Traditional crafts holiday in Scotland

“Week-long foraging, shearing, dyeing and felting small group course (max 6) in the Scottish Highlands - learn the traditional process from fleece to felt.”

Highlights

Learning about hand shearing sheep | foraging for plants for dying wool | dyeing wool using natural plant dyes | felting workshop | exploring Glen Affric | Loch Affric | ancient Caledonian woodland |

Description of Traditional crafts holiday in Scotland

Discover the old ways and tried and tested techniques associated with life in the Scottish Highlands as you sign up for a traditional felting and craft course. Scotland has long been revered for its inspirational landscapes and resilient flora and fauna which is why this week-long craft course draws inspiration from the very best of both.

Find out what it takes to get a sheep’s wool into a workable product as you meet Hilda, and her friendly flock, and learn more about the traditional shearing, dyeing and felting methods that have served Hilda and Highland folk for generations.

As Hilda’s flock are extremely tame and used to human contact the click clack of the hand shears makes for a thoroughly enjoyable glimpse at the first stage of felt making which is why this craft course Scotland is about as authentic as you’re going to get.

Over the course of the week you’ll also discover how to forage for organic dyes which can turn a fleece into a colourful thing of beauty inspired by the surrounding countryside. Searching for nettles, gorse and ragwort isn’t hard and often a foraging expedition will be as much about enjoying the scenery and Highland air as it will be about collecting ingredients for traditional dye.

Dyes are concocted outside over a wood-fuelled fire with a combination of locally-sourced plants and ancient imports, such as madder and indigo, helping to develop an artist’s palette of colour from where to begin to colour a fleece.

Craft courses in Scotland, such as this, offer a unique perspective of life in the Highlands and offer holiday makers a chance to enjoy a simpler way of life whilst also learning and creating as part of the overall process of developing fleece to naturally coloured felt.

Your week away on a Scotland craft course lets you uncover the lifestyles associated with marginal farming in the Highlands where ancient crofting techniques have been passed down through generations and farmers have to rely on organic resources to help continue a sustainable way of life.

Everything is used from fleece to felt and craft courses offer insight into not only the traditional crafts used by crofters but also how to live and work responsibly and sustainably in an era of materialism and waste.

Eight day craft courses, Scotland, include:

Traditional sheep shearing techniques
How to search for and pick plants for dye
How to organically dye wool for felt
Traditional methods of carding and felting

Weekend craft courses, Scotland, include:

How to make organic felt
Traditional methods of natural dye making
The art of dyeing, felting and batik & natural dyes
Weekend felt making is suitable for all, including children. Our week-long craft course can also be tailored for families – please get in touch for more details of our family activity holiday in Scotland.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Check dates

2018: 20 May, 18 Aug
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Traditional crafts holiday in Scotland

Environment

Everything we do is aimed at making a positive impact on the people who stay with us and on the people, places and communities that we introduce them to.

Our Fleece to Felt week has drawn inspiration from the crofting community both past and present in and around Ross-shire and Inverness-shire. Crofters are a true example of sustainability. Surviving on marginal land, making a living from what surrounds them.

We believe passionately in protecting our local environment. We source local produce to cut down on food miles, either growing or sourcing our vegetables locally, our fish and seafood generally comes straight out of the Minch and our organic meat from the farmland around us. We carbon offset your journeys when you are with us and encourage you to do the same with your journeys up to us. The c-change trust is an ethical British carbon offsetting charity, which plants trees in Britain.

We re-use and recycle all that we can, from paper in the office to fishing rope washed up on the beach. We compost all our food waste and recycle cardboard, aluminum and plastics. We try and minimize our energy use and encourage our guests to do the same. The Loch side cottages are fitted with under floor heating and are well insulated, reducing the amount of energy needed to heat them. The log fires in the cottages use wood from the estate. We use green, non chemical cleaning products and make sure we put no harmful chemicals into the water system. We use a tipi as an extra space, due to its low impact as we can remove it leaving no trace. We start as many of our walks as possible from the farm cutting down on emissions caused by the week.

We are very aware of the natural unspoilt beauty of the area and endeavour to help keep it that way. On visits to the beach we carry a few bags so we can do a stint beach cleaning before leaving. We encourage clients to adopt the responsible tourist’s mantra of; “leave only foot prints, take only photographs”

Community

As well as this Fleece to Felt trip, we are also running school felting workshops and community projects aimed at getting children and their families interested in traditional crafts and the idea of sustainability. Most of the fleeces in the North Highlands are used for very little. We want people to understand how wasteful this is, where in fact the fleece could be used in many craft practices and the lower grade fleece can be used as housing insulation.

We are committed to using local services wherever possible, during the Fleece to Felt week we use the Lochside Cottages which are owned by, Lucy a local farmer. Virtually all the food we serve is locally produced and the experts involved live in the area.

We generate employment and revenue for local people and businesses including crofters, farmers, market stall holders, fishermen, artists, craftsmen, cafes, restaurants and shops.

Ross-shire is a sparsely populated area dominated by massive tract of mountainous wilderness. Our business helps to support and expand a regional network of like-minded individuals. We help to encourage cohesion and skill-sharing amongst craft practitioners and our other specialists.

We hope that many of our guests will return to the area in the future.

8 Reviews of Traditional crafts holiday in Scotland

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Reviewed on 16 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


That's really hard to decide. Rosie and her family are remarkable people. Rosie worked tirelessly to make it the perfect vacation, from preparing the fleece, collecting the plants used in the dying, the dying itself, and of course, carding and spinning the wool. She and Alex made delicious, healthy meals and made sure the experience went smoothly. The other guests were wonderful and we were all quite close by the end of the week. The housing was excellent.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do come, especially if you like animals and warm, creative people. It's not for the fastidious, because sheep and dye stuffs aren't particularly clean, at least to start. Bring insect repellant and itch cream.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely. This was a strictly local endeavour. Everything, including the food, was organic and local as much as possible, and things that could not be used, such as waste fleece, were composted or recycled. Members of the community also participated in the lessons, including a local singer and a spinner.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


The best. We learned so much and the memories we'll take away are priceless.

Reviewed on 30 May 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Going through the whole process of watching the sheep being sheared, working with the fleece, gathering plants to dye with, creating amazing colours and then using them to create my felted wall hanging.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Its very relaxing and informal. Bring old, comfortable clothes that you won't mind getting a bit of dye on.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, Rosie ans Alex are brilliant at bringing in local people to share their expertise. They are extremely environmentally conscious, nothing goes to waste.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This holiday was amazing. Rosie and Alex are so very welcoming, and willing to share their knowledge. I learned so much about the history and culture of the Highlands while I was there. They provide a wonderful balance of learning and working at a relaxing pace. For example, we saw a shearing demo, then learned a little about the natural dyes, then went out to collect the plants. In the
evenings we learned how to needle felt, spin yarn, and some of the songs women used to sing while working. it was a full circle of fleece to felt that was enriched by hearing about the old crofting way of life. Food was incredible and lodging so comfortable. And I get to take home a beautiful wall hanging, needle felted creations, and a beautiful Eco-printed scarf, all of which I produced, during
my stay. The holiday was fabulous.

Reviewed on 10 Aug 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The experience was incredible, better than we imagined. It was magical to work with all the natural materials in such a beautiful setting. Rosie was amazing, warm and encouraging. There were lots of thoughtful touches and we are thrilled with the handmade items we brought home.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Bring layers! The weather can change on a dime. We loved staying in the static caravan at the Cannich caravan park at the bottom of the hill--very affordable, clean, and with a great cafe.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Absolutely!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Ten out of ten.

Reviewed on 25 Aug 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I recently went on a road trip through Scotland with my Mum, we were in awe of the stunning scenery managing to visit lots of different places, going on walks up mountains, by lakes and through woodlands. On our last weekend we booked on to the Wild Rose Escapes' natural dyeing course. We're both creative and were keen to learn more about fabrics and dyes so felt this would be something we would both like. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Rosie, her family and the other fellow dyers who joined us. Foraging for local plants and trying out imported dyes we used open fires to make a large range of gorgeous colours.

I also enjoyed meeting the various animals Rosie and her family look after and the amazing homemade lunch and cakes made for us by Alex.


2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in learning something different, who also likes being outdoors and breathing in the fresh air. They also run felt-making, prehistoric cooking and relaxation retreats so I would be keen to try out those in the future. The prehistoric cooking particularly interests me.

This isn't for those who like their creature comforts, but for two days I'm sure most people could handle the compost toilet.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, Rosie and her family lead a very sustainable life, from their composting toilet to using the natural mountain water and open fires from local wood, so I felt conscious that my environmental impact was reduced, even if only for the two days I was taking part on the course.
Rosie had also recommended for us to have dinner on Saturday night at a pop up restaurant in the local cafe, all of us on the course decided to go. The food was wonderfully prepared by local people and the evening was a lovely occasion.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I loved it, it was something different from your beach or resort holiday but I personally love venturing in to nature and the creative element meant I also left with something which I can now use back home and have as a memory of my time there with my Mum.

Reviewed on 22 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The excitement of watching the different colours emerging as we used natural dyes and the anticipation of what could be created using them. I have never felt so invigorated, and relaxed?!!!, at the same time. A real feel good break, in every sense.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Leave plenty of space in your luggage to bring home a fleece or two.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


This holiday was in harmony with conservation and totally respectful of the environment. Local people were involved with us on lots of levels throughout the week, our trips gave us a greater insight into the area, and supported local businesses. All our food was also provided by local suppliers.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a wonderful break, organised to enjoy many different experiences, at a leisurely pace, for all those involved. I couldn’t believe how much I managed to achieve each day whilst still feeling totally chilled and unrushed. This was my first foray into felting, but I came home with much more knowledge than I had anticipated, many wonderful memories, and big plans for further felting adventures.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a wonderful break, organised to enjoy many different experiences, at a leisurely pace, for all those involved. I could'nt believe how much I managed to achieve each day whilst still feeling totally chilled and unrushed. This was my first forray into felting, but I came home with much more knowledge than I had anticipated, many wonderful memories, and big plans for further felting adventures.

Reviewed on 03 Feb 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


I loved the whole process of gathering natural materials (lichen, fungus, nettles, birch bark, etc) to dye the wool, the dyeing itself and the amazing array of colours we created with single and secondary dyes. The felt-making itself was fascinating and great fun - Rosie creates the perfect balance - encouraging personal experimentation and providing expert support. I was delighted with the bag I made and couldn't quite believe I'd made it!! We were able to work outside a lot of the time - either with the fantastic views of the valley from the wood or next to the river by the cottage we were staying in. I loved being able to go walking from the cottage each morning/ evening (with several different routes available) and saw some fantastic wildlife, including huge boletus fungi (in early July) and a Pine marten. The food is definitely worth a mention, too - delicious and plentiful home cooked fare with great variety and they coped really well with my special dietary requirements.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Take walking gear and take advantage of the superb location. Take the time to explore Inverness for a couple of hours - there's a great walk along the riverside south - you can cross the river onto some small islands and come back along the opposite bank.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes - we visited local farms and kept driving to a minimum.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent - well worth it. Memorable - and wonderful to come away with a new skill.

Reviewed on 21 Jul 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The small field trips outside of Ullapool to meet other people like Hilda, June and Jeff. It left a big impression on me about the small communities in Scotland and how they work together to make everything work.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Do not fly into London! Just fly into Edinburgh and take the train to Inverness. Other than that the holiday is fantastic!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


It definitely benefited the local people because all we did was utilized local resources, including non-endangered wild plants for our natural dyes. We used wools from local shepherds and traditional Scottish sheep, we ate foods that were grown and raised in the local gardens and farms, and killed at the local butcher and fish mongers, and we only used one vehicle to travel great distances if that was required.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I felt relaxed during my holiday but I also learned a lot that I could bring back and use during my college studies for sculpture and textiles. It was an excellent combination without the fuss of dye labs and overly processed and wools.

Reviewed on 04 Aug 2010 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


So many memorable components to this trip it's hard to just pinpoint one but I will have lasting memories of Hilda (with her pet ram, Alexander the Great) as well as the breathtaking landscape and scrumptious food. Learning to felt was more enjoyable than I had even anticipated and creating natural dyes and foraging for natural plants was fascinating.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?




3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes, definitely!

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I loved the whole week and all the activities involved. I had very little expectation or knowledge about fleece or felting but learnt an enormous amount and came away loving the felt piece I created. The highlands are conducive to creativity!

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