Grown on the land ~
Felted by hand
Mrs Fingal's Adventure's ~ facts and musings of all things fibre and felt
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 . wwwdiscoverjohnmuir.com . 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.
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 .
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
......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.
some of the summer time produce and not a florrie in sight , THOUGH PLENTY HAVE BEEN MADE !
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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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 www.fibrefest.org.uk
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.