Welcome to the woollen line

‘A woollen line’  is an artist idea originated by Pip Woolf

We are researching the potential to use low grade wool as a  conservation textile to repair an area of damaged peat bog in the Black Mountains of mid Wales. The first line was laid with help of over 350 volunteers on 27th March 2010.

In September 2010, we crossed the line. Laying about 80 wool ‘sausages’, nets stuffed with greasy wool, carried by volunteers including 10 Gurkha soldiers.

Wool installed in 2010 is still there! considering the weather this is a miracle as I have been up there when the peat is so dry that there have been mini tornadoes. Algae and mosses have begun to establish themselves in the sheltered hollows of the felted wool. Dry weather early in 2011 has made this difficult to see and last year’s felt looks a little like parchment. However the wool sausages are clearly working and you can see the channels back filling as the water is slowed by the wool.

So the plan is to double effort each year for next 5 years.

So far in 2011, we have made over 200 wool sausages and with the help of grants  I have bought 600 metres of  needle felted wool ( much less labour intensive to make). We have now transported all of this, approximately 1000 kilos to the mountain top with the aid of horses, Gurkhas and  other stalwart volunteers.  All the sausages are now installed as is one more 300metre line of felt. Photos will soon follow courtesy of the nearby Black Mountain gliders.

All this has been possible only because of the tremendous good will of so many people and animals

Have a look at the details below!

Please get in touch if you would like to be involved. You can use the blog, every comment will be forwarded to me via the WordPress online administration, or alternatively you can email to gilpip@googlemail.com but please put Woollen line in the subject header.


About caerhendre

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8 Responses to Welcome to the woollen line

  1. Alison says:

    The banner image of the wool sausage looks great! It’s inspired us to crack on and make some more nets….

    Perhaps you could post on here the dates when you might be visiting the mountain next. We’d be quite interested to come along and see how things are developing up there. Maybe others too?

    • caerhendre says:

      Dates are flexible. I usually go up twice a month and the next visit is due next week. Weather permitting it will be either Wednesday 18th or Friday 20th August. Please feel free to join me. If you do decide to come you will need to contact me for a decision on where we will walk from as I am gradually exploring new routes.

  2. Sally Lomax says:

    Overwhelmed by the enormity of this project – the idea to start with is so startling and magnificent. Wonderful to have pictures of the wool in place and stitched in as well. Such an enormous undertaking, I’m full of admiration that you have manged to get so many people involved and to complete such a strange and unusual task. Fascinated to see how well it works and will certainly be keeping an eye on Woollen Line.

  3. Luke Cooper says:

    It is hard to comprehend the enormity of the task and I am, as always, in awe of your adventurous undertakings! I only wish I could be there to participate. I will talk to the children in my class about the project and perhaps it could inspire us in some way to do a similar project on a smaller scale.

  4. Rachel Gladstone says:

    Feel very lucky indeed to have been helping out on Saturday (15th May 2011). Thank you for everything. Having made the felt secure in that wind, I guess its at least unlikely to blow away. Amazing company. Thee children (Emily loved it) and dog especially, but everybody there included. Thank you for the wonderful cakes too. I’ve been wondering some things, maybe I could put a couple of them here, maybe find out more from you another time. I looked quickly around on the internet for other methods of stabilising peat bogs. There seem to be a couple including a massive scale one in the Kinder Scout area http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/lookingafter/climate-change/moor-restoration-in-peak-district.htm — is anyone doing a formal or informal comparison of different methods? A formal comparison might involve seting up small areas of peat with different coverings/treatments for a statistical trial, or might just consist of a formal record of all available information about the progress of each project, including the negatives. And including the environmental cost and social impact of the methods, maybe. Also, while walking down the mountain I was wondering why you didn’t use strips of felt three or four or ten times as long then unroll them to make a path. Less pegging, but on second thoughts I guess that longer strips would be more clumsy, less easy to control or direct. The artistic reason for the curious spaghnum moss cellular structure pattern might puzzle me on and off for a long time but I am content to remain puzzled. Hope to be lucky enough to volunteer again sometime, all the best, Rachel

    • caerhendre says:

      Thank you too Rachel, it was certainly a great day, if a little windy!
      As an artist I have approached this project from my own interests and experience. I was told about the use of heather, bracken and gorse brash together with geo-textiles such as coir and jute and the helicopter trips to get the stuff onto these remote sites.
      When I finally managed to convince the ecologists at the National Park National Park that felted wool might be a more sustainable solution I then had to get funding to trial it. That was the first line, last year. As part of the condition of funding I put a section of felted wool on another, fenced site to see how it behaved. ( It stayed in place and has lots of seedlings growing on it, however the site is very different in that it is consistently much wetter .
      The roughness of handmade felt seems to have provided micro habitats and was beginning to grow algae and moss before this prolonged period of dry weather.
      As to formal recording and comparisons it would be wonderful if some body or institution would take on the task.
      It is Because of the fierce nature of the environment on thehill that I have deliberately cut the felt this year to short lengths to stop them tearing away in one piece if wind or water get under them.
      As to the images I am creating from the site you may need to come and see for yourself. I have an open studio event on 29/30 May see Crickhowell Art Trail and also in July Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery exhibition Bog~ Mawnog.

      Hope this all helps!

  5. Rachel Gladstone says:

    Hi Pip, your answers were interesting. I’m sad to have missed the open studio event. Don’t have anything really worth adding here but I wondered who is really knowledgeable about the peat bog plants; which species are growing around your woollen line and around other peat bog erosion areas, how they seed, what weather suits them and so on. I wonder how the seedlings on the felt from the fenced area are doing and whether some of the seedlings are from the same kind of plants as are growing by the woollen line and how to collect seeds from those to test on the felt in “easy” conditions. I’m just nosey and without any in depth knowledge of peat bogs, not even go big toe deep. I suppose noone knows whether climate change, if it exists, is making peat erosion worse, with its extremes of dry and wet, cold and hot weather. But erosion on Kinder predates climate change concerns. These musings are obvious and don’t need a reply, but perhaps somewhere there is a scientific journal on peat bogs with contributions involving the seeding of bog grasses, jute, statistical diaries and the odd sherpa.

  6. Pingback: Welcome to the woollen line Comment | condorcowden

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