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The Workshop is almost ready......

Well, it has been a long haul but we are very nearly there.
On Friday, 2nd March we open our doors to the public once more so if you are over this way, stop and say hello.  Fortunately Inverness seems to
Beauly Firth - the view from Bunchrew this morning

have escaped the snow that is covering much of the country, so we should be fine for opening our doors.
For some reason, it seems to be a general rule that building and refurbishment work takes twice as long (and costs twice as much) as you plan for.  I think I should have taken out shares in B&Q before I started down this route.
The work seems to have gone in jumps - some big, some little.  Yesterday the particular thing of note was that we got our new signs up.   We hope they will encourage people to stop and come in to see what we do.
new roadside signs
Today we are making felt coverings for our display heads that we use to show our range of hats.  In the past we never had space to have more than three heads on display.  Now we have space to show all ten styles, plus the Harris Tweed headbands and the hooded scarves.
Covering the heads is quite time consuming, but the bare polystyrene is very ugly, marks easily and generally looks rather cheap.   What we did was needlefelt some icewool onto the polystyrene to give a base to which the merino
needlefelting the base layer
wool fibres would easily felt, then it was a question of layering on small tufts of fibres, wetting with soapy warm water and rubbing.... and rubbing... and rubbing some more.  Once sufficient felting had occurred we wrapped the heads in protective cloths and put them in the washing machine to finish them off.   By the time we open our doors on Friday morning, the heads will have dried.
covered in merino wool fibres and rubbed with soapy water

wrapping heads in organza to protect while washing

heads fully felted and drying

All that remains to be done is to vacuum the carpet, do a final bit of dusting, put away all the tools, screws, picture hooks etc and generally tidy up.
Phew.... so glad its done.  Now we can get back to real work.


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I am Ruth Black - a textile artist working along with my daughter and granddaughter in the Highlands of Scotland. 

"The Workshop"  is an old wooden building in the village of Inchmore, just 6 miles from Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland and dating from the mid 19th Century.  Originally it served as a joinery workshop but now it is home to a three-generation family team working with a variety of textile processes, fibres, fabrics, yarns and threads.

When we first took up occupancy of The Workshop in 2011 the main focus was to carry on our family business, Anna Macneil.

Anna Macneil (aka Barbara Morrison, 1929 - 2017) started making hats using Harris Tweed from her home on the Isle of Lewis when she moved there in the 1980s.   She was joined in this venture by me, her daughter, in the 1990s but she continued making hats until a combination of poor health and failing eyesight made it no longer possible. However, the business is still carried on by me with help from her…