Denise > Here’s a scarf that I finished making today. The handspun warp is made with wool from Masham sheep – which are native to a certain district in northern England. The weft, too, is handspun, with wool from Merino sheep (dyed purple and lavendar), white Shetland sheep, and just a few grams of Angelina – a synthetic fibre that sparkles with the colours of the fibres it is spun together with. Used sparingly, it adds a touch of magic to a winter wardrobe. I wove the scarf on our Glimåkra floor loom, then washed and tented it, before finishing it with my ‘handwoven’ label.
I’ve been making two new designs of cushions in Harris Tweed weaves.
They differ only in the colour/pattern of pure new wool tweed fabric. In both designs, a plain tweed in the centre third of the front is also used for the back. A quality cushion pad, sewn-in, is filled with goose feather and down.
This is Crotal, a lichen which is commonly found – throughout the Outer Hebrides – on rocks, gravestones and even on roofs. One traditional recipe involves fermenting an orange-brown lichen in urine, to produce a purple dye!
We prefer to leave our customers to make their own associations between what they see on the displays in the Hebridean Woolshed, and what they see in the landscapes, seas and skies around them, here in Uist. They’ll be all the happier for not being told by us what to think.
This Ladies’ Wrap or Shawl will certainly make a statement, with a generous size of approx. 40cm wide, 260cm long (plus twizzled fringes), hand-woven with hand-spun yarns, and made with luxury fibres – wool from Shetland, Masham and Merino sheep, and natural tussah silk.
Recently, a guest staying at one of our two holiday cottages bought one our largest Harris Tweed cushions ; but on returning home was so pleased with how the cushion complemented her furnishings, she contacted us to request another cushion. She didn’t want identical cushions – she was looking for designs that would contrast with eachother, yet all would settle in well in her home.
Crofting is, historically, a form of subsistance farming. First and foremost, it’s about feeding the family. And it’s just that – what we came into crofting for in the first place – that we are continuing with. Not least because we cannot face a life without eggs that have the unique colour and flavour that’s characteristic of this place.
Mugwort is a plant with numerous traditional uses, including as a treatment for malaria, depression, joint pain, and a great deal more. But it’s the use as a dye stuff that got us interested, and having read up on the subject, back at home, we immediately set out once again to the track through the dunes at Smercleit where we had found numerous large specimens of the plant.
This year, for the first time, we have produced for our mill-spun range, a marled yarn – with one strand Hebridean, the black contrasting sharply with the strands of Cheviot – inspired by seeing the two breeds gathered together into one fank.
There’s a side to my personality – the engineer! – that continually strives to find patterns, build structures, impose order. Thank heavens, then, there’s another side of me – one that prefers to let go, to open wide the thought and let in the serendipitous, the many wonders that fall into our laps without us having to do a thing, and might never even have imagined existed or were possible.