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London-Wul is a fibre farm in New Brunswick Canada where animals are neither destroyed nor sold without exception. Also a national award winning shop and studio, London-Wul is home to textile artist Heidi Wulfraat.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

MORE HAND DYED

I have been dyeing allot of bulky Mohair boucle lately. This is a favorite yarn of mine. I have knit MANY shawls for markets, shows and the shop using this yarn. Recently I have fallen in love with it all over again, this time as a loopy warp yarn in weaving. Don't you love those kind of rekindlings?

Dates of Interest: Toe Up Socks with Tanya, class starts 1pm, Sunday March 9th call: 506-382-6990 to register.
...back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.blogspot.com

Monday, February 25, 2008

COUNTRY SPINNER

...why spin 100g Hanks when you can go for 625?
My Country Spinner is an old friend with it's lumbering 4:1 ratio, solid frame and huge bobbin capacity (2 pounds!). It has acquired a few bumps and bruises over the years but I wouldn't part with it for the world. This is some Finn fleece that I have been working on as of late. Spun directly from the dyed lock.
....back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

WEIGHING IN


I have been carding blends of dyed Polwarth and soysilk this past week. The combination is divine! It's interesting also, to work with colour outside of the dye pot. Yesterday evening I started carding on a fantastic blend of Finn (the breed of sheep, not my Border Collie who happens to be named Finn) and soysilk .... needless to say I had to be dragged away from the studio and reminded to eat, sleep .......
...back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com
Dates of Note: Our **SALE** runs this weekend! Sat Feb23 and Sunday Feb24
Toe Up Socks Class is Scheduled for Sunday March 9th

Sunday, February 17, 2008

CREATIVITY SYMPOSIUM


This past October I was asked to speak at Deanne Fitzpatrick's "The Artful Rughooker, Symposium on Creativity". What an honour. My point of intrest was "The Love of Fibre" and I told the following story, which on this very cold February afternoon seems right for the telling.....

I choose to work with fibre because it gives me strength.
I like the way that it slips through my fingers as I spin at the wheel and the way that it so often twists, curves and springs introducing its own character and guiding me through my work. I like the way a freshly shorn fleece smells as the steam rolls off of its first wash bath. Most of all I like the fact that real fibre, natural fibre, has a story.
In my mind I see each fibre bringing it’s own story to my work, permeating and supporting a handspun skein of yarn, a hooked rug or a felted hanging.

Indeed the history of working with fibre is paramount. We know that the cultivation of flax and hemp was reported as early as 1699 within Acadian communities and that later in the 1700’s Scottish settlers arriving in Cape Breton brought with them a strong tradition of sheep husbandry, spinning and weaving.

A woman’s spinning and weaving skills were critical in early Maritime settlement. In 1810 John Harrison of Maccan Nova Scotia writes home to Yorkshire expressing the need for “a shipload of young women….them that can card and spin”.

By the 19th century, for many maritime women, working with fibre was their story of survival. This was the case for Polly Mercereau who supplied the honorable Robinson Family of Fredericton with handspun yarn and hand woven fabric during the early 1800’s also the story of Sybil Grey whom, during the 1840’s spent long days dyeing wool, weaving and spinning for her neighbor Mrs. Emily Shaw Beaven and for Mrs. Marsden who spun wool for all of the Carter family of the Kingston Peninsula also in New Brunswick.
For many the story of fibre is that of community, communication, gathering and tradition. Early 19th century photographs document Cape Breton frolics, Acadian Bees, and women in Cheticamp dyeing yarns for their hooked rugs.
I must say that I am as pleased that so much has changed as I am that so much has remained the same.

The stories of fibre are intriguing. They involve connections between individuals, between man and animal, between man and land, between a farmer and his family, his father and his son.
Stories like that of Walter Whalen and his son Felix of St. Jacques Newfoundland who are working, to preserve one of the last remaining, flocks of the hardy little Newfoundland Sheep brought to forage the rugged Newfoundland terrain over 500 years ago and nearly extinct today.
And on the west coast the story of Paula Simmons who over the past 30 years has provided invaluable instruction for hand spinners and fibre producers. Author of the cottage industry producer’s bible “Guide to raising sheep” as well as numerous publications on hand spinning technique, Paula is also central in a thriving business that produces the renowned Patrick Green fibre processing equipment.
In all of this, if you call Paula today with a question, a request or an order, she’ll be sure to ask if you’ve put your garden to bed for the season or how the summer’s crop of hay came along this year. Because of Paula’s story I enjoy working with her equipment that much more and when I spin from the spongy batts that roll off of my pat green carder I hope that even a little bit of Paula’s energy and dedication will pass through the twisted thread.

Everyone knows the story of Shrek. He’s the rouge merino sheep who spent six years roaming New Zealand’s South Island before being gathered up for a long overdue shearing.
Shrek’s fleece was a record 60 pounds which apparently is enough to produce full suits for 20 men. The sheep’s owner John Perriam in a BBC radio interview explained that Shrek had managed to evade capture for so many years by hiding in a cave and that when he was discovered he was not immediately recognized as a sheep. The story of Shreks admirable resign won the hearts of people all over the world and his eventual denuding was televised during a live half hour news program on TV New Zealand. Wool crafters and trivia aficionados raised thousands of dollars in the auction of Shrek’s fleece, all to the benefit of a children’s medical charity, each bidder wanting a small piece of the fleece that tells Shrek’s story.

How many of you will take home a small bit of wool from Deanne’s awe inspiring studio this weekend? Perhaps a small swatch marked ‘from the Dye Kitchen of Deanne Fitzpatrick’ on a little brown tag with a crimped edge. I have no doubt that whether you hook that piece of fabric today or years from now it will bring Deanne’s support to your work if you believe that it can.

When you choose to work with fibre, you bring its stories and relationships to your work. They lend life to your work, they lend a depth and care and a foundation, bringing strength to your work before you have even begun. After all, natural fibres are grown , cultivated, raised fed nurtured and in some cases loved as a being long before they are used as a provision or as a statement or in a work of art.

And so I have a little story to tell. It has to do with one of my own relations to fibre and it starts out as my husband Arnold and I sat down to supper on a very cold March night.

At 6 pm we got “the Call” from my good friend Bonnie Avis. Could we “please come out over to Dorchester. Jennifers’ away, she’s got a ewe who’s two hours into delivering, vet’s tied up, Martins’ in charge and things are looking shaky”. Twenty minutes later my husband Arnold and I were driving up the long icy lane to Devonshire farm then pressing our way through the early March wind into an open ended sheep barn where the birthing scene was presented before us.
Bonnie, sweet natured and very petite, belied her 74 years, and stood bent over the blatting ewe holding the animal in a firm head lock.
She, the ewe not Bonnie, stood straddled over a bale of hay. Well presented for the anticipated arrival but clearly distressed. Martin, Jennifers ‘husband in charge’ was relieved to see us and fretfully nursed his stress with a very cold beer.

Arnold, never having been in such a situation, if you can imagine, zipped up his jacket against the cold and made himself available standing among the flock of 20 or so wooly onlookers now gathered around the scene.

My own jacket lay heaped on the ground, the top portion of my coveralls tied around my waste and now down to a tee-shirt I slathered my arms with betadine solution. With as much tact as can be afforded in such a situation I plunged my right arm into the ewe feeling the back of a small head, one pointed hoof and one knobby knee.
What I’m hoping to feel, the ideal outline would have been two hooves pointing the way with a little head tucked in behind ready to follow.

To rectify the problem I push the lamb back in an effort to gain some space to maneuver, straighten the leg that is bent back, reach in around it’s head and palming it’s muzzle pull it’s head around to face the new world.

Now 3 1/2 hours into delivery, Bonnie needs not use her full force to hold the ewe that is utterly exhausted and quite critical. Arnold nervously wrings his hands; he stands among the semi-circle of sheep still looking on many with equally concerned expressions. Martin continues to empty one cold bottle after another; nervously anticipating the wrath of his trusting wife should all go wrong He sits on a hay bale now, head in hands and extolling the virtues of getting out of farming one of these years.

The lamb, now aligned, needs pulling and with all my force I am not able to free him.
Arnold steps in, first gingerly and then with all his might, he is launched back a step as the newborn finally slips free. Like mother, the baby is exhausted and shows no vigor for life. His mouth and nostrils must be freed of mucus after which Arnold must hold him high and swing him, the lambs limp head facing the ground so that his throat might also be cleared. After what seems forever, he sputters for breath and is presented to his mother who still stands supported over a bale of hay. Suddenly, in the excitement of this achievement it dawned on me that a person should check to see if there might be any other lambs involved in this pregnancy.

Once again lathered up and in for exploration I rapidly discovered a very small twin, perfectly placed and easily pulled. We were quickly presented with a second, considerably smaller lamb, apparently quite prepared to start out his new life and no worse for the delay.


Late into the evening we sat gathered around the farmhouse woodstove. Bonnie, Arnold and I propping up the lambs, warming them and offering them their mothers first, most essential, milk delivered from a bottle. Martin busily stoked the fire and showered us with offerings of a warm meal, a warm drink, a cold drink, a drink of wine or whatever else our hearts may have desired.

Pleased with the lambs, with ourselves and pleased to be warm we shared of martin’s wine. Newly invigorated he toasted our teamwork, the longevity of Devonshire Farm, farm life in general and the return of his good wife.

As the babies gained strength our heads became heavy. Gathering ourselves we headed for home down the long farm lane the farm house behind us shows a flicker of fire light in the window and a silhouette of Martin in the open doorway holding up two huge frozen turkeys, yet another offering of thanks; maybe next time.

Jennifer returned from her trip away to a farm that was no worse for the wear. We were met with yet more invitations of farm house suppers, wine, turkeys and such and that Fall London-Wul became home to two beautiful yearling lambs, not the boys as it turned out, but two gloriously fleeced ewes that Jennifer had specially selected just for us.

Had she been home that evening she would, no doubt, have managed the situation with impressive efficiency. A well respected Sheppard, over the years, Jennifer became my go-to person for practical advice on raising a fibre flock. She was also a masterful spinner and knitter and a visual artist. The land, her family and her animals were her inspiration. She was as no-nonsense and to the point as she was warm and accessible. Jen was an easy and comfortable friend. On January 10th last year Jennifer died of breast cancer. Driving past her farm now it seems strangely odd to me that it should still be there. It feels as though the without Jennifer there should be no more rolling hills, rambling fences and grey shingled barns when in fact the fields and fences and even a few sheep are still there just as Jennifer would want it.

The Devonshire sheep, Baahby and pinky as they are now known, represent the beginnings of our London-Wul flock. Now several years later, Baahby remains the matriarch of our eclectic group and the foundation of a farm which fills my every dream.
What pleasures London-Wul Farm has afforded me; happiness in a simple way of life, the pleasure of physical work, the comfort of community and, as an artist, the experience of using a material with which I am intimately connection. Each spring I look forward to shearing and each year I select a special fleece, Baahbys’ fleece, to keep as my own. Bahhbys’ is wool that gives me strength. Baahbys’ wool tells a love story about a little girl from the city of Montreal, who dreamed of nothing but a farm, who years later received a gift from the man who she knew right then and there she would marry. It was a gift of two beautiful barn doors (not the barn, just the doors), a promise of things to come. Baahbys’ wool is full of love and appreciation and respect for the beautiful animals that are the muses of London-Wul farm. Baahbys’ wool is about friendship and community, life and loss.

With that said, I would like to offer you a small gift. It’s a simple gift really; a small bit of wool in a small box. The type offering that friends in fibre so often extend to one another, at a hook-in, in a knitting circle or at a workshop perhaps, just a small bit of wool. In fact it’s a tuft of Baahbys’ fleece. You’d love Baabhy if you met her. Everyone does. She is short legged and slightly plump, for that alone you have to love her. Her winter fleece frames her bare face with a slightly tilted grin like an Elizabethan collar. She loves to be scratched on the fatty fold in the crook between her front leg and her chest. And if you scratch under both legs at once she will lay down. Her name, Baahby is very complex and most memorable. It’s the way that Fred Eliot, my favorite character on “Coronation Street”, pronounces the word “baby”.

I hope that someday perhaps you will incorporate your tuft of Baahby’s wool in your work. I hope that it gives you strength and that it sparks your imagination now and always.
Heidi Wulfraat, London-Wul Fibre Arts
back to the london-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

Thursday, February 14, 2008

BE MINE


Happy Valentines Day from all of us at London-Wul Farm.
...back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CabbagePatch


"CabbagePatch" is one of the new spinning fibres (Polwarth) on the London-Wul Etsy site. I just love moody, earthy colors (not for everyone I know). I love moody weather as well, that's when these colors seem to be at their best isn't it?

.... back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

:):):):):):) Only 10 Days left to the BIG SALE!:):):):):):):):)

Monday, February 11, 2008

FREE MOTION AND FELTING


...some of my experimenting.
Felted on the Baby Lock Embellisher. Quilted on the Baby Lock Ellure.
I will be giving a demonstration of these techniques, here at London-Wul, on Sunday March 2nd for anyone who might be interested in having a look at the Machines.

back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

Saturday, February 09, 2008

TAAAH DAAAH


The results. A much softer approach to this colour combination, don't you think?
...back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com
:):):):):):) only 13 days to "THE SALE" :):):):):):)

Friday, February 08, 2008

"WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON"


I dyed this Polwarth top, well, last Wednesday afternoon. Love, love, love the blend of colours (though the photo doesn't truly tell the story). I also dyed a large batch of wool top (breed unknown) in this same colourway.
Today my mission is to blend the breed unknown "Wednesday Afternoon" with soysilk.
I know, It's a horrible, horrible job... but I'll be all right ;)
....back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com
:):):):):):):) 14 days to the "OUT LIKE A LION SALE" :):):):):):):):):)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

SALE SALE SALE

..... at London-Wul Fibre Arts, up to 75% savings on fibres, yarns and equipment!


back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

TAN FANS


Winter classes have been going along wonderfully. Lots of Oohs and Ahhhs as new knitters make happy breakthroughs. A special thanks to Tanya who is fast accumulating a fan following for her gentle, informative approach to teaching (and for her awesome worksheets!).
Next Stop: Toe Up Socks, March 2008, contact info@thewoolworks.com.

FROM THE MAIL BOX: Thank goodness for Super Bowl! It's been a quiet evening here and I found the time to finish my mitten. Thanks for the great course. I was able to come home and without difficulty (except the infernal tinking back) finish my first mitten...thumb included! I've proudly attached a pic of said masterpiece. The mitten is far too small for my giant hands and my sister-in-law is lucking out. I've planned some design changes for the next pair to accomodate my giants.Again, thank you for the course. You were able to teach me (all nerd-like) the anatomy of a stitch and I'm just flying along now.

Tara

......back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com

Monday, February 04, 2008

STUDIO SNAPS

....... I thought I'd share some pics from the studio....... my favorite place to be.








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Friday, February 01, 2008

MULTI TASKING BUZZ


I am trying to wash at least three fleece a week in the midst of things. I have to say, there is a certain satisfaction in performing 4or5 tasks simultaneously. Though I have it on strict authority (CBC radio one) that extreem multi tasking can be ineffetive or even detrimental to productivity, I'm OK with it. I'm Ok with it because it affords me a sense of "high energy" that's well worth the chaos. If I can man the dyepots outside, answer the phone, spin on the wheel, have the carder running and a fleece soaking at the same time, I'm a happy camper.
Oh and did I say thank goodness for Linda and Sherri who are calm, cool collected - and organized ? ...behind every chronic muti tasker is a crack team that knows what the hell is going on.

.....back to the London-Wul Homepage: www.thewoolworks.com
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