Thursday, 11 December 2008

Welcome to our woolcrafty at Galgael blog


Here you can find and trace what has been going on in our modest and exciting adventures in 2008. Up to the beginning of October you can see a weekly log of them, and from then on you will find highlights as and when they happen and get published.

For a general intro to us and to our backgrund, please read our previous introduction entry, which has now been put into the archives, and is here:

As live action is the motto - you will enjoy the wee video snippets live on and also a little over on

Sarah-Jane now sings AND spins!

And as one picture tells many a story - see an abundance on

This are some of our group and friends in front of a big piece of woolcraft 2008 action:

the Felt Portal, from the Plantation project in August/September


In the course of this year there have been more than 30 folks (mainly but not only women) who have been learning and teachings a wider variety of woolcraft skills. The Galgael comunity has been enriched by the 'fluffy' group, and we have been enriched by the burly banter that is Galgael. Friendships grew, and life changes too. We are all volunteers when 'at home' (at Galgael), but increasingly in demand (and not able to fufill the demands due to lack of time) to do outreach, to teach and to facilitate in the wider community, in schools and events, in wellbeing projects and drop-ins.

We know there is a big need to expand this small part of Galgael, that is beginning to outgrow the small bothy with all its wools and tools, and busy hands and the gift of the gab :-)

We are looking forward to see where 2009 will take us. So far it seems into consolidation of skills.


Monday, 8 December 2008

we have much to celebrate: stories of finished personal projects

watch this space: featuring some of our finished pieces or projects we are proud of...

everyone from the wool craft group is invited to show and say a bit of the piece she did this year and feels most proud of and why...

we have much to celebrate...

Here is one sample:

Pictures are great but feeling (touching) and seeing is best... It is very soft!
I am proud of this wee shawl because at last I had the time and the space to weave again almost properly (fully properly would be if it was a 'proper' loom with foot pedals!). It took ages, still, the whole procees, but every step is a great wee memory now: getting the warp threads cheaply from the Kilmahog Mill near Stirling, plying the , making the warp 5 threads per inch on my garden table with the wee chimnea keeping me warm on the cool summer night, warping it with a friend and some song whilst we were doing it; weaving it any free minute I got (which were not many!) and then making a last minute bash out of weaving it to the end. At the very end of the warp I experiemented with spinning some blend carded icelandic + blackface wool, to see how the set would work out and what it could yield. Then, after cutting it off, measuring it and tying the warpends, I fulled it, and was so pleased with the result: a hard stiff and widely woven piece of material became a soft fairly close woven hugable shawl! It can now just be left as a shawl, or I can weave another same piece and make a waist coat type wearable out of it. The little experiment piece is a table runner in its own right, but it is also showing me what to use in terms of thickness of thread for future projects.
There is potential in that little rigid heddle loom, thanks to my Galgael woodwork friends who fixed the heddle stick ends, and who made me warping pecks.
I know I have not given you all the info yet (length, weight, shrinkage, etc) - but you may ask. Please do! Need to dash now and hoover before it gets early dark here!
c u soon

Saturday, 22 November 2008

being heartfelt by Liz

At last -today was the day where the long awaited outing to the Heartfelt Studio of Liz Brown in Ayrshire too place. The places had been booked out for weeks, but some last minute changes in the lives of our two new friends Mary (the one who paints pictures with wool since the Portal projects) and Alison (the one with the red hair) meant 2 spare places which quickly got filled with Naomi's little Emma and with Jude, a Galgael friend with already quite some felting experience.

After some getting lost in rural Ayrshire, our 3 cars and 11 folks arrived safely in the Studio in Ochiltree for a most amazing day of 'being heartfelt by Liz'. There is simply no other way of putting it. We were all totally blown over by Liz's great Irish heart, her superb craftsman and teaching skills and scope (how else could do 11 different projects in a studio that usually holds a max of 8 students!), and the absolute unending manifoldness of felt products for sale and on display, one more magical than the other! A true inspiration to each one of us. Best to be seen on our "Galgael folks being hearfelt by Liz" photoalbum

There are also 2 videos capturing some lovely moments of Liz teaching us how to felt ropes and beads - And if you get a chance, visit her website, and sign up for a course or buy some of her beautiful heartfelted goods.

You want to know to was part of the party and what they did?

Anna (from Helensburgh) and Alison (the dark haired, our Portal felter #1), who had missed the beginning of the Portal felting classes caught up with picture felting first, and then learned how to felt flowers for brooches and embellishment.

David (the 10 year old son of Jackie), who has, as it turned out, the perfect felter hands albeit never done it before, started with a picture, too, and then made a seamless vessel., as well as a rope and beads!
Jackie and Laryna made a big bag each.
And Naomi (lucky devil!) got to make a nunofelt scarf on the big table, and her little Emma learned lots more felting as she already knew with making beads and ropes, and als helping the grown ups to full their projects when they got weary. Something also David did - to help the adults with the fulling!

Debbie made a beautiful merino hat, Himalayan style, and Anneruth also laid her hands on making a hat, a rimmed one, but from her own wool, a carded blend of white Wensleydale and the white bits of her fawn Alpaca fleece.

Jude courageously dug her hands into a pair of boots with earth fairy flaps, and Sarah-Jane - well... she got started on her big project: felt-puppets for a story telling project which she is planinng for next year and beyond! She at last had a go a seamless felt (the hand puppet glove) and nunofelting (the puppet dress). She will still have to needlefelt the head at home.
It was such a relief for the nunofelters to be able to make use of Liz's 'Seffa Pinky Bling Bling': the felt rolling machine! Aye, felting is hard work esp on the delicate fabrics which need endless rolling!
We all came away later as planned but also richer as expected in new skills, through doing and watching, new inspirations and new glorious felted things and deepened friendships.

Thank you so much, Liz, for heartfelting us all!

Friday, 21 November 2008

Sgioba Luaidh visiting Galgael

This Friday was a very special day, because at long last Sgioba Luaidh Inbhirchluaidh (The Inverclyde Waulking group) came to put on a show at Galgael. If you have follwoed this blog ehre you will have met them already several times - at the Woolfest in July, and then Frances and Innes at an informal visit. This time they came in full strength - 8 women and Archie. They donned theiur Highland crone costumes and then never got cold in the big cold workshop, waulking the cloth with full throated waulking songs, bringign alive the history of the Isles, singing of feuds and fights (and there was lots in the times when these working songs were sung in very hamlet and town!), and of course, of the joys and sorrows of love and parting.
One hour before lunch and one hour after - it sure was a feast of witnessing the hypnotic spell cast by these vigeourous songs, and now and then also the longing lilt of a spinning song.
The guys (Navigating Life Trainees and trainers) were spellbound, and touched to their bones by something they may have never heard before, but which touched them in their blood with the power of past generations.
Some even dared to have a go at the waulking themselves, and learned soon that the grab&throw handmovements of the cloth are not that easy!

It is best if you see all the pictures on this album:

and better still if you see and hear the 10 wee video clips on the urban.clansman youtube channel

Here is one tiny taster of a beautiful spinning song sung by Frances whilst Innes was spinning and our women were teasing wool:

So, remember to visit &

for to see some of the show, and visit also, the group's website and learn about their story - and maybe invite them to your group, too. It is great fun and they have many registers they can pull, with their big repertoire and vibrant vigour, as well very modern IT support (very educative and imaginative slideshows!)

We know we want them back - knowing also they loved the madness that is Galgael - and we would like the harp next time (February?), too, and then also (in early summer?) try out the songs in the boats to the beat of the oars, as many of the songs have been sung by men to the rhythm of rowing.

So, lets open the song books of the past,

and thanks be those here who make them last..

Thursday, 30 October 2008

the rest of the October month

Happy New Celtic Year!

It is post-Portal time now! Folks dare to draw their breath again in the bothy and trying to get over the fact that it is all over! What next?

Anneruth went on holiday at last, and as the winter approaches she will be coming through less now from the East of the country which leaves the questions: who will be taking pictures and updating the blog then? :-( ?

Lets try the 'once a month blog' then, shall we?

Whilst Laryna and others explored more knitting and spinning in the bothy, Anneruth was in Ford (not far from our Barmaddy, Loch Awe) and got herself a full Baby Alpaca fleece! Meet Breeze

who is now growing his second shearing, and click there to see more of his georgeous family at Isobel Callen's wee Alpaca Farm in the Highlands. The wool fibres are absolutely amazing, soft as down, and taking ages to spin because it is so fine. The plan is to use the secondary shearing parts of the fleece for felting, and the saddle part for spinning and weaving, and maybe knitting too. The fawn colour should lend itself to dyeing, too.

Galgael got given a beautiful fleece from the lady with Hebridean Spinnng wheel: a Shetland-Longwool cross. Sarah-Jane is over the moon as she sorts the fleece (one bag with the best bits for spinning, and one bag with the shorter bits for felting): that was just what she needed for her new projects. Which projects? You wait and see and let her tell you herself!

Verene meanwhile is at long last having a go at weaving, and she takes to it like a duck to water! She has learned the basics (of tension and all that) in an hour, and is now experimenting with colours for a ... hm? little bag?

And Sarah-Jane is discovering the art of sculptural needle-felting. Here is her first project: from a round ball to a fairy head.

The last day of October saw a wee Galgael community event: Allhallows eve celebration.

It was also of course that time of the year again where we remember Colin's passing, now already 3 years ago (see and it is the end and the beginning of the Celtic Year.
We gathered to carve turnip lights and weave god's eyes, to bring the Orcuan home, to bake bread and share a meal and give thanks - with Gehan giving eagle feathers...

If you want to see pictures of all that go to
For more of our woolcraftatgalgael pictures and the stories they tell, visit

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Mary's writing on the workshop process

Walking down Govan Road after my first foray into the world of felting I was shocked at the amount of brain cells that were leaping from dormancy and lethargy! What a great day with such creative potential !
Guided by Anneruth and Flora an ancient world was revealed:
Wool, the Saviour of Mankind!

As the weeks passed by all participants were amazed at their abilities. Watching their faces glowat their achievements was a joy to see. No qualifications or skills needed. A truly universal craft.

Apart from personal enjoyment and growth, the path also led us to our Group Work. There we were throwing in ideas, debating, deciding and agreeing.
We all played different parts in creating the very beautiful "Portal Banner". Many hands worked together but looking at it there is unity and we all achived that "wholeness" we had set out to find.

Cups of tea warming hands at Galgael, Winter clothes brought out early. Timeplans forgotten. Everyone putting in time when they could. A truly communal effort and a great experience.
I've had a great wee journey and all I did was pick up a wee leaflet.

Many Many thanks to all fellow travellers and guides.
Journey on and fare thee well
Mary Docherty

And thank you so much, Mary, for your beautiful gifts, the 2 'painting with wool' pictures, those amazing 'copies' of postcards of the Hebridees:

It seems you have found your very own brand!

Friday, 10 October 2008

A rich account of the making of the Felt Portal

A big thanks to all who made it possible that this felt making project came about :
Plantation Productions and their funders; the Galgael trust, its appreciative welcome into the big workshop, and whole community there and especially its passionate volunteers; but above all thanks be to the enthusiastic and now quite skilled participants of the classes!

To get the best account of this rich process, pleasae visit our various photoalbums and the slide show:
On you can find over 200 pictures of almost every stage of the process of making the Felt Portal.
You can see more photos from the process when it took place at 15 Fairle Street over the last 2 months dotted throughout our 2 albums
and also this month of course

A brief slide show summary of the journey the Felt Portal took all of us can be found here:

This is what Debbie wrote on her journey with the Portal

I really enjoyed the felt making class at the Portal. I had dabbled in a bit of felt making before but have now learned a lot more about it from Anne-ruth and Flora. I had never heard of needle-felting and it really is useful for adding interesting designs to pieces of work. I enjoyed mostly being in the company of the nice friendly group of people who appreciate and enjoy arts and crafts. It was great to see the team of workers in the photos and the felted portal design as it moved through the various stages. It really does look beautiful and nice and peaceful. I can just imagine walking through that portal and up along the riverside. Thanks Anne-ruth and Flora for all your help and patience.

We received more notes of appreciation strewn in emails - and we gave Mary's poetic writing a blog entry on its own

There was a wee launch for the Timeout project (which the felting classes were part of) on Friday the 3rd of October in the Portal

The output of the various art classes (pottery, photography, cardmaking, and of course film making and animation, the core activity of plantation productions) was quite a feast to see. Now we very much hope that our felted Portal into Wholeness will find worthy home in the community there.

As Luis put it so aptly: "There were moments I thought this is not getting finished as ever new hurdles had to be taken. It is a pure miracle that it got done!"

Yes, it s quite a miracle - and we are looking forward to visit the Portal often. We need to get plague done still for it (informing folks in a nutshell as to the whodunits!) ...

The Interactive Felt-Portal at the wall in the Portal, Govan,
- during the launch party of 'Timeout'

Friday, 3 October 2008

week ending 3rd October

Before the Portal got to the stage you see it above (= being carried out of 15 Fairley Street for the final time) - this week saw still lots of action, and joint decision making ...
  • what works best to stiffen the felt?
  • how do we join the 2 big felt pieces with the bamboo frame?
  • where do we put the tree now?
  • what do we use as hanging rope?
  • where do we put the lovingly created details?
You can best see the last 3 day countdown unfold on our photoalbum from photo 166 to 203.
And then from picture 204 to 217 you can get a look in at Friday evening at the Portal where Plantation Productions had a wee reception to showcase the works done in the Time Out sessions, and esp to show the animations and films done, everything in the light of Art in mental health.

Here is a picture of the Felt Portal before the exhibition started, showing you our clever solution to the many eager and so different views as to where the felted figures should go on the now interactive felt portal banner! We fitted each of them with a little velcro and put them up on a felt board, inviting visitors to gently place the figures on the banner, creating their own path into wholeness.
At the end of the night all little details had found a place in the greater picture and we gathered in front of it.

Friday, 26 September 2008

woolcraft log week ending 26th September

Last class at the Portal this week for the feltmaking project.
Feverish fun in felting the crochet cords for the bags can be seen above from Anna and Alison, and two last minute projects below: Alex finally getting down to her cushion and Moya (Plantation productions staff member) managed at last to try her hands at felting: a picture for Eva, her two year old.

Menawhile Flora and Naomi were handsewing the stone felt pieces which had escaped the sewing machine.

Well, it might have been the last week for making the felt portal at the Portal in Govan, - it certainly was not the last days or week for the felt portal process:
at Galgael in Ibrox on Thursday and Friday many hands (Flora, Laryna, Mary, Ali, Luis, and who else was there ?) were busy making more details such as plants, leaves and animals, and the tree begun to take shape at last.

The greatest headache was how to get a supporting frame right for the big felt hanging..... As the welded version idea had to be scratched - due to lack of volunteers and overall weight of the iron rods - Flora's glorious idea of using bamboo canes proved the saving grace.

Albeit it was a public holiday on Friday, Galgael was opened for the wool crafters (+ and a couple of saw mill workers) that day to make headway on the portal banner and it's frame.
Luis, who had also taken a liking to needlefelt details (including a Bhirlin boat!), heat-bent the bamboo rods into arches and structures which can support the double layers of the felt portal.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

woolcraft log week ending the 20th of September

This Week saw the first stages of assembling stone felt arch-wall to become the gate for the picture-felt. Flora begun to sew the stone-felt pieces together with the sewing machine, whilst folks needlefelted more tree branches, butterflies and birds as well as wet-felt sheets for similar features,

and Mary transformed a postcard from the outer Hebrideans into a felt for a cushion cover.

Thursday and Friday saw more hill and sky details being needled on the picture felt by Ali, Lynsey, and Naomi, as well as Debbie needling some cute sheep and an even cuter doggie to populate the emerging felt landscape.

It is now waiting for it's stonefelt arch to be assembled properly and for more details to be cut and felted...

Thanks to Martin the bothy now at last has a bookshelf for our books and thanks to Jackie, Lynsey and Anneruth it got all tidied up for the Open Doors day on Saturday, when Flora, Sarah-Jane and Verene took turns to welcome visitors and do craft demonstrations.

Friday, 12 September 2008

week ending the 12th of September

This week, at long last, saw Frances and Innes from Sgioba Luaidh at Galgael. They were rather taken by the vastness that is Galgael, and when we all cramped into the wee bothy, to look at Innes's folders and hear Sarah-Jane sing her latest Gaelic song Norman was also part of the party. You can see him here enjoying a quick waulking song demonstration with Innes using a felted Blackface fleece as cloth. And then we were literally blown away by George, friend of Norman, filling the bothy and all Galgael with the mighty drone of the pipes.

We are looking forward to have the whole bunch of waulking song singers with us in November, on the 21st, where they will entertain and teach everybody on songs and traditions of the Highlands and Islands. As the woolcrafters we are now looking into doing something together with Sgioba Luaidh, combining our love of the lore and our skills for ... well, watch this space!

Meanwhile Sarah-Jane and Flora had started to wetfelt the last light grey stonefelt sheet, so that at the Plantation project it could get finished, and we embarked on sizing the prefelt for the Portal picture felt, and on laying out the contours of the scene to be depicted, as well as getting the tree stuffed:

The prefelt turned out needing a lot of backing with white wool, all needle felted into it, before we dared to lay the wool for the scene, which was decided to be a landscape spanning the 4 seasons.
You can see it here grow in its fourfold bands under Mary's and Alison's hands back in Galgael the next day:

Once the colours were laid out thr needle felting begun, and it was lovely to have Tawny join us, too. Meanwhile Debbie wetfelted her cushion cover in the bothy, listening to a CD of birdsong.

On Friday at the regular woolcraft group time, more folks carried on with the needlefelting of the background colours - quite a big job that, actuall. But many hands (Lynsey, Sarah-Jane, Ali, Naomi and also Anna from Helensburgh) made light work. Laryna and Jackie carried on preparing the dark wool for the mittens (also a big job, it seems!), and were joined by Jeanne, the partner of one of the Galgael volunteers, who finally had managed today to come along with her knitting, too.

For more pictures - remember to visit:

Saturday, 6 September 2008

week ending the 5th of September

It is the last week of our 3 German girls, and Katie had been busy teasing the carding the shetland wool and all 3 were needling away on the hat foam block to create the basis for their hats, and the colours of the hats. But, alas, the clay hat moulds turn out to be too short for the full hat to be shaped on it! So Patricia and Melanie, gracefully are not too phased about it (thanks God!), inspite of the hard detailed work they had put into it, and are content to have their master piece fulled as a flat round piece which will adorn their home made into cushion or bag.
Katie needled a very strong hut material and is taken the dry felt piece home to find a proper hat-mould to finish it off on. Henry the foam-hatmould has his hair stand on end now thinking he is left alone now!

Seeamless bag making at the Plantation project this week, with the action spilling over again into Galgael on Thursday to finish the fulling of the bags. Everybody admiring the bold and beautiful colours.

Lynsey had a go at felting the sheet for the tree (for the Portal), and the washing machine shrunk it considerably to just the right kind of narrow piece of felt a tree needs.

On Friday Mary came with a very nice Sultana cake and Naomi came for a shoulder massage to have the burden of the week being taken of her shoulders. Woolcraft action by Laryna, Jackie, Verene and Lynsey included more preparation of the dark wool ( a blend now of Hebridean and Shetland/Jacob) for Jackie's mitten project, as well as spinning and weaving. Anna from Helensburgh (via the Portal project) also had managed to come along for the first time to Galgael and she enjoyed the wool handling and company.

Friday saw also the farewell party for the German students, who will be missed and who will miss us, as well as visit from Nicola Sturgeon MSP, and a tripple birthday party for Gehan, Heather - and who was the third?
Verene got caught on video spinning and explaining to Nicola our woolcraft project and the very special story of the Hebridean sheep.