Friday, 29 August 2008

week ending 29th August

Big group this week at the Plantation Production felt making workshop, which was mainly about designing and sizing the "Portal into Wholeness and Wellbeing" wall hanging. Ali came to continue laying and felting the inner arch of the portal at Galgael, as well as getting her hands into clay and ceramics with Luis.
Sarah-Jane was also getting rolled in by making stone-felt for the felt portal with some clever effects such a wool neps! Plus:, she is getting Eugune rolled in too! ;-)

Wednesday saw also our participation at the Bridges Programmes Stakeholder meeting in the Pearce Institute. Bridgesprogrammes is a local organisation which help refugees into work in Scotland. It was very nice meeting them all, albeit some of the affiliated community groups we were hoping to meet for possible future working together had not been able to come. Still we hope that future working together is possible between Bridges and Galgael.
Sarah-Jane performed her spinning song she learned from Norman, and we met Sgioba Luaidh properly at last! You can watch Frances giving an introduction to the waulking tradition on
and as snippet of the cheerful energetic singers on Some of the young African men thought the song and rhythm was perfect for to do break dancing to it! Well there would be meat for a future project? !

More pictures can be found here:

The next day, back at Galgeal, the German girls were enjoying themselves with the woolcraft, and would like to felted hats!
So, Anneruth was sourcing a firm foam roll to serve as a base for shaping a hat via needlefelting, which Luis the potter sawed into an oval shape. He also prepared to create hat moulds via plaster pouring for the perfectly measured German heads.

Today on Friday, Laryna and others met for the usual group, with Jackie deciding she will embark on felting one or more pairs of mittens made from Hebridean wool, and got started with stage one: teasing the Hebridean wool. Katie from Berlin also got down to teasing wool for the hats, and thus partaking in the full wool craft process = from fleece to fabric.

Phew - this was a very busy week!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

wool craft log week ending 22nd August + more fun in the woods!

On Wednesday Laryna and Sarah-Jane practised the Gaelic spinning song this week, especially in preparation for our day out and for the Bridges Programmes AGM next week.

Flora and Anneruth had a very small group of 2 only at the Plantations Productions. The decision was made today to go ahead with the Round Portal Felt-piece imitating natural stones, and we made a beginnng by felting the sheets which will be cut to provide the stone slabs for the Portal. See first piece below:

At Galgael, the 3 German girls, Katty, Melanie and Patricia, who are part of an exchange project Berlin-Galgael, got very enthused at the many woolcraft projects sights in the Bothy and are keen to try their hands on woolcraft anytime during their stay the next couple of weeks.

So they can be seen (above) making a flat sheet felt piece for the round Portal felt, a piece of felt which is to imitate the stones for the inner arch.
The girls learned fast and did a second one by themselves more or less... with Lynsey keeping an eye on it all too.

On Friday, after a wee gathering in the bothy, admiring the 2 cones of wool Helen got for us and discussing what we could do with it (see above), it was our big day out: the Nurturing day in Pollok Freestate. Gehan, Issy and Heather were - naturally - part of the party. There was bring and share herbs - which is a vey old tradition: women would gather in the month of August and early September to collect herbs and share herbal lore for the benefit of the whole community.
We had lots of homemade good food and fun to share, such making a fire and singing - and practising singing Gaelic in that.

It was so good to hear Gehan share of how Colin started here in 1997, as a local man, concerned about the local woods and lands, given over to the motorway; and how the protest camp developed into a true community, where the roots of the Galgael lie, including the cradle and playground of the kids, such as Heather's Arran (can you see her above, all shy :-) and Gehan's threesome who were in school though, this sunny afternoon. Shame - Oran would just have loved to make a fire again! It took us a wee while, but we managed, and went home all wonderfully smelling of wood smoke.

Friday, 15 August 2008

woolcraft log week ending 15 August

Anneruth made a sun, moon and stars wall-hanging mobile style: sculptured felt and plantdyed wool. The stars, flat felt and cut, birch leaves and silk; moon with birch leaves and sun with onion skin dyed wool. Presently it hangs at the Portal and serves as a demonstration to the feltmaking project folks there. This week they were 3 folks there further intrigued with the craft: 2 did sculptural felting with Anneruth, and one did a wet felt picture under the 4 element theme. The class this week there also included the brainstorming session for the planned wall hanging on the theme of 'wholeness'.

On Wednesdays also: Learning a Gaelic spinning song with Norman Maclean continues at Galgael. You can watch a teeny weeny glimpse of him on our spot on youtube:

On Thursday Eileen made another attempt on planning a weaving on the frameloom, but then decided that wool craft was not necessarily something she wanted to learn. She had very much enjoyed the Galgael company and we hers, so we shall miss her very much. Good luck, Eileen, to you finding a good job really soon (touch wood!), and come and visit us again sometime soon, too :-)

Anneruth made another attempt in tidying up the bothy again, but there is just too much stuff now for the small place, and the real tidy up thing has to wait till Marie, Rab and Alan will have made the shelves for Martin's desk and our one spare wall, and may be even painted the place up a bit.

On Friday Laryna sorted and plied more of the handspun wool (the various practise balls). Anna picked up the knitting needles again, and finds she can still knit and is now looking for nice coloured wool to try her hands on a baby blanket. Lynsay made more progress on her fine weaving project, too.

Friday, 8 August 2008

woolcraft log week ending 8th August

The week started on Monday with Sarah-Jane dyeing with 'crottal', lichen grown on rocks. Laura had collected this precious handful of lichen 2 years ago in the Northwest of Scotland. It takes hundreds of years to grow crottal, which was customary used by the weavers of the Highlands and Islands to dye the wool for the tweed. Sarah dyed the wool in the traditional way: alternating the layers of wool and lichen in the dyepot. It yielded a gorgeous reddish gold (picture still to be taken), and has the mossy scent characteristic for lichen dyed wool. It also softens the wool, especially as one does not stir it.
The wool dyed with sorrel last week had become quite hard, possibly due to stirring too much?

Wednesday morning Anneruth picked up the felting gear from Naomi, plus the loan of Emma's electric keyboard to help us with learning the Gaalic songs with Norman at noon, which was another treat, esp to hear Sarah-Jane's fine voice taking hold of the tune and words. Laryna returned from her stay with friends in Germany and was warmly welcomed by the Galgael guys and girls, bringing it home to her that she has got a home here now :-)

Flora and Anneruth had difficulty leaving Galgael for the workshop at the Portal, as Flora got roped in to appear in Sunny Govan radio this evening, as part of their ongoing Galgael slot, to talk about the woolcraft group...!

At the Portal then, setting up for the first proper workshop of the programme there, we found our participants numbers having more than doubled. Flora felted round a stone with the 3 who had been along last week, and the new four participants dived into sculptural needle felting a ball with Anneruth.

On Friday

Laryna plyed the grey North Ronaldsay and the Texel Cross wool spun on the Riverfest. It yielded 2 skeins and each skein can now become a knitting craft item such as a wrist warmer or a hat. Also there is still more of both wools, so if anyone wants to spin it finely as it was spun so far – go ahead, ladies!

Mary brought a new tool to make cords with, the Lucet, and tried it out: It looks a promising little thing, to make cords with, and also a device which Galgael wood work folks could make in wood? Esp as it has been used from Viking times to the Victorian times (

Sarah-Jane and Eileen washed a whole Blackface fleece from Gravir – to be made ready for the next woven rug.

And lo and behold, straight from Gravir, Colin's father was here and admired the 2 rugs woven so far from his flock. Do we want more fleeces again this year?

A friend of Marie showed interest in the rugs, and might order one in a darker colour scheme?

Sarah-Jane and Laryna practised singing the Gaelic spinning songs we have begun to learn, whilst being at the wheel and at the drop spindle which Sarah-Jane is now beginning to master as well. She might even make her own spindle with some help of our wood turner friends at Galgael....:-) !

Thursday, 7 August 2008

wool craft log week ending 2nd August

This week was one the busiest ever - and there has been little time to take photos or write things up. So here is therefore only a brief summary of all in one.

The week kind of started with Anneruth and friends on the East-coast of Scotland collecting dye-plants (sorrel from the Pentlands and yarrow from the Bamburgh coast), as well stocking up on fairy wool via another visit to Moondance Wools near Eyemouth.

On Wednesday the 30th of July the feltmaking workshops at Plantation Productions, Govan, kicked off with the Taster session facilitated by Flora and Anneruth, alongside other craft acitivities in the large room at the Portal in Govan Road, as part of the launch of an Art in Mental Health Project. Everybody marvelled at the colours and the feel of the wool and the display felts, and the four woman who dared to dig in with soap and needles were enthused by the felting fun.
Here is the first dry felting practise work of four of the students: based on the theme wholeness and the four elements .
It is great fun to teach folks who are so keen!

On Thursday Eileen and Anneruth worked out how to mordant 500g of Blackface loose wool and how to operate as dyers in the main workshop - quite an adventure, with the gas zylnder fired dyepot, and long ways to lag the water to and fro.
It was so great to see Luis and Eugene, 2 Galgael wood, clay and iron work volunteers, being so fascinated by the plant dye process and especially by preparing the dye plants. All sharesd this experience: how much the smell of the plants reminded them of childhood in the countryside! Eileen and Anneruth would not have managed all that work of separating seeds from stem (sorrel) and bundling (yarrow) without their help.

The next day, Friday, Eileen and Sarah-Jane then put a third of the mordanted wool through the dyebath of the sorrel seeds, carefully trying to time the temperature of wool and dyebath. This is the fawn colours the sorrel seed dye yielded, the darker one being the one left longer in the dye:

Meanwhile Mary and Lynsey lovingly packed dozens of bags of coloured wool for the Pollok Family Day event, some with the sticks for bead felting, some just with loose wool.
They were accompanied by Sarah-Jane, Eileen, Verene and Anneruth trying to learn Gaelic spinning songs and woolcraft terms from famous Norman Maclean. What a treat to have the 'real thing' - a man from the Hebridees, to teach the gab! VERY difficult, though! Will take lots and lots of practising!

Whilst Sarah-Jane and Eileen hang up the dye plants behind the big loom in the foyer and in the sail loft, Anneruth and Lynsey went forth to find the place in Pollok Park they were supposed to do the felting with kids the next day at the Family Fun day. Upon return the car got loaded with the gear and taken to the activity centre at the Pollok stables, near which the site of action was. Anneruth then still had to do the signage, heading for a late night.

Next morning, Saturday 2nd August, around 8am, two bleary eyed folks (Lynsey and Anneruth) unpacked the gear under constant showers into a slightly flooded gazebo! The day ahead seemed very daunting! So little space and so wet! But thanks to the help of our host and neighbours, Woodland Workers, our own inventiveness (in sheltering the tables from the rain with tartan plastic) and above all for the breaking through of the sun :-) .... we felt soon ready for the crowds with our colourful display and various felt and weaving crafts to do.

Naomi came, too, and with her, it seemed, the crowds. We were kept very busy and the kids and parents loved the felting and weaving. See and read more of that on

The day and one of the busiest of woolcraftyatgalgael weeks ended beautifully in Naomi's garden with a lovely meal she had cooked for us and her family, and with lively entertainment provided by our new Galgael angel, 6 year old Emma. Thankfully, Naomi was also able to offer to store the felting gear until next week... !

This week was very confirming of the strength and purpose which our woolcraft team has reached: people are ready to follow their own initiatives, to do things and to learn things, - there is a real demand both for goods to sell and for teaching and demos to deliver, - and there is supportive community of women, catching up on the rich Galgael lore ("how did it start? who is who? what is the community magic we all feel about?") and taking leads for projects.

The more learning and giving there is, the more abundance there is and the more there is to learn and to earn....

In many ways this week was a true 'Lammas' festival, by default: celebrating hard work and good skills, first harvests and making plans for the fruits of our labour ...