Friday, 25 July 2008

woolcraft log 25-7-08

Quiet day at Galgael today with many folks on Holidays, but the bothy was buzzing with the wool crafters :-)
The only one who did not make it today, apart from Laryna who is on Holiday, were Naomi (and she had been to and fro here during the week to take things out of the boxes from the Riverfest), Hazel and Sarah (have not seen her for ages - hope she is all right?)
Apart from tidying up and welcome Kentucky fried chick Sarah-Jane back (she did get a lot of sun over in Kentucky!) the 3 main tones of today were:
  • how can we make our wee Bothy a more practical and beautiful place? 
  • getting things ready for the felting projects next week
  • sorting Verene's beautiful longwool crossbreed fleece from the Woolfest
The latter was done by Verene and Sarah-Jane in the sun in the yard, whilst the Ian and the guys cooked a barbeque.
Flora, Anneruth and Linsey got the wool, display and felting tools for next week together,
whilst Anna and Eileen brainstormed ideas for the beautification of the bothy, and drawing also Martin in who holds his office here, too: better lights (clip on ones from Ikea?), more upper level shelves, reshuffling tables... Next week when more of the Galgael folks are back we all would like to get cracking!
Everybody got roped in to tidy things up, especially under the tables, and we expanded our wool and rags material storage to Verene's loft! Mary did the laboursome business of unwinding all the handspun yarns from the spinning wheel bobbins into balls. Some of it will be great knitting wool!
Speaking of winding wool off: at the end of the day Sarah-Jane found some time to at last pick up the spinning wheel again and prove to herself that she has not forgotten to spin, and - at long long last she had enough wool to learn how to spin and how to wind it into a skein on the niddy noddy, and here she is with her first skein!
Next stage, after washing it, will be dyeing it! It seems that Eileen and her are now set to explore what seasonal plants can be harvested and used.

One other happy face to show you: Ian's! He has been gifted by us the small Hebridean fleece rug for his support to the woolcraft group. He plans to take it on the voyaging boat trip to Iona - where the sheep that grew and gave it is still grazing!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Woolcraft at Galgael at the Glasgow River Festival

whilst we write up the notes, check this:
our photo album

and a wee video

we found also this:
Thanks coal2k for a picture of Sunday's main attraction: Mary at the wheel

The Galgael were as always the best show on the fair - everybody agrees on that!
The 9 wool crafters women took their turns over Saturday and Sunday and it was great to talk to people, make contac
ts, kindle interest, and get new ideas for kids crafts and wool crafts.
What sold most were of course the small wee things, such as the felted bracelet. We did not selll any of the rugs as we had hoped - but then this is maybe not the kind of scene where people want to spent that kind of m
oney, esp in our current credit crunch climate. The more important it would be to get people to spin their own wool and make their own clothes, weaving or knitting? Knitting wool for sure was not being sold - so we need to find better ways of 'educating' the public, as one team member put it.

Making your own rag rugs - when Flora brought hers on Sunday - seemed to jog the older people's memories and the younger ones got interested, too, as it means recycling and make new out of old.

The definite crowd pleaser was the spinning demos. Surely every visitor who went with a camera through the tent must have one or more pictures of Mary or Laryna (or one of the other girls) spinning the ancient tune. And indeed, like tune it seemed - that action of the wheel turning, and the fluff transforming into thin thread: people of all ages stood transfixed and like hypnotised as they watched and listened as the wheel turned...

The other popular action was kiddies crafts: be it making felt balls or weaving bracelets on cardboard or having a go on a one of the little looms, or the big frame - again this ancient movement of fingers and threads on looms, and the creating of some semblance of a cloth, reaches very deep in everyones soul, regardless of age, race or gender!

Next year we must have a full length strip on the big frame loom again: as this is most popular with the kids, because - not only in actual fact is it easier than the little frames, but it just feels also so much more 'real' on the upright frame!

As said before: Hazel's bracelets sold well - but even more so sold her cards which she had to cramp in at the wool craft stall on Saturday, as there was no other space in the tent. On Sunday she had more space than to herself. It was a great encouragement for her!

Laryna's mobiles went, too, but more because the customers were connected with German crafts, where these things are more custom. Again: do we need to educate folks? How can people feel that a mobile out of fine light colourful wool is so much more heartwarming for young and old than anything plastic? As the mobiles are a little bit of work they can not be sold too cheaply (Laryna reduced them already from £12 to £8), the best route is really this: workshops for the mothers so they can make them themsleves!

We hope that we will get some commissions for workshops and demos out of our presence at the River Festival. And maybe even a few more craft-skilled women to take turns in delivering them as a pride for Galgael community and for themselves?

Next on our agenda, and in preparation also for next years Riverfest is teaming up with the Gaelic Waulking Song group and have a bash at proper waulking the cloth in ture Gaelic style!
Before that... making more of the little things that people can afford to buy, including the also popular bead craft-kits,........ and advertising our bigger products, such as the rugs and handspun knitting wool?

Friday, 18 July 2008

countdown to Riverfest

Thursday the 17th
was spent by Anneruth and Hazel with making up a flyer, writing labels, and making a few small felt-ball bracelets. Galgael istelf was bursting in the seems with action but still there was Eugene, a Galgael volunteer, who was free for an hour to help with beaming up (= putting the warp) on the big frame, another 50cm width, with every second pair of dents strung. Lynsey came in, too, and prepared more wool for the next rug, learning also how to card on the drumcarder, as well finishing off the little woven bag. Anneruth's job was then to finish spinning, plying and washing the brown Jacob-Shetland cross knitting wool, as well as plying the red wool for her weaving demo on the rigid heddle loom.

Friday 18 th, - the day of emptying the workshop and setting up a woolcraft residency in Riverfest Marquee:
A flurry of activities - balancing things across wood work packages ready to go, as well as puppies tied to a moving bench and trying to get to a working PC and printer to finish off the flyer- who was there from the woolcrafters anyway? Well, Flora, Anna, Anneruth, Laryna, Lynsey, Hazel. Hard to remember now who did what. May be it suffices to say that inspite of the rain and the marquee not being ready as planned by midafternoon, we managed, with an extra evening shift to set up residency almost complete by 8pm. It was incredible how many baskets and things great and small came together, for our sale, displays, demos, and kids activties,.... and that we got 3 tables after all, in what turned out to be a very cramped full marquee again.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Riverfest fever: preps day + much more!

Riverfest fever filled the bothy today... a Wednesday afternoon!

Sorry, no camera at hand so your imagination will have to fill in the gaps :-)

Naomi brought in not just one but 2 crochet hats from the single ply chunky spun Jacobswool. One larger 'garden one' (done with the big wooden crochet hook with the small hook!) and one with a smaller size hook. The heads of all present had to sport them - and clearly Eileen's head stole the show! But the hats are already sold at material cost, the handspun wool, to Naomi herself! But we will still display them at the Riverfest with sign 'sold' on them.

Anneruth and Flora refreshed themselves on how to flat felt. But Anneruth (typical!) never had time to finish hers! Flora did a nice wee piece that looked like a sea scape.

Hazel came in with a felted bead bracelet she made and embarked on needle felting a 'what's it' (sheep?) as well as showing Lynsey how to wet and needle felt round and long beads, and needlefelt a 'what's it' (mouse?), and then doing another bracelet.

Lynsey had finished stringing the little loom, which proved to have a 'what's it' of a different sort: the little heddle-plate would not fit into the gap it was made for ! Nevermind, one can operate it by pushing it up and down with one hand whilst operating the shuttle with the other. She took it back home again for experimenting with yarns to get a good weave set out of it.

Mary was not only plowing her way through the whole basket of white Texel-Cross, but also phantastically brushed the Hebridean fleece, the small half one we felted ages ago, to get it ready for a possibe sale on the weekend.
Good that Mary brought her handcarders in! Has anyone seen the red tube bag with Anneruth's carders and the Merino rainbow wool in it? :-(

Eileen did a great job first of cleaning the drum carder from the Blackface Kemp, and then tackled the Texel on it - it is a nobbly kind of wool and kind of refuses to get streamlined! It is good to have a few batts now to get us started on the weekend, with the rest probably getting hand carded by Mary on Sunday.

Anneruth had set up (at home) her rigid heddle loom with the red woolen mill yarn as warp, in a loose weave, as the little loom is struggling with its warp beam comig out of the glued joint at the wheel plate. Weft same as warp, it is an experiment now for a shawl, where the woven cloth is going and brushed. Let's see what will come of it!
She also brought back the washed Blackface first rug. Still damp - as the thickness of the wool takes ages to dry (that was it for 2 days outside in the wind!). It will not be sold, esp as it has many imperfections (the edges are not neat and it is not evenly woven with so many hands having been invloved on it), but used for further experimenting with, such as needlefelting a Celtic knot onto it.

Naomi took the finishing off of the woven little pouches on, which proved (as these things) more tricky than thought at first sight. Handspuns and chunky wovens are just so different to handle from factory fibre or fabric and make the finishing off part of a product a little more challenging. But with Mary leading the cord making it is heading into the right direction, and Naomi again taking homework away with her :-)

The Riverfest Rota is looking good now with everyone putting in a shift or two, before and after and on the days. Now we must keep our fingers crossed that we are getting the space we need to do the various demos and kidscrafts. It would be good if we could take the drumcarder safely with us, too! It is such an important piece of the wool processing!

Still so much more to do, though: stringing the big frame; making the labels, carding wool for the weaving demo on the big frame, plying more red wool for the weaving on the rigid heddle loom..

Which reminds me: Davey and Jack made these long shuttles for it - and are now waiting for a Blackforest Gateaux as a reward!

Then there were two more happenings today:

Four staff from the Bridges Programmes Project came to link up with us again after we had met two of the senior staff, Zuki and Elio, at the Reschuffle in May in the PI. They are working with Refugees to help them find jobs. (See their website for more details.) We talked about possibilites how we could be involved together in projects, esp with women and with youths. Some good ideas were passed round - so watch this space to see what transpires over the next year or so! First step: for us woolcrafters to have a stall at their AGM/Stakeholder event end of August in the PI. Wider vision: partnering in our 'The Unbroken Thread' idea, with using traditional song and dance to make a craft-sharing session a real must to go to! More leads for funding to be explored (especially for that portable foot pedal loom!) as well as seeing whether Galgael can manage to open their doors on a Thursday eve, as nothing is more inspiring to be in here.

In the evening Flora and Anneruth met in Aziza's (shame Laryna was off duty by then!) to discuss the Plantation Felting project. We are ready for the taster session, and have also the framework for the 8 weeks sessions. The finer details of the 8 weeks will be set once we know who signs up on or after the Taster day on the 30 July.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Woolcraft log 11-7-08

Full bothy today again! We are real miracle workers to fit all and everything into that tiny space!
Luckily people came at different times over the day: Anneruth, Eileen, Flora, Hazel, Laryna, Linsey, Mary, Naomi.

The last one first:
Hazel came in just before shop closing and took commission for some felted items as demo for Plantation Project. Hopefully she will be enthused to join in at The Portal and will be enthusing folks there.

Lynsey, a community art worker with experience in weaving, made it along today ("at last", she said, "been meaning got come for ages ever since I saw this exciting bothy - there is nothng like that in Glasgow!") and went hood line and sinker for weaving action: threading up the little loom Nori gave us....

Meanwhile Eileen continued weaving her choice of green weft on the frame, learning successfull how to make a weft facxed weave.
Both processes - threading a little loom frame and weaving on it - are actually quite tricky and taxing and take a lot of practise and training of the small hand muscles before it comes with ease... And, above all: yes, the weaving processes all in all are VERY SLOW processes.
Even professional and long experienced weaver Laryna, when today at last seeng the finished rug laying on the floor - sighed deeply: 'So small - and it took so long.'

YES, the ca 1 meter long and 50 cm wide beauty with those fabulously neat edges got cut off the frame today (see picture on top of blog and on our July album) at long last! Down came with it also the small (50cm long) but thicker rug that got started by Anneruth last year and woven on by several people learning. It did not reach perfection as the beginning is slightly wider than the end - but it is a good examply of a chunky rug. They got both tied off by Laryna (deciding together with us it should only have two rows of orangey end threads) and taken home for washing.

Taking about washing: Anneruth had washed 4 lots of wool over the week at home (as drying wool in the garden is still the best in summer) : the gorgeous grey-blend North Ronaldsy from the Woolfest (for fine spinning and fine felts), a whole Blackface from her 2007 Pentland lot (for rug weaving) as well as some Blackface-Texel (for spinning demos), and some of the moorit Shetland-Jacob from Kilmichael Glassary.

Under the pressure of the River Fest approaching next week, and the rug getting finished, Naomi slaved away at the newly regained drum carder, and Mary prepared the Texel-cross wool for spinning demo.
Anneruth tried to keep her head together and making sense of her lists of rota and to-dos for next week, Riverfest as well as planning felting practise sessions with Flora, as well as not loosing it over the Bothy PC simply not going online....
Well, all in all, it was avery busy day, ahead of the VERY busy week next week..

GLASGOW RIVER FESTIVAL is a big event for the whole of Galgael to go to every year. You can see our all input on a photoalbum of the 2006. When the River Festival got launched around the turn of the Millenium, the Orcuan was top feat. Looking at this year's website of the Festival it looks ever bigger and every more fun fare - BUT: very unlike every other year: the Galgael are not mentioned! Strange, given that the pay Galgael is getting to 'put on their show' as well as set up general stuff on the ground has not gone up and that they get asked ever more to do...
Real craft is still not quite valued in the fast race....
lets see what we meet this time next week..
see you there...

Friday, 4 July 2008

planning a felting project with Plantation at The Portal

Galgael was asked by Plantation Productions in Govan whether we could facilitate a 2 month felting project as part of their mental health community network art project. Laryna and Anneruth went along to meet Angela at The Portal in 978 Govan Road to see the venue and discuss requirements.

It is a new project for Plantation Productions, and will be part of preparing for an exhibition at the beginning October, sourcing the material from 4 art projects: filming, animation, ceramics and felting.

We also the ceramic studio next door, called Deepfired and owned and run by Julia. It feels great to have a real craft workshop there right in the centre of Govan...

We have accepted the commission and are now getting our heads together to plan the project which will be launched on the 'taster session day', Wednesday the 30th June with a two hour introduction to felting which is to enthuse participants to sign up for the 8 weeks course starting on the 4th of August.

Gathering ideas, Anneruth was very pleased to be able to visit later on at home the Penicuik art in health group (remember the felting exhibition from May?) and see how they work their felting project. She learned that the brilliant big banners there ( see this and this) were done by one woman over the period of several months with just a few hours per week, mainly through needle felting upon a prepared wet felted basis.
It was good to see how quickly the women there had taken to needlefelting and learn about the foam cushion (see the pictures here) ! Anneruth went straight to Dunelm to get one for the taster session at Plantation!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Woolcraft log 3-7-08

This week Galgael is closed on the Friday, and with most woolcrafters away on holidays anyway, it was not too bad to have to cancel at very short notice.
As Laryna's day off work was Thursday this week, it was just as well that Anneruth and Eileen came as well to catch with loose ends and from the trip to the Woolfest last weekend.

Anneruth had finished weaving 2 test pieces on the wool-warped little weaving frame:

one with grey milling wool as well as handspun Jacob, and one with a mixture of 2-ply milling wool, exploring patterns possible in this tabby weave. The outcome of the 'set' (the relationship between warp and weft, as it sets) was especially for the handspun wool fairly 'see-through'. Each strip had a brought and a narrow end, due to the non-conformed spread of the weft: more weft length in a shed => weftfaced set; less weft length in the shed => warp showing. Anneruth did not like the outcome of her long efforts of that weave, nor did Laryna!
But, Eileen was keen to practise a bit of 'waulking the cloth' with this strip, and gave it a good hour or so of fine fulling on the donated glass washboard (sorry, no pics of that feat!) with a precious handmade plant soap.
The outcome was phantastic: a soft and fragrant piece of woven material, where the gaps had closed and even any uneven edges had been nudged away. It shrunk by 10%, though!

You can also see Eileen getting down straight away to starting a new piece on the little frame loom - her first weaving experience!

Laryna and Anneruth meanwhile calculated the next warp for Anneruth's rigid heddle loom on the 50/10cm reed. And Laryna came up with the great idea to use a pegloom as rattle (a spacer for the threads as they get beamed onto the warp beam)! She also mobilised Davey in the workshop to cut some flat sticks to be used as warp sticks (stciks put in the warp whilst beaming it up, to stabilise the threads on the beam). Anneruth took them away for sanding and - as the weather was nice, she used the lovely eve at home to set up the warping pecks on the garden table to make a woolwarp (with the red effect millen wool plied x 2) - as well as getting the chimnea going to take away the chill.

Slowly but surely, step by step, we get the equipment needed for the complex art and craft of weaving together - esp as much of it is woodwork...

Later on that weekend Anneruth's friend Stephanie came round to help with the beaming up - just as she helped with the first warp on that little rigid heddle loom, the narrow silk warp.

The camera was not always at hand for much of the various stages of this week's wool actio, but you can visit our July Album for some shots of the goings-on.
Oh, and one the things you will not see a picture of, but which was what Laryna did devotely otherwise all day: teasing more white wool for her rug as some other Galgaelians were out and about with the drum carder!