Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Sunday

Our lovely family Christmas got even more wonderful with a significant fall of snow last evening, and a freezing, crystal morning.

We're open as usual, but the Gallery has been dressed for Christmas:

a lovely Nordman tree - from up the hill at Legananny

the fireplace

we've moved the big table into the window
and the settee in front of the fire - very cosy for all!
The morning walk round the garden was a very sparkly affair!

charging around!

singing jingle bells

Ernie's first snow....

ice crystals on the cupboard

and from the puddles

across the lawn

and cuddles for Charlie

what a stunning day,
A quick trip to the local shop for milk and things was a great excuse for a walk to the Lighthouse Road viewpoint, about a mile away.

Slieve Garron - with famine fields picked out by the snow

looking South East to County Armagh

Slieve Gullion

a beautiful Mournes Panorama

 Back home - we baked some bread:

using antique 'Hovis' tins donated by Caroline

even turkey sandwiches taste great in this bread!

Monday, December 01, 2014

The Felting Studio - Part 3: hole in the wall gang

Once the floor was levelled, boulders re-homed and paving slabs laid, we could see what a great space this was to be.

But before we could tidy up the walls and add services, we had to bite the bullet and knock through to the new Turnip House.

Turnip House. Our business name for over 27 years now. An odd choice you might think! 

Well, we started in a turnip house. The first building we used as a knitting room had been where the root crops were stored on the farm. These, often turnips, were used to give food to sheep and cattle in the lean winter months when grass growth was poor - and before the advent of silage.

more about this here:

Turnips - places, artifacts, and serendipity.

You could say the name grew on us. Suitably rustic, crafty, and weird, it was just us and has served so well!

When we moved up to our new project in 2010, little did we know that when clearing a heap of stones outside what would become the new workshop we found this:

Turnip Mangle

A turnip cutter or turnip mangle.

Well, it follows that if there was a turnip cutter, there must have been a turnip house. 

So we are still at home!

To Work,

The hole goes here:

in the right hand corner
 You can see from the degraded plaster that there are some big stones here - these are solid Ballymagreehan granite 'quoins'

beautiful stones - but massive

breakthrough- the view from the other side

small beginnings

a hands breadth

that's about the size we need
 It is a truism that if you ever want to make a hole in a stone wall, you always end up with a much bigger one than you wish for.

hang on though ... look at the size of that

Demolition needs to be very carefully done. For this big fellow we laid down two layers of pallets, stood well back - and pushed. Thankfully it worked and we didn't break the new floor, or demolish more of the wall!

almost there

still need to move one more big one

this sticks out just a little too far (you can also see the structure of the floor in the Turnip House)

not a lot holding that up - time to rebuild quick!

the hole at it's biggest viewed from the top

Ernie inspects

Once demolition was safely completed we put timber frames up and filled in the holes we didn't want.

Old scaffolding boards make excellent headers

doorway complete

removing the last stone - only just!

Once the main structure was there  (- what a relief) we brought the painters in:

a key member of the team, flown in specially!
nice & bright
In the next and final post about this you'll see that we have finally finished the fit out, and are enjoying this fabulous space.

the view on one side, up to Slievenaboley

and opposite, down into the garden

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Felting Studio part 2 - stones and more stones!

We live in a post-glacial landscape. 
from the Windy gap to the Mournes
A significant part of the charm of the Mournes Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is the pattern of stone walls (or ditches as we call them) built, over the centuries, to demark field and lane.

The stones were not quarried, but dug from the earth, when the land was cleared of glacial debris for cultivation.

It's amazing how these stones are lifted and placed. many are huge and must weigh a great deal.

Our admiration grows ever greater as we encounter our own relatively small crops of stones buried in the ground!

Once the washroom and store had been 'opened out' and the new part of the roof fitted, it was time to start on clearing the inside

a test dig seemed to show thin concrete over soil - not bad!

nothing that a little hard work won't fix
there was quite a lot of it though

and many layers of activity
 It felt quite archaeological at times!

Under the thin (ish) concrete floor, was mud - and stones - big stones - and water!

Whether this was a fallen wall, and old drain, or stones in situ is hard to tell. There are some 'finds' a clay pipe, some crockery, no gold so far...

stones and mud


these are the smallest ones, from just half the area!

a sample of the harvest

some of the bigger ones
 After we removed all the stones, and levelled the ground it was time to make good - two layers of thick damp proof membrane, and concrete paving slabs - this floor is to be industrial.

tiny wash room!

so much bigger looking now

not the smoothest floor but....

the washroom end

looking up towards the Turnip House
We were most pleased with this! But to make sense of this space, we really needed to connect it with the Turnip House, which we renovated first back in 2011.

They are joined, so we thought it would be possible to 'knock through' to it. there is a level change, but only 2 or 3 steps.

The Turnip House - the felt studio is to the left

The Turnip House is a beautifully constructed stone building - the smallest, and yet the finest - on site.

The next post will show how we got on knocking a hole in the adjoining wall. 

You guessed it: more stones!