A Felted Garden

In May I will offering a couple of needle felting workshops while my tulip garden is in full bloom. A couple years ago I planted over 600 bulbs in the garden beds surrounding our house. They bloomed spectacularly last year and I’m anxiously hoping for a repeat this year.

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In Finn’s garden ‘White Clouds’ tulips give way to ‘Blue Amiable’ then to giant purple alliums with Mother of Thyme blanketing the bed. Under my oak tree (a tree I often focus on when taking time to breathe and visualize during yoga) a rainbow of tulips circles the trunk in mixed varieties of blue, purple, pink, red, orange, apricot and yellow – some tall and slim, others short and full, with delicate lily flowering ones too.

A bold patch of tall orange tulips stand at a south-east corner of a bed that surrounds the house, with four different purple tulips varieties in groups near the doors. (My mother would be very disapproving of the number of purple flowers in my garden.) My favourite patch of tulips is a yellow/pink lily flowering sweetheart called ‘Elegant Lady’ that I have planted on the south side of our house near Oliver’s playset.

For years I’ve loved photographing my garden and playing around with macro lenses and light. I didn’t think I could find anything better to photograph – or blog about- until I discovered wool. Better yet: gardens and wool together. The complimentary colours and textures come together so well in every photo, each inspiring me to make something or plant something. It’s all beautiful to work with – whether it’s with my hands and needles or with a lens.

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I’m feeling somewhat determined to felt one of each of my tulips so that I’ll have a complete set forever. Tulips are a simple felting project, though creating a thin, smooth petal takes time and a little patience. I wrap armature wire in wool for the stem, and blend shades of green wool for the leaves.

While I’m felting my tulips it will be fun to share my enthusiasm for tulip gardening and felting with others. There’s no reason to stop at tulips either. I hope to felt all kinds of flowers this year as they bloom in #amysgardentbay. IMG_8638

I’ll be creating Facebook events for the two following dates, so stay tuned there for more information!

Needle Felted Tulips (and other flowers)
$95.00
Two dates to choose from:

Thursday, May 18

6:00pm-9:30pm

OR

Sunday, May 21

12:00noon – 4:00pm

We will tour my tulip garden and use the blooms as inspiration as we felt petals and leaves in the sunroom overlooking the garden.

You’ll be provided with a kit including a foam work surface, a variety pack of felting needles with a bonus extra fine needle for delicate work, and leather finger protectors. You’ll receive two ounces of 21.5 micron super fine merino wool to create a bouquet to blooms with. Our work table will have lots of extra wool to experiment with, different fibres, beads, and thread to embellish your blooms if you wish.

To register, contact me by email amyvervoort@me.com or by Facebook or Instagram message.

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Felting Workshops

img_6567Below is a list of projects and dates, with the hope to accommodate everyone and all the great suggestions I’ve been given. More will be added to this list in upcoming posts, and I will create events both here and on Facebook for those who want to add them to calendars. There is one questionable workshop (Sunday, March 5th)- I have had many ideas given, and I just can’t decide. With your feedback I can fill that space, so send me your suggestions!

My little sunroom is ready and waiting to host some more felting workshops. The only downside to the sunroom is that it’s not set up to host big groups. For felting – especially beginners, it’s much better to sit at the table. At the table I can host 3 or 4 plus me comfortably.

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the sunroom in summer
We can also move indoors and use our dining room table, which comfortably seats seven plus myself (unless you’re here at Thanksgiving when it seats 18 or so). It’s not the most private space but it is bright and inspiring for other reasons (and is where I work most.)

The sunroom has proven to be a somewhat magical space for felting workshops. Each time there seems to be a wave of weather whether storms, rainbows, sunsets, or snow falls at Christmas. It really is a beautiful space perfect for being creative – and I serve cookies (or whatever else Olive and I have baked). Yay!img_1755

I’ve reserved Sundays as felting workshop days, and also some Thursday evenings. Because I can host no more than four at a time (unless we use my dining room)  I’m offering a lot of dates to be as accommodating as possible. If you are interested in a felting workshop on another day, or for more people, please contact me – there are options.

To sign up for the workshops please contact me amy at olives and bananas dot com, or by messaging here, Facebook, or Instagram.

 



Sunday, January 29th   12:00 noon – 4:00pm


flyingpigpngFlying Pig

$90.00 including kit

 

It’s time to get these pigs flying! Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with. Step by step colour photographic instructions will teach you how to create your needle felted flying pig.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Thursday February 2nd   6pm – 9pmimg_2782

Felted Hearts for Valentine’s Day 

$80.00

Make a garland, put them in gift basket, hand them out to friends. This limited needle felting kit includes heaps of four shades in pinks to reds of super soft merino top wool, felting pad, felting needles, leather finger protectors, and a heart shaped cookie cutter. Also included is some ribbon to string them together if you want to make a garland, with simple instructions, embroidery thread to inscribe x’s and o’s, and a needle to do the work.

You know, felting can be a great way to express your appreciation for someone by making them a sweet gift, ..or you can stab your heart out and get that out of your system. However you plan to spend the evening is fine with me.

Punch and heart shaped cookies will be served.


Sunday February 5th   12: noon – 4:00pm

Flying Pigflyingpigpng

$90.00 including kit

 

It’s time to get these pigs flying! Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with. Step by step colour photographic instructions will teach you how to create your needle felted flying pig.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Sunday February 12   12: noon – 4:00pm

Chchickadeepng4ickadees

$95.00 including kit

Bringing back the birds! For those who couldn’t make it to a workshop before Christmas, the chickadees are back.

This kit includes a cinnamon stick perch, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and all the wool you need to complete a chickadee, with a little extra for decorating with. Step by step photographic instructions are included to guide you through the process. Foam work surface, three felting needles, and leather finger protectors are also in this kit to provide you with everything you need to complete this project.img_3507

Join me in the sunroom to create these cute little birds together. I’ll explain felting techniques and different tools, wool, and fibre. This project takes time, so you may not finish your complete bird in four hours, but you’ll be well enough on your way with the confidence to finish on your own.

Sweet tweets, I mean treats, with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Sunday February 19   12: noon – 4:00pm

flyingpigpngFlying Pig

$90.00 including kit

Join me in the sunroom for four hours of pig making. Your kit will include pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Thursday, February 23rd   6:00pm – 9:30pm

flyingpigpngA Flying Pig Evening  

for those who couldn’t attend Sunday workshops

$90.00 including kit

Join me in the sunroom as the sun goes down to make your own needle felted flying pig.

Your kit includes pipe cleaners to build the frame of your pig’s body, beads for eyes, needle and thread, and embroidery floss for a braided tail. There is enough wool in this kit for you to make a couple or few pigs. (Or more if you make them teeny tiny!) My kits always include a generous amount of wool for you to create with.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to make my flying pigs, explaining different felting tools and techniques, and how to best use the wool. You should leave with a completed flying pig and the materials to make at least one more.

Pig shaped cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Sunday February 26   12: noon – 4:00pm

Felt your Pet img_1559

$95.00 including personalized kit

Bring a photo of your pet, and we will work together to create a cute felted version of your fur baby.

You’ll receive a foam work surface, img_6786three pack felting needle set, and leather finger protectors. The wool will be based around your pet (prearranged) and I’ll include the appropriate beads for eyes and noses, thread for whiskers, and anything other identifying fibre features.

I’ll guide you through the steps I use to create imitations of pets, and teach various felting techniques using different needles and tools.

 

Dachshund cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.


Sunday March 5   12: noon – 4:00pm

??? felted sculpture of child’s art? felted hoop? felted skunk? help me out…more pigs? Birds?


Sunday March 19   12: noon – 4:00pm

Robin with Nest of Blue Eggs

$95.00 including kit

Admittedly this kit is still in development, but hopefully by setting a deadline I’ll get the job done. Hah! This kit includes the foam work surface, three felting needles, leather finger protectors, wool to complete one or more birds, a nest, a few small blue eggs, beads for eyes, needle and thread, step by step colour photographic instructions and the directions for hanging them as a mobile.

Bird and egg cookies with hold and cold beverages will be served.


Thursday, March 23rd   6:00pm  -9:00pm  

$90.00

Needle Felted Boa Constrictor Swallowing an Elephantimg_0417-2

This project is dear to my heart. One of favourite books is Le Petit Prince which begins with a allegory of a child’s drawing of a constrictor swallowing an elephant which is misinterpreted by the adults as a hat. This kit will include the wool to make an elephant and to make a boa constrictor to swallow it, foam work surface, three felting needles, leather finger protectors, eyes for both your boa constrictor and elephant, pip cleaners to frame the elephant’s body, and embroidery floss for the elephants tail.

Join me in the sunroom as the sun goes down to create this special project. I’ll guide you through the steps I use, and the needles, tools, and techniques involved.

img_0372-6This kit will not be sold separately – 1. it’s not my image or original idea 2. mostly number one but also it would be complicated to write as instructions, but I think could be more easily explained in person.

I suspect this may be a two part workshop. The elephant is relatively easy to make, but takes time. The boa constrictor “hat” takes a lot more time and is a little more complicated. (I don’t like to use the word complicated in reference to needle felting because felting is technically simple…, it just takes – imagination.) Mostly you just need a lot of time and patience to make the boa constrictor.

I’ve reserved the following date as an extension of this class for those who want some further instruction to help complete their project: Sunday March 26 (if needed)   12: noon – 4:00pm

Elephant cookies with hot and cold beverages will be served.



Our house is hard to hide in Thunder Bay. We live across from a popular park and one of the best views of the Sleeping Giant. When we bought this house I realised I lost anonymity – not that I think anyone has ever really had it, especially online; I think if someone wants to find you or dig for information it’s fairly simple to do so – but as an avid tweeter I thought to myself, well damn, if I tweet a photo of the sunrise from a window view it will be obvious where I live. In a place like Thunder Bay does it really matter? We all pretty much know each other anyway. I’ve got nothing to hide. (Though I daydream daily about living in a place in the middle of nowhere with water right outside my door. Someday.)

I love our home. We are fortunate to have it, it’s bright and the view is awesome, and the space is enough for kids, gardens, and dogs. We love the indoor/outdoor lifestyle we have here, and the proximity to all things downtown and and fun. It’s not all wonderful though; There’s been a great personal debate inside me since buying it that has wondered: did we do the right thing? It was a significant portion of my inheritance that allowed us to be in the position to buy it. The upkeep is expensive, and we’ve had so many ridiculous problems – which happens with old homes, but still, it can stop anytime now.  Lately though, I’m beginning to think now that there is more purpose to this house than I first thought. Maybe this space buys me a little room for this business, and the opportunity to make it happen.

Some days when the sun is shining just so and the radio is playing choir music two rooms away, when the beams hit the floor in the just that pattern…, I could swear I was standing in the house I grew up in. It’s always made me wonder about the topography of this house compared to my family home. They’re both on hill overlooking water with the sun rising over a hill in the distance shining in one window through the house and out an opposite window. Often the sun is rising through the front and the moon is still beaming through the back. How light hits a house and other things are big things sometimes, and are important to take notice of.

There is a little bit of my family’s history here, important history. Finn is here. Some friends and acquaintances have memories here, and a highly respected Thunder Bay family holds their history here. Dr. Ballantyne is still present because I talk to him regularly: apologizing for the inflatable ball pit pool in his mahogany study, and asking what he thinks of the impatiens and roses we’ve planted. He hasn’t answered me yet but a guest left a message in the log after the Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s Christmas House Tour in 2014 saying that they they knew the Ballantyne’s and that they would be happy with what we’ve done with the house, and that’s good enough for me. For now. Dr. Ballantyne built this house a family home, and it still feels that way, even standing so tall the rooms are all cozy. I hope he knows how much I appreciate the love for family I feel here, and how I’m certain he built the windows around the sunbeams.

New Blog, First Post

img_1570This is it, the beginning of a new adventure. About a year ago, when Olives and Bananas first came to my mind I didn’t really know where it would go or what it would be, I just wanted to find a way to share needle felting and fibre art with others. After making gifts for friends for a couple years I began entertaining requests for custom orders, from there the development of needle felting kits came about as more and more people requested supplies and instruction, and together it grew into this little made by me business that I’m really enjoying.

I realize communication is an area I need to improve, thus the creation of this blog. One of my many goals for 2017 is to maintain this with weekly updates, a newsletter perhaps, so that those following know where I am on projects – especially the creation of needle felting kits, what is available, and what is coming up. I also want to relay better information about workshops, which I plan to host regularly on Sundays in my sweet little detached sunroom (which is an inspiring room to create in!).

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year the turn of the calendar is feeling like turning a corner. It’s been a difficult few years for my family. Loss and grief weighed on us after losing my mother then our son Finn in 2013. Then the emotional highs and lows of bringing a rainbow baby into this world – followed by my husband’s job loss, and the changes that made to our lives. We struggled for a while, but it’s turning around. Finally some better employment options are arising for R, and I’ve found both healing and challenging work in this business venture. I feel like we’re finally headed toward some better days.

Olives and Bananas is more than felting, more than crochet, fibre art, and creating from wool. It’s also challenges me in photography, marketing, and business planning. The math is done in collaboration with by my husband, my accountant and calculator, as all the supplies, duties, exchange rates, and prices whether wholesale or retail is quite complicated. Completing and posting my price lists are a high priority on my to do list right now. My hope is that 2017 is the beginning of a solid business plan in action, even if it takes a few years to get there.

My main priority now is still my sweet Oliver, my wild little rainbow toddler. He’ll grow up too fast, just like his big sister Hannah has, so I’m savouring my time with him while he’s little. Wool will always be waiting, but he’s happening right now. So, please bare with me as I sneak in small moments each day to work on Olives and Bananas, while enjoying him.

I’m excited about what’s ahead. Posts I’m drafting include more information about needle felting kits, what goes in them, how I account for supplies and costs, future kits and where I stand in their development, as well as information about “just wool” kits, downloadable instructions, felting supplies, and retail wool.  Stay tuned!

Thanks for all the support this past year. Now let’s see what happens next….