Cat Coulson

Artwork & Inspirations.


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Bluebells at Carstramon Wood

bluebell panorama

How to describe the colour of bluebells? Covering the woodland floor they form an elusive hue, complex and impossible to replicate on film; emitting a cool ultramarine glow under shade, yet at the same time a warm pink-lilac haze in the shafts of light falling between the trees. The bells themselves range from electric blue to vivid periwinkle with thin stripes of cobalt running along soft bleached-mauve petals; in the dappled sunlight they create a spectacular display, each making its contribution to the pointillistic vision of blueness. They light the woodland floor with intense vibrancy, yet somehow this makes a gentle atmosphere, soothing, romantic, nostalgic. Continue reading

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Wildlife in the walls

I have been creating a small flower bed next to the bothy the last couple of weeks, taking advantage of the warm weather. It has been dug out between a set of low terraced platforms, raised by dry sone walls near to where the water wheel was situated.  I thought it would be nice to introduce a few small plants into the cracks and holes between the boulders of the stone wall, and as i went to plant one, came upon two small lizards sunbathing in the gap.

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Heirloom Daffodils

Over the last few weeks the garden has begun to change; as temperatures have risen, the snowdrops have finished, and the daffodils are making their display. There are a few different types around the garden that I was told were old varieties, so i did some research to see what i could discover. They certainly have a lot more leaf and fewer flowers than the swathes of yellow seen in modern plantings, and open in stages rather than all at once which seems more natural in a woodland setting. The daffodils in the orchard are well established, i think they may be Narcissus incomparabilis – the single form of an old variety pre 1600 known as ‘butter and eggs’. They are very attractive and delicate despite their full size, with smaller cups rather than long trumpets. They have perfectly formed pale primrose-yellow petals and the cups differ in colour, some all yellow, and the majority becoming orange towards the tips in varying degrees. Continue reading


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Signs of Spring

The larches are in flower, something i have never seen before; bright pink cones emerging upright from soft green pine needle tufts. These are the female flowers, sometimes known as larch-roses and they will develop into pine cones. The male flowers carrying the pollen are found on the same branch. The fresh new growth looks lovely after the winter; european larch (larix decidua) turns gold-amber in the autumn before loosing its needles. Its light shade provides habitat for red squirrels and birds such as sparrowhawks and goshawks; crossbills, siskins and tree creepers; as well as many moth species. Continue reading


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Gull Loch & Sea Views

The word ‘strand’ means small stream, in the Dictionary of the Scots Language I like the description ‘A strand is a wee burn, or a streimlet fra rain’ (1838 A. Crawfurd).

Strandside sits next to a stream that runs through the garden, travelling downhill in a series of small waterfalls and sinks, and issuing back above ground further downstream. Apparently there used to be a water wheel next to the bothy where it runs fastest and on some of the old maps there looks to be a channel linking it to the well. The strand is fed from a loch which sits at the top of the hill in the forest behind the house. Continue reading


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Wildlife at the Window

I’ve begun to get a few shots of the resident wildlife (albeit marred by window reflections) to share. I can’t believe how confident these creatures are, they don’t seem to mind seeing or hearing me through the window. There are usually robins around, on the wall or hedge, and one in particular that stands in the porch by the front door and calls until i put food out for it. Wrens and dunnocks spend their time in the tangled clematis which drapes over the porch and great tits are regular visitors, very smart with perfect plumage. Tiny blue tits and exquisite coal tits are constantly flitting to the feeder and chaffinches briefly fly out of the hedges to pick food from the wall. Continue reading


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Notes from Strandside

To all my friends in Lincolnshire, i want you to know that you have meant a lot to me. In many ways, a great deal. Thank you…

My search for a home has taken me through various parts of the UK, some with beautiful countryside, others wild and remote. I have been looking to move to a place that can connect me to the land, that has echoes of a more simple, unmodernised world and still remembers the history that created it. I want to experience living in an area where nature is still more prevalent than people, to be absorbed by and dwell on (and in) an environment that has a balance that inspires artistic expression. Here, by the south-west coast of Scotland, i believe i have found such a place, a house surrounded by a unique ecosystem, within land that is managed to promote wildlife. It sits within an area of scenic beauty, the coastal village is managed by the National Trust, and the RSPB have a number of reserves along the shore and islands nearby. Continue reading


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Valentine’s and Green Hearts

The Climate Coalition have a campaign for Valentine’s Day 2016 where you can get involved, making, photographing or wearing green hearts to show commitment to the environment and the challenges it faces – there is a film to watch at fortheloveof.org.uk and you can share your projects on social media using #showthelove

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Here is my wet-felted heart bowl with recycled sari yarn and green silks/merino on the inside. Happy Valentine’s Day x


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Experiments with Eco Printing

Over the Easter break, fellow felt maker Linda Irving came to stay, and we had a couple of eco-dyeing experiments! The first lot of petals and moss were not that successful, but we found good results with rose leaves, ferns and red onion skins. The process was fairly straightforward – laying the items onto prefelt soaked in vinegar and rolling it up carefully, then wrapping as tightly as possible in yarn. It was then simmered in a vinegar water solution for about 4 hrs. The difficulty was waiting as long as possible to unwrap it and look! We managed almost 2 days on the second batch… The prints were very subtle but beautiful, it has definitely inspired me to do lots more research into the process and more experimenting through the year!

 


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Washing Fleece

Phew – I have finished washing all the fleece from Amanda at Pedwardine Gotlands – tried a few different methods, but here is what i found most successful…

Tip 1 -DO NOT pour water with lanolin down the sinks – it may block them as it sets solid. Find a suitable place outside to tip dirty water.

Tip 2 – The more buckets you have to hand, the easier this is!

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1-Fill 2 buckets with warm water – (no soap yet) – submerge the fleece into one and gently swish to remove dirt. Carefully squeeze most of the dirty water from the fleece or put into a colander and press down to remove excess water.

2-Repeat in the other bucket – this process of removing the dirt first makes it easier to see the lanolin dissolving in the next stages and reduces the temptation to move the fleece around more once the soap is in – and hence lowers the risk of felting.

3-Fill a bucket with warm water and ecover laundry liquid (or other gentle/green product) and submerge fleece – do not stir or touch as it could felt together at this stage. Cover with a makeshift lid to keep warm. This is when the lanolin will start to dissolve.  Leave sitting for half an hour, handle as little as possible when removing – best to lift out in one go into a colander and press down once. As the lanolin dissolves you may notice a yellow tinge to the water and an oily watermark around the bucket – it is important not to throw this water into the sink, lanolin will solidify as it cools. Tip water outside somewhere appropriate.

4-Repeat with slightly hotter water – some wools can take very hot water, but i was recommended to only use warm for gotland fleece.

5-Rinse – fill bucket with clean warm water – no suds. Submerge fleece, swish gently to remove suds and strain.

6-Continue rinsing! Fill your remaining buckets with clean warm/tepid water, take smaller sections of fleece and swish out any remaining lanolin and suds – move it along the buckets and as the soap dilutes you can be more firm with the fibre. Squeeze water out and move to next bucket until water is clear. repeat with the other sections of fleece. Tip water away outside.

7- Take large handfuls of fleece and run tepid water from the tap over it while turning it in a circular movement in your hands. Squeeze a couple of times until you are satisfied it is well rinsed. Repeat with other sections.

8- Lay the fleece onto a towel and gently squeeze excess water out.

9-Spread on a dry towel or rack preferably outside in sun/air to dry or if raining outside finish over towels on top of the radiator!

10-Make sure the fleece is totally dry before storing, but it should now keep well for future use. The locks can be pulled apart at this stage if desired.

Remember -DO NOT pour water with lanolin down the sinks – it may block them as it sets solid. Find a suitable place outside to tip dirty water.

I am no expert at fleece washing! This is the best method out of the ones i tried – using gotland, gotland x shetland and gotland x teeswater fleeces. It is worth asking advice from your supplier. Try at your own risk 🙂 ! Happy washing!


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Fleece Foraging – Gotland Sheep

I went to visit Amanda and Barry’s gorgeous flock of pedigree British Gotland sheep today at Pedwardine Gotlands – they were so friendly and loving. They have an idyllic life, grazing on medieval pasture in the countryside hamlet of Burton Pedwardine and showered with love and affection. Such wonderful creatures who adore Amanda – she knows each one by name – it was so sweet to see them close their eyes as they enjoy being stroked!

The sheep had just been sheared so i had the pick of spring fleeces to choose from – the colours are stunning – the fabulous variety of greys are pure Gotland with the lovely brown tinged tips. The white/cream shades are Gotland Teeswater cross and the black shades are Gotland X Shetland. Amanda knows which fleece belongs to which sheep, so it is even possible to choose which sheep you love the fleece of and reserve it!  I picked a good selection of colours and textures to experiment with -very exciting 🙂 – now for the washing

Amanda’s website has some good info on Gotlands, or have a look at her Facebook page Pedwardine Gotlands