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         Grown on the land   ~ 

                            Felted by hand 

Mrs Fingal's Adventure's  ~ facts and musings of  all things  fibre and  felt

High days and low days 

This  is a view of Beinn Alligin fom Ploc , a favourite and vey local  view. Much enjoyed  last Sunday . Everything about our  walk  was  stunning ! The light,  the  colours  -( love that  Scabious),  the relaxed company with   hubby  and the breeze  keeping the  the midgie at bay .   Alot of  enforced time to  slow down a  little this  month. 

Heading out .....

So much food for thought in recent weeks. Like so  many  folk, across Scotland especially, I feel  there is a  cautious sense of new horizons once more. We must not be afraid to  apply our common sense &   reach out to each other in actual life . We must have '..the confidence of flowers..' John Muir . .  Yesterday I ventured to Inverness & Dingwall for the first time  in 4 months.  I could remember how to negotiate a roundabout!  It was a working trip to  deliver new stock, to some shops which are now able to re open,  hooray !!  & collect a few more fleeces ( just a few!) for one special project . 

 I was  amused to see a small queue of guys outside  a barbers shop as well as being  somewhat dazed to find myself having to deal  with choices  of shops open in the High Street of Dingwall !       

The bubble of being in Torridon  for so many weeks was burst.   We are certainly seeing more folk here now too which  is good. Does this  inspire  or inhibit ?  I think it should inspire  us..... just as the flowers do . Coming home through the glen, the boggy bits were illumined with  soft silver bobs of bog cotton interspersed with the golden arrows of bog asphodel.  a definite Silver and Gold moment.   Inspired to be reminded of the wild beauty of my home landscape. Vistas & horizons not seen in all these months.  

 Yesterday's  adventure was  a definite  turning point in this season for me. Looking with fresh eyes not only on the land but a chance to reflect  bit on how my approach to my work has progressed or at least changed in four months.  

There is now a a sense of going forward. New paths  chosen.  I have unearthed fresh perspectives on  why  Felt as a product is so important to me . Supremely sustainable ! It ancientness appeals, with which Mrs Fingal has great affinity.  For myself, these bubble-bound weeks(  just  adding to  the  growing lingo  we now use), and technically challenging too, have been much encouraged by mentors,friends & strangers, now 'friends ' on Facebook,   So many of us are  carving  new ways to  respond to our innate need to create.  Despite so much uncertainty &  confusion   I will continue to  reach  out  , make felt and celebrate the tenacity of nature  & the  many wonders of wool.  Creativity  will continue  to astound.   

July in recent years, has been more of a holiday month  with regular trips to South Uist . But not this year. I shall miss meeting up with folk there,as well  revisiting  this  clump of confident  harebells or  watching the crofters bringing in their Hebridean sheep for the clipping. But  I have  my shed  full  of the aroma of  newly clipped fleece , one of the joys of summer ! Being able to  give  value to  these fleeces  when so many tonnes of it are being dumped  this year is a  small way  of  making a difference.         

Colours of life

Here we are in June and all those good intentions of writing a monthly blog waylaid by  a- choosing to do other stuff. And I know I am  not alone in this,the plague of procrastination  & being  a little less  single minded than we want to be !  My small basket of plant dyed fibres here somehow represents  a collection of thoughts I might have shared  - the blazing  Gorse flowers , as well as all the prickly bits, are a great source of dye & that would have been my April topic and for May , such a joyous month,so full of  spring energy. Is it also an analogy for choosing certain  strands of activity and not others?    Well I have poured my energy into a deep spring clean of the deepest corners of my shed. I always knew  I had more of certain  wiggly yarns , favourite golden coloured fibres,from Dahlia flowers.  And so much more .  Inspiration everywhere I look, infact  ! Well not so much procrastination after all.   I am as guilty , as the next person of setting unrealistic goals . But I am happy to say  I am very,very nearly at the finish line of the  BIG spring clean and feel energised by it .      Busy as a bee  in a meditative  way..   


mad march hares......  

The  title  of this month's 'blog'  is  simply  a part of  my culture , my childhood   and yet it is  also  quite a poignant  one here in the UK ,with this global   challenge we face  from  Covid-19 .    So please  stay warm, stay  safe and and stay sane !    And if you are  in very  tragic   circumstances   I send you strength to   ride the storm.  

 Thinking back to my childhood  I used to love days like this  , wild  , blustery March days , when the  rain  would beat  against the windows of my Grandmother's house  where I spent  many happy   times with  siblings and cousins  in the holidays.  Feeling safe  . And when the  rain stopped  , there was nothing would stop us  from   being outside . In nature.   Messing about in  burns and lochs; building  dams, building boats.  Hearing the  curlew.  Touching the earth.  Timeless  Days full of texture  and   colour.    If you  are feeling  isolated  right now , I hope you can nurture your  happy memories. When I feel  the  need for comfort  and warmth  and  the need to  nurture  tired  thoughts,  aching   bones  I reach for  a  Florrie.   The  therapeutic value of  natural wool   is  exceptional. Healing. It is also  naturally resilient to  rain and wild weather. Every fibre is coated in    lanolin ( waterproofing)  and every fibre , especially the really curly ones (  curly to  trap air = warmth )  extend when  the rain starts and an extra waterproof  membrane  then lies to the  upper surface of the sheep's back !!!!!!     What stunning engineering  is this . When it stops raining  the  the fibres  shrink back into  curly mode and  offer  greater  insulation   again.    Not madness . Just magic. #Lovenature   #Lovewool  !  

                                                                                                                              Stay safe. Stay warm.

frost and fibre  in February 

February is one of the winter months I look forward to , partly as  I  celebrate  my birthday and yes, it is still a celebration !  A time for a little reflection and  immense  appreciation  for the family  I have  and the family I was raised in . Now as  another hailstorm is  lashing  down between  Ciara   and Dennis 

 all I really want to do  is hibernate.  But I have set myself  a few challenges  in recent weeks one of which is  to  try to communicate  better and definitely more  frequently   through  the web. This includes locating  images to share  with you today   of florries in situ . These photos  kindly sent by customers over the years  and you will see that some  have to be shared with their pets ! 

I have far too many images  of  my work and all mostly very poorly catalogued , so  this task  can be  pretty daunting.... !!  Amongst other things   I am still looking for  a photo of a hugely  rugged  Blackface yowe  we encountered  last July  on South Uist  ...   alot of spring cleaning to be done.  haha!     But while winter is still very much here, ( and in Torridon  we  are  only lightly  affected) just in case  you feel the need to  snuggle in and stay   cosy .    A quick reminder  of how Florries enhance your home below  ...  .  Please take a few  moments to scroll over the  images below .    Tempted ?    I do have Florries for  sale   .  

Counting in twelves  .....          6 January  2020

My  capacity for  Blogs in the past   12 months seems to have been   seriously  challenged . Just odd snippets on  facebook.   It is  now Twelth Night and time to  let  the fire  roar with   pine needles and relieve our flying goose of it's  welcoming Holly  berries . 

Firstly a big  thank you to the many   folk who have   supported me  over the past year. Friends . Family. Fellow Fibre -Holics.   Organisers of events I have attended. All the appreciative customers  of  my work. The shops who continue to  stock my work.  

 You all make my life   better !

 Time for  reflection and planning too , before the light starts to creep back to our corner of the planet and our energy levels  rebuild  themselves.                                       Sun ! 

 Am I busier than ever  ? Am I  slowing down ?

  Am I taking more time and care  in the things that matter ? Am I going in the  'right ' direction ? 

 I have  never been one  for much  long term planning  , rather   life  has evolved  around  a  turn in a road that  offers  adventure  down new tracks ....  Trust.  Intuition. Revelation.

Despite sometimes being pretty slow at taking a new track ; I can ponder at these  junctions of  possibility for  sometimes   over long;  the last twelve months  saw  a  number  of exciting   ''new tracks'' for Mrs Fingal and her products  !    ''Grown on the land , felted by hand..'' has  taken on a whole new meaning too for  one special farm  near Inverness. Some of their own fleeces can now be found  upgraded to    Florries  in their new hand built Holiday Shepherd's Huts   from their own timber. As yet I  have to  see them in situ but that is something I look forward to doing  in the Spring .  Love  Local !

 I will keep you posted on how this innovative sustainable  venture  evolves. And post a link when I have it.

I am often asked if I run workshops . Teaching folk to  explore their creative energy through feltmaking   is   huge  privilege and something I really enjoy.   With confidence regained  from  running my first Florrie workshop  in the autumn 2019  for a wonderful collective  of fellow   fibre- holics ,    I have taken the plunge  to  run 2 separate workshops here in Torridon .        

This year seems  to have started at a more gentle speed  than last . I am not panicking about orders   on the 5th January ! I am glad of this.  

The biggest surprise for Mrs Fingal in 2019  was becoming  certified .      Florrie Felts is now a registered trademark. In the process I was  called   an ambassador for wool . Massive compliment !

I hope 2020 will evolve in ways that open up new tracks   for us  all and the creative energy  in all of us FINDS   happy expression.  The more we shout of the  necessity  of the creative arts to find expression   through every individual , the safer and kinder  our  planet  can be .

Maybe , unlike  last year , I am ready   for  this  new year. THIS NEW DECADE.  

autumn colours.........

Sometimes I am never ready for the New Year until March  , so  full of catching up with life am I and  here we are heading into the shorter days  of mid autumn ....  keeping up with nature   has  been  quite a thing  this year . All those    long dry summer days  seem    a long time ago !  So what on earth has Mrs Fingal been up  to   ... ???? 

Imbolc  - Vigil

This is the piece that was  mentioned  in my Spring blog  ....    and very happy to say   it  was sold in September   and is now in Alberta Canada.

A season full of good harvest ...  a florri-bundance indeed .  Discovering  new breeds of sheep,  and hugely appreciative  of all the suppliers  I now have  for my raw fleeces across the Highlands ....    how can I possibly   find time to  turn some of  these  quite beautiful fleeces into  Florries  .  With the   super hot spring  into summer  the wool clip was  a particularly  good one too.   Apart   from escaping to South Uist  again  in July for  5 nights  in the middle of  the season, and we  finally got to visit the Wool Mill on Grimsay~ Uist Wools ~   .... oooh ohoho   that   was    a real treat  .......     it has truly been a season  of  just about keeping up with demand  and keeping up with nature  . Bumper crop of Strawberries , apples  and even Tomatoes and still processing .A bit like a demented squirrel ... but we shall be glad  of the store  come January and February  . By then I will be in full swing for  the coming season of 2019.......

 But in the meantime   I have plenty to keep me busy  . Heading to Blair Castle in 2 weeks   ( no !  ..less Sheila , it is less   !!!)    . I have one or two new products  on the go for this winter  too . One I am  particularly excited about is  a  take on the Florrie  . A  'Shepherd's Star'    I hope  you like them    , just a bit quirky  and maybe  helpful to  someone  who cannot decide  which Florrie  they  really really want  !

Expecting to be  busy  now till the end of November ! Come and find me  at Blair Castle,  such a special part of the world for me  . 

My childhood  days filled with  freedom   guddling about in lochs & burns and  scrambling up hillsides   . Listening to the  curlew. 

 ALSO  heading back to Eden Court   16 - 17th November .       And then maybe there will be some  time to curl up with a good book on a  big FLORRIE

return to  the machair                          Wester Ross  - Feltscape 

.... summer retreat , colours                   local  commission piece

space , light   & curlews                         

    Shepherd's Star                                  Cherish the Curls Florrie  

   patchwork Florrie  using                     This one will shortly be                  different fleece types  ....                        auctioned   in aid of 

                                                                            MS Research                

......Splash into Spring !

So here we are in April  .....  and contrary to my  last musings of six months ago    I haven't been  hibernating at all !!  

 Inspired  by  ...    

 The  winter has been a long one  for  many of us  .   Here in Torridon  we have fared lightly  compared to much of the UK.

But it has  also been an exceptionally busy one !   With just a  couple of weeks to slow down   around Christmas  and the Solstice . ( I used to say  I was never ready for the new Year  until March  !! but this  year  was certainly not the case ).   Well Spring  is  swell and truly here now  and my energy levels  are  certainly boosted by it . For which  am very grateful.   The felting production has not slowed down at all   . Does this mean I am  stockpiling ready for the   summer season ahead  ?   Scarcely  . I have been   struggling to keep up with demand. Am I getting older ... slower ... ? ?    Probably.   But am I also more engaged with the   whole  process of  business ?  Possibly .   But  the  other   sea change   i think is  the rising popularity of Felt itself.   More  people  are looking for  sustainability, wanting it in their lives . And felt offers just this  , in so many ways .        

Some of you will have met me at some of the  Christmas Fairs around the Highlands . I always  enjoy meeting you !  Those Gotland fleeces  were  such  a huge  success !!!!   I hope I can find  more    for you .  In a recent   stock taking session ( it is that time of year )  the count of raw fleeces  stood at @  90 !!   from around 9 or 10  breeds of sheep . Handy for  insulating the loft too . These  include some  beautiful  Shetland fleeces  grown by very special friends in Sutherland.     Being able to  make  a small living   from   the very thing I am so passionate about  is a  huge  privilege .And getting out and about to  Craft Fairs  is also  alot of fun . I  probably  say that   too often   I know   but  it just is.  Please check the  Events~ Out & About pages  for  my 2018 dairy ..  some bigger commitments made, especially in the autumn.

So   the spring energy   also brings me colours  ...  Daffodils, Broom  and  the   biennial Woad leaves are ready for  harvesting again . I hope they will produce  a stronger colour  than  the small  sample seen here from a couple of years ago  , drying in the  lee of Liathach .  For  which I hope there will be  time soon to process.  Beautiful   golds and soft yellows and overdyed with  the woad  to give me  a small supply of  magical greens as well.   

I have had the  good fortune for  a few Feltscape commissions this winter   of which  this  image including  the rainbow  detail  was one . As you know  I am  a bit of a moon  watcher ! My latest   piece for my local Gallery here in Torridon   is based on  the  renewal of our earth around   IMBOLC , 1st February . St Brigid's Day, which is also  my birthday . All in  all much to celebrate ! This summer season Exhibition ' Night & Day '  opens in mid May.   And here we are now  , heading towards May .   I hope I can sustain my energy levels.  

1 .      Horns of Alligin  ~  Detail    . Feltscape winter Jan 2018    

2 .      Colour blending  on Hand Carders .

           Article  on  Carding Wool  for The Loch Torridon  Centre                   Gallery Newsletter  spring 2018  .

3.   Natural DYES from  Woad grown in my Torridon garden to               give  soft blues  &  overdyed on daffodil  to give acid green. 

4.   Lincoln Longwool Florries  -   part of   several  winter orders .  

Just  before the clocks go back and  Mrs Fingals's urge to hibernate  kicks in  and to explain I have not been  on holiday all summer....   here is  quiet moment to   reflect on the past few months  of  creativity.   

Summer time  in Torridon ..... reflections, requests and  running aboot like a mad thing !

With the route NC500  firmly  established ,  Mrs Fingal's cave in Torridon is now firmly on the map .... add  some  serendipity   and a celebratory note this weekend in October and  it seems life is good !  Alot of folk know  how passionate I am about wool & that I have been  making  felt   for awhile  .  The  images above  are a wee taste of how the past  few weeks have been  full on  ( no pun intended !).

Back in July I was  approached out of the blue,  by  a young Textile student , studying at Goldsmith's College in London. Could I make her  a yardage of felt for her  final Degree show ? 

 Well  , yes !     A YARDAGE that needed  to be wholly 3 metres in length . Not something I had ever endeavoured  before   . Also it needed to be  fine & supple enough to be   smocked . No  pressure then  ! The finished article  is stunning . Congratulations to Nastassia!  

 In the process I also felt  I had  crossed a threshold in my own Felt making  career. And feel honoured to be part of Nastassia's journey .

 Having  ' extra ' challenges thrown in like this  , in the midst of the   silly season of high summer, the regular Torridon markets, holiday let cottages ( I do 2 )  and keeping  my  craft shop outlets supplied  are all part of life in Torridon . Not a sleepy backwater at all in my view.

Serendipity in spoonfuls appeared  one  wet Sunday afternoon  when I was thinking  to head down to the shore for some  fresh air . Peering out of the window to see the state of the tide , I noticed the neighbour's  sheep & ponies  were the wrong side of  fence. Putting  them  back on the right side,  with the help of  passing walker we got into conversation about sheep breeds & WOOL!  This  young woman was another student  , this time from  Italy . She said she was having trouble  finding  really local  products , I don't know what  tourist  info she had been tapping into   but she kindly  came & bought 3 scarves ! Everyone happy ! 

So we managed  to  be tourists  ourselves  in July , revisiting  our piece  of Machair on South Uist .  Love the corncrakes , the light , the  people .   

Much reflection  this weekend as  I celebrate 22 years of marriage , so I thought I would  share   'wedding day ' .   

The 3rd piece of 3 pieces I made at the very first  felting workshop I went to,  back in  1995 . Still addicted to felt,    still very  much in  love  with  my husband ! Who's name is Les not Fingal     .

check out my diary page  , Out & About  for   fairs and   auctions  just around the corner ​....

full moon ~ dark sky   over Liathach   (feltscape @  12 inches square)      see blog entry 12 March 2017  

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fibre rocks ... art ancient and modern students work from Dornoch Fibre Fest   

works in progress .....   Dornoch students artwork



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meteoric  energy .....Dornoch students   artwork 

Mrs Fingal's Blog

An ongoing series of adventures in wool........2 January  2017   .... phew ! Mrs Fingal has arrived at a whole new chapter in her feltmaking journey & I look forward to sharing it with you. I hope I will be able to keep in touch  with entertaining & informative thoughts & tips.........................

10 FEBRUARY   2017

Snow moons and   super   stars  ~  ​    the  last few weeks   have   flown by  and even in January  when I think  I  may be entitled  to take the foot off the pedal a little there has been plenty to deal with , in my own wee orbit,  before  I   refocus  fully on the season ahead ( maybe all the more so  on account of the  lurgy confining   me  for  too many weeks..)  But outside  it has  been a  cracking few weeks  !   So , Sun shining on a lazy Sunday afternoon  saw me   spring cleaning  the  shed ,a few mice disturbed no doubt  but   the compost  bins  topped up  again  with  plenty  scruffy dag ends ! It really is the little things in life   that  give me a buzz......all that recycling of goodness back into the earth, our long suffering  earth , about to be  illuminated  by  a ​ snow moon AND a comet !  

Taking  stock of life is definitely a January sort of thing , and for me in a  Mrs Fingal's  birthday  sort of a way  along with Imbolc too  there is always  cause  for  celebration .  Before I knuckle down into  a steadier routine  , last  weekend was a  whirlwind of   great re-energising  in Warwick . With  friends & family  and   super star  music courtesy of Barnabus  , a prog rock band my husband  Les,  has been  part of, as a lyricist  since  the early 70s   .  And yes  they  did  share the stage  with some  well known  superstars too  ,Back in the day ...   & maybe  again !

Taking stock of fleeces  ...  I have  managed to  make a start  on   local  Torridon Shetland  &  Blackface fleeces  , needing attention  as soon as I can  finish carding  the giant superstar Lincoln Longwool fleece ~  all for  Florries .     All little by little. .. as I  am still trying to get  shoulder  muscles into full fitness.

But  I am also keen to make a start on some of the beautiful grey fleeces  I found  back in December .... When will there  ever be   enough hours in the day !!    With  so much choice around  me  , inspired by   the ever changing  colour  & light outside, so many vistas  tugging at my eye & wanting to  be worked into felt ... it is   quite often  just  simpler  to  go & do the dishes  than think about  colour, texture, skylines ? However  , today  I was reminded ,    I have  never  got round to  depicting   the mighty Liathach mountain  outside my  room  .. so  maybe  this is  a my start point  as the  snow moon  fills it's heaven.   


more  news  ....   places  are  now FULL   for  my Feltscape Masterclass

on 18th March   in Dornoch as part of

29 March 2017    ~     Fibre rocks   ... !!!

As March   is rapidly being overtaken  by  April and the  Easter start to another  season  has me  ratcheting up a gear .... a quick   note to self  on March  ... The highlight  was definitely  meeting so many  creative people , old friends and new at Dornoch Fibrefest  . I feel  very lucky to not only  be working with  fabulous fibres and producing felt for various purposes,   but also  have  opportunities to   share  my skills with folk at workshops. The  exchange of energy  is always so  affirming & encouraging !!!  My Dornoch felt picture workshop was full of wonderful energy from women around the highlands and even Alberta, Canada, Thank  you for being such  a great bunch of students . I never  quite know if everyone's expectations are met. Maybe because  I pack quite alot of action into the day, pushing  exploratory boundaries as much as I can for folk   and probably  do not leave enough  time at the close of the day  for    questions and such . . I hope they are  .  I was, as  usual,   bowled over  by the artistic  flow and interpretations from everyone.   Rock art to rock albums , different   perspectives of   familiar &   shared views  .Extraordinary eye for perspectives being realised from some who had  never  made felt before . Magic !!   The  biggest compliment  I received  was that the day had been utterly  & creatively consuming.  A meditation . Being able to share our creativity  is  so important   and maybe increasingly so .   The whole weekend  was a feast of  creativity , sharing stories , travels , colours and connecting with    our  respective  journeys  . Upbeat ... . Priceless.....  

The freedom to explore my  creativity through feltmaking  is  something  I  will always treasure.