Working on Westray

I spent last weekend in Westray, one of the other Orkney islands. I have a friend who lives there, and she is in charge of setting up courses etc on the island. I was there to run days on needle felting and spinning. Elly came with me. It was the first time she had flown in an Islander, the planes that serve the Outer Isles.

01 plane

Flying through a rainbow!
Flying through a rainbow!

We stayed in the main village, Pierwall.  Elly took the camera out for a wander while I sorted myself out!

Pierowall Hotel
Pierowall Hotel
Pierowall shoreline
Pierowall shoreline

All day Friday was needle felting at the school, with S1 and 2 (about 12 – 14 yrs). There were 11 of them, 5 boys and 6 girls, and they really worked hard.

05 school feltingAs always we started with a flat piece to learn the basic techniques, then moved on to shaped pieces. With Mother’s Day approaching I suggested they might like to make a brooch for their mum. Many took up my idea of a daffodil or a sheep, but others had their own ideas. After lunch we went on to 3D work. By request it was selkies (seals) again! We all made the pipe-cleaner frame together then worked on the padding and felting at our own pace. We used North Ronaldsay fibre for this, which felts so quickly – much faster than merino!! There were some delightful Finished Objects!

06 Westray School needle feltingThe next day was spinning, with adults. Everyone was at a different stage, but I think everyone learnt something from the day. Some were new spinners, others enjoyed trying new fibres. Several spun silk for the first time, and several took their first steps along the ‘art yarn’ route.

08 spinners 207 spinners 109 spinners 3We talked about blending fibre, on both carder and a drum carder, and about preparing fibre for spinning in general. Oh – and we had a gorgeous lunch!

On Sunday evening it was the adults’ turn to try needle felting. People concentrated very hard, and produced some lovely work in just 3 hours.

10 adults felting 111 adults felting 212 adults felting 313 adults felting 414 adults felting 515 Sunday feltingAs it was now 1st March, I had to take a pic of a few daffs we saw….!

16 daffodilsEarlier on the Sunday, Elly and I went to Notland Castle. Built by Gilbert Balfour around 1570, and never finished, this is an impressive ruin standing on rising ground towards the north of the island.

17 Notland Castle19 castle gateway18 drawing of castleThe castle kitchens.  There was a floor half way up and storage space above.

The castle kitchens. There was a floor half way up and storage space above.

The castle ghost - or possibly Elly looking down.
The castle ghost – or possibly Elly looking down.
The one carved detail in the whole building - at the head of main staircase.
The one carved detail in the whole building – at the head of main staircase.

5 thoughts on “Working on Westray

  1. Love all the pics. I’m working on a spinning project. I have some neon magenta Romney wool, and I’m mixing in some Bfl/silk in some subtle red, rose and wine on my drum carder to tone it down a bit. It will be a three ply sweater yarn.

  2. Lots of fiber artists among those children!

    It is amazing to me that as far north as Westray is, the daffodils have started to bloom (they are blooming in Savannah, GA, USA, but it is much further south). That is testimony to the power of the Gulf Stream!

  3. Love the seals – they look a lot cleaner than ours! 🙂
    Seriously though, how absolutely wonderful to be running that sort of craft class in a school. It wouldn’t happen here.
    And we will be planting our new daffodil bulbs in April here Downunder.

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