During this time of unease i am De- stressing by working through my stock of fleeces .
I have many Shetland fleeces both from our own sheep and a few other Scottish areas.
I love the versatility of them both of colour range and texture .
A fine footed sheep well suited to the Highlands and lowlands of Scotland.
The named colours can be quite an education .
11 different colours are accepted and many different markings with Shetland Island names like Yuglet ,Katmogget , Gulmogget and many more tongue twister names .
We have had Shetland sheep here at the station for many years and love the wiley nature of these delightful creatures.
With the amount of rain we get here in the Highlands often the fleeces we get are more suitable for felting than carding for spinning .
This week i have been working on both but have fallen in love with this Moorit fleece
I felted into a rug .
Its large for a Shetland and very fine .
I paired it up with some humbug coloured natural blue faced Leicester wool and then a couple of hearts in a brown Lincoln Longwool fleece .
So three different native wools merged together with soap water and love ...ahhhh
It may be a closed shop door but there is plenty of activity here at the Studio.
I suppose i am so lucky not to need to travel to my Studio as it is in the same building but living in an active railway station has its own considerations at this very different time of lockdown .
The rhythms of the day has not changed , fewer trains and almost no passengers but still people contacting me by email or phone requesting kits to allow them make felt in their own homes .
So by request i have put together 3 sizes of kits
our mini kit at just £8, the medium at £10 and just 3 of the deluxe 'rainbow' kits - why just three? we took delivery of some new coiled hoses for the polytunnel and the packaging was so beautiful i just HAD to use it . the rainbow shape looks magnificent with all the many colours of wool - well over 40 shades! i had fun creating them and i hope you have fun if you choose to purchase any of the kits . they come with everything you need - just add warm water and a towel and a world of fun awaits you .
People are changing the way they approach the outside of home world and many feel they are keeping themselves and their neighbourhood safe if they wear a fascial covering.
There is so much overwhelming information that it is hard to decipher , however it makes sense to me to help stop the spread of this virus by covering my mouth when outside the home .
it was when i was wearing one of my own creations and it was remarked how suitable the silk jersey wrap i wore was .
its not as scary as a surgical mask and more to the point it is environmental friendly as its so easy to hand wash as soon as you come home .
So i have to rely on myself as a model - apologies its hard to be serious when you are taking your own photo.
I have been wearing these soft and sensuous tubular wraps for a few years now and find them wonderful in midge infested spaces -so defiantly multi purpose .
See what you think ! I have a wide range of prints so please just ask if there is a specific colour or leaf you might like .
A lot of people who know me would be surprised to hear me say i was shy and probably if you met me one to one , that would not be true . However we are all relearning , we have not the possibility of having people present here so I am working on the pretence that the little screen i can barely see is an interested student. I don't know anything about the watcher, their experience, their fascial expressions i could possible read .
Their body language ! All of this information feedback is lost and any teacher, actor, singer or performer of any kind knows they need to interact with their audience so this is all a new learning for all of us . Visualisation has always been my strong point and so i imagine the person i am speaking with , sharing my knowledge and my passion.
A simple question asked from student and friend across the globe ...
"How do i wash and prepare a fleece i have been gifted ?"
Here is your answer.
Heartfelt Studio has had its doors closed to visitors for 3 weeks now and under lockdown it may be many months before there is a movement of people.
At Dalmally Railway Station our energies are given to the land itself and the sheep who are presently lambing. We have been developing our food resources for an uncertain future .
New skills will be honed and much renovation to this beautiful station.
Trains are still running like a ghost of their former self on a skeleton service where few dare to travel by public transport.
It is a time for reflection and vision for the future .
There are many people beginning to use their time learning new skills
and materials for felt making is what we provide.
Our online service will hopefully provide that need for those on lockdown.
Bear with us as we get our wools and tools up on our online shop to help provide material for felt making ,spinning and knitting wools .
We have a huge range so email us if what you need is not in the online shop presently.
I hope also to do some short videos of felt making techniques to share and help in your confinement.
None of us know what the future holds for us but we have today - a present.
We do know that expression through craft feeds the soul
In like a Lion and out like a lamb, a strange Spring but the flowers blossom and the lambing Has begun
A surreal time for most of us around the world but still the cycle of life goes on , the sun sets and the sunrises and the mountains look on having seen it all before . New life in lambing brings a sense of closeness to the natural world
A wonderful weekend event making normal of the turmoil of our present situation worldwide .
To escape to the stunning beaches and the delightful village of Dornoch on Scotlands North coast was wonderful but I was working too .
Luckily my work is also my pleasure and being a guest tutor at this friendly event was a delight .
I learned a lot too and especially about Sashiko- a Japanese form of stitching that i knew little about .
The Team who give up their time and energy to create this event each year made a lovely range of outdoor creations to brighten up the area for the visitors .
Even the flowers in the villages tubs were a blast of colour .
Ideal to inspire the students who took part and created so many lovely flowers over the two days of workshops .
I even escaped for a visit the church hall at the other end of the village to see all the other exhibitors .
It was such a busy social event also with a talk on the Friday evening on Sashiko textiles both traditional and modern and then on the Saturday evening a pot lunch supper with all the organisers , tutors and exhibitors.
I don't know of any other event that creates such an event .
Well done to the organisers and I look forward to see what great opportunities you weave into next years event.
Thank you to my lovely hosts too, I always enjoy my time in their company .
What do you do in Argyll on a wet Wintery day ? Organise a workshop of course at the cosy station Studio
A local group of Woman's Institute members got together from various ends of Argyll to spend a lovely day crafting at the Studio . 10 is a large number of students in the Studio but time spent in preparation meant everyone had plenty of workspace and all the materials they needed to hand. Its always challenging for me to multi task with lots of options given on the creative choice . Felted landscapes were chosen by some , felted sculpted flowers by others and a new one for me too is an inventive way to learn the skills of both needle felting and wet felting - creating a pot with a lid . A talented group with mixed felting experience but very able with their crafting skills , i knew we could pull it off in the short day they had with me.
I was very grateful to my assisting "tea boy" who made sure everyone was well fed and watered. A lovely group of ladies who were a joy to spend a miserable wet Saturday with , great to see the wonderful creations they took home with them
Alchemy with living plant material is fascinating and a never ending journey of discovery. I had the pleasure of working with a fellow artist over this last weekend in a voyage of discovery . We both had separate questions of our own that working together got many answers and of course many more questions. Shared learning is two fold learning , never be afraid to share your knowledge it always enhances it .
We began by making our plant dye colours and worked on creating inks and thickening inks to screen print with . The viscosity of the ink is very important and many ratios tried before the correct one was achieved .Attempts at gelli printing needs to be rethought but it did answer the questions i had .
Paper was the first part of the experiment and Sumata paper had previously given a magical effect so that was one of the choices . Different thickness of cotton rag cloth were tried and the question of colours and blending answered .
Lobaria pulmonaria grows profusely in my local area of the Argyll West Coast . Our high rainfall and frequent winds allows me to have plenty of windfall plant material . The dye pot had already been used in an early workshop and to the second use i added onion skins .
The resulting golden yellow brown is alive with a life chemical dyes do not give the fibres i use in my work. The second range of paler shades was a third use of the dye pot and the contrast is just perfect with the range of silks and wool breeds dyed .
Dyeing can be simple and for some dye matter a mordant is not needed to assist the dye to fix to the the fibres .
The connection of my work to the natural world around me is so important.
The first dyed fibre with the lighter next dye