Needle Felting Safety

It’s the first thing I talk about during my classes. It’s not that needle felting is inherently dangerous. I find working with a hot glue gun to be far more perilous. But it can be even safer if you adhere to the following suggestions.

Wear Finger Protection

Especially if you’re working on tiny projects. Rubber fingertips available at the office supply store are an inexpensive and useful tool to have in your felting box. Leather slips are available at some crafting supply stores, or you can make your own by snipping the fingers off a thin pair of second-hand leather gloves.

They look like Rabies Virus, but they sure keep your fingies safe! Bonus feature: washable.

Store Everything in Bins

If you’ve got pets or kids in the house, this goes double. It’ll keep your fibres safe from bugs and dust and food smells, but it’ll also give you a safe place to put your stuff when not in use. On that note…

Always Pack Everything Up Before Leaving Your Workspace.

Or keep the door shut. If you have cats, this will save you a huge vet bill and a heap of heartache.

Use a Felting Pad

Might seem obvious, but I’m certainly guilty of trying to felt something real quick on my thigh or chest. Don’t do it. Not even once.

Foam block or Stabbit-Style, they will save your work surface and your skin.

Treat Yourself to New Needles

New needles require fewer pokes, go into work more easily, and are less likely to break or bend with a bad stab. Clean new needles are also less likely to cause infection if you should break skin with one. Treat yourself!

Take Breaks

Neck, shoulder, and wrist injuries are a definite threat when needle felting. Taking regular breaks to move your body around, and change posture, is a great way to relieve stress on your vulnerable joints. Gentle stretching and a little walk will help you to be able to needle felt for longer, and more comfortably. If you’re starting to get sore, take a break.

Don’t Expect to Watch TV

You can’t listen to TV, but never stab while your eyes are otherwise engaged. It’s a surefire way to startle (or injure) yourself with a needle jab. Listen along to shows you’ve already seen, or enjoy a podcast instead. Audiobooks are a needle felter’s best friend.

Keep A Needle Count

If you’re using more than one needle, remember how many you have out so that you can account for them all when you’re packing up. Forgetting a needle in the couch or missing a dropped tool can have dire consequences for the next person using the chesterfield. You are a surgeon counting your sponges.

Be Aware of Your Non-Dominant Hand

If you’ve ever practiced knife safety, apply it to needle felting. If you’ve never practiced knife safety, please go learn about it. Seriously. It’s so important. Your local emergency room will thank you.
If your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing, stop. Re-evaluate your choices. This is how you stab yourself. Think of your non-dominant hand as your guide hand, learn how to do “the claw” and keep that thing out of the way of your needles.

And, side note: if you do hurt yourself, take a break and wait to make sure there’s no blood. Sometimes the blood comes later, and the “blood, sweat and tears” we put into our artwork should really be figurative.

So with that I say: Stab on safely, friends.

2019 Craft Fairs

I’ll be tabling at two fairs in Pender Harbour this month, and offering a selection of needle felted ornaments, brooches, and felt bunting at each. If you’re in the neighbourhood, be sure to come by and say hello! I’ll also be demoing needle felting, making colourful mushroom ornaments.

On November 16th at the Pender Harbour Community Hall for the Pender Harbour Christmas Fair, and it’s the perfect time to get in an order for a custom pet ornament!

A couple of weeks later we have the Serendipity Christmas Craft Fair. On Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, Dec 1 at the Pender Harbour Community Hall. It’s always a great turnout, with delicious hot foods and lots of beautiful things for sale by their creators.

Needle Felting Classes Available

I’ve been loving teaching classes at my LYS, Sew Easy, and helping others to create fun and adorable ornaments of their pets. If you’re located on the Sunshine Coast and would like to participate, visit seweasy.ca or give them a call to sign up for our next class!

So long, 2018

Well, that was really hard.

Not that I thought chemotherapy would be easy — every iota of evidence pointed to the contrary — but I guess I thought it would be different?
I thought it would be kind of predictable (which it wasn’t) and I thought I could keep myself entertained (which it couldn’t) and I thought I would come out of it lonely and sad and bitter.
But I didn’t.
Despite 2018 being the most difficult year of my life, I got through it. And that feels like a miracle.

2018 took a lot from me: my health, my focus, four of my five senior pets. It put a strain on my marriage and a hold on my career. It made me realize that I am both physically weaker and emotionally stronger than I’d ever imagined. It took me to damned near my breaking point.

And it’s finally over.

I had my last scheduled dose of chemotherapy on December 27th. I rang in the New Year with the hope that 2019 will be a year of healing. If 2018 broke me down, 2019 will build me back up.

I’ll get an idea of what the future has in store for me in about a month, after my next PET scan and (with any luck) a cancer-free declaration, and I’ll write more about my experience over the past six months at a later date, once I have the luxury of hindsight.

For now I’m just glad to be looking forward.

Summer News (June Edition)

Author’s Note: I wrote this as a draft at the end of June, but it’s taken me a bit to get up the courage/energy to post it here.

This summer’s going to be a bit of an odd one.

After nearly a year of doctor’s appointments and referrals, it became clear last week that the lump growing above my collarbone is Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Ugh. It’s stage one*, and the outlook is very good, but I’m nervous about starting Chemotherapy at the end of July and disappointed to have to take the rest of the summer off as the receptionist at the Veterinary Hospital. I mean, what the heck, bod.

The focus this quarter is to maintain my health as best as I can and to have patience with myself while my body heals. I’ve got a wonderful family and amazing friends to help me through this,  and while I’m sure there will be ups and downs I’m optimistic about the future.

In brighter news, we’ve adopted a new kitten!

We brought her home last Saturday and named her Lydia. She’s a scoundrel and a dear and we adore her already—a weird looking tuxedo with the sweetest mew. She loves to be around people. Grade A kitten. Would recommend.

I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again this July. I’ll be working on Coral & Bone, my queer-romance novel about a saboteur mermaid and the emotionally distraught whaler who falls in love with her. It was fun to dip my toes into the story this past spring and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with the characters I’ve made. I’m not used to writing romances, but it’s been a fun challenge so far. Also there are kelp forests and whale magic and bar fights and a pet octopus. It’s great stuff.

The veggie garden is looking great after a bit of a slow start. It’s been a spring of extremes—either very hot and dry or quite wet and cold—and while the plants didn’t appreciate the swings they seem to have forgiven and moved on. This spring, John built us a pair of rather cleverly designed raised beds with chicken wire cages on hinges, and it’s been enough to keep the deer and raccoons at bay. Time will tell with regards to bears.

Now, off to work on a novel!

*Whoops, turns out it’s stage II, but the prognosis is still good and we’re still aiming for a cure, it’s just likely going to take 6 months of treatment instead of 4. Bummer.

My Top 5 Fall (& Winter) Comforts

Fall is probably my favourite time of year, and in no small part because of how delightfully cozy it is. The nights are getting longer and cuddling up under a blanket looks more enticing each day beyond the equinox. Once the rain starts and that damp leaf mould perfume really takes hold, you can bet that I’m surrounding myself with all of my favourite cold-weather things.

Flannel

Flannel sheets, flannel shirts, flannel pyjamas, the flannel lining in my favourite down vest. Flannel is out in full force at my house. It is an immensely comforting fabric to live in, and it’s working wonders towards making this new house feel like home.

Wood

Though it be little, our wood-stove is mighty. As I write this, the little black box blazes nearby. The savoury smell of wood-smoke when I step outdoors. I can scavenge my own fuel from dead-fall, put handfuls of my forage on for kindling, and bask in its warmth. There’s a gentle snap and pull of air, as though a creature sleeps beside me, and I love it.

Wool

So much wool! With the cooler temperatures, knitting is comfortable again, and knitted things are the perfect weight to keep the chill off. On my needles this fall: socks, socks, new fingerless gloves for John, and more socks. On my body this winter: woolly boot socks, thick itchy pullovers, and woollen hats.

Coffee

I was strictly a tea drinker for a long time, but lately I’ve found that there’s nothing else quite as rich and decadent on a cool evening than a milky cup of dark roast coffee. The gentle curls of steam rising from the creamy surface. The heat of a heavy mug against my palm. The smokey flavour and intoxicating smell. I splurged a little this year and bought the more expensive stuff, and I have no regrets. The little bit extra for something that I love, and that centres me, was well worth it.

Vinyl

After a couple of months of not having access to my record collections during the summer move, putting on an album and leaning back for a listen is of particular comfort. Billie Holiday is getting a lot of play lately. Goes well with turning the lights down low and a hot cup of the above.

I hope you’re having a wonderful winter so far, and that you’re able to enjoy some of your own cold-weather comforts.

Happy New Year,

Syd

 

 

The First Full Day of Fall

As I write this, a cool wind is blowing the needles from the trees, and it definitely feels like fall; the days are getting shorter, the spice of leaf litter fills the air, and the rains are returning.

It was most assuredly summer when we arrived here—white hot days and a hot pink sun brought on by the surrounding wildfires. Smoke carried on the breeze. Clouds of dust puffed up wherever we walked. Wasps veered dozily on patios. It felt like cooler temperatures would never come to the Sunshine Coast.

But they’re here today, and I couldn’t be more pleased. The house is (mostly) unpacked, and we’re getting settled into fresh routines. My new job as veterinary hospital receptionist is going well. Things are looking good, and although there’s still time to be spent on the patio, I’m looking forward to the indoor-cosiness that winter will bring.

There are some elements to living here that are taking getting used to, primarily too many bears and not enough internet. Explornet will do for now, and online gaming will have to wait for a future with higher speeds. As for the former, I learned that black bears have a sour-fruit-and-shit kind of smell, and if the wind’s right you can smell them before you can see them. I’m hoping that they will eventually learn to steer clear of the yard and stick to the surrounding wood, and though It might take me a while to get comfortable sharing a backyard with a 600lb mama bear, I can’t complain. You can’t live in the forest and not expect to see wildlife, and there’s a bunch on the property: a family of raccoons that fish for bivalves off our dock, a pair of large (and lust-filled) owls that like to make-out with each other in the wee hours of the morning, and a pack of coyotes that sing songs in the swamp. A herd of elk frequent the area. It’s downright majestic.

And anyway, there’s nothing quite like falling asleep to crickets and waking up to loon song.

I can’t remember the last time I was so well-rested.