Denise: J was out on in the garden all day Saturday and most of today, digging for the foundations for where we’re going to move the garden shop to. The ground slopes slightly – enough such that the digging is quite deep at one end. This part of the garden also doesn’t appear to have been cultivated for a very very long time, for the soil is poor in humus, compacted and very hard. The turf has gone on the compost heap, and the best soil has gone to fill in where the pond used to be – a lot of barrowing. Saturday was a lovely day, and today started fine, but by lunchtime the wind was getting up and the spits and spots turning into persistent rain. Eventually he had to give up, frustrated, as he really wanted to get that job done before the weekend was out, but he came in exhausted, wet and muddy: perhaps he should have stopped just an hour sooner. Since then the weather has deteriorated rapidly and we’re up to Severe Gale, the window glass bowing silently (they start creaking at Storm force, and start to cause alarm at Severe Storm!), and the roof creaking and even the internal doors rattling. This is forecast to carry on for a day or two, but we’ll bide our time, and then finishing the work in the sun will be a real pleasure again. And it might even be nice enough to take a photo to show you a nice neatly dug rectangular hole in the ground!
Well it’s almost a full year since I sent it off for spinning, but at long last the wool skeins have now arrived! All the wool is worsted spun from selected first clips, and very dark and lustrous. Most is DK weight, some we ordered as Aran weight. About half of the DK will go to pay for Hebridean lambs we bought last year. We really could do with either more sheep or access to more wool to buy!
‘Trouble up’ mill’ meant they didn’t start our wool until a month or more ago, by which time we were actually able to add fleeces from this year’s clip!! Unfortunately that means the wool we now have left to sell (after paying for the lambs) has got to last us even longer.
We’ve talked it over many times – each time coming to a firm conclusion the opposite or at least diffent to the last time. But now we are definitely and finally decided. More or less as soon as Jonathan is home for good in a week or so’s time, he’ll start work on a new studio/shop for the Hebridean Woolshed. The scandinavian log-style garden cabin we put up (it cost us about £1250 all told!) back in 2003 as a general-purpose garden shop really just isn’t up to the job: not big enough, no enough protection from the weather, from damp and insects; and above all it just looks NAFF!
The new shop will still be in the style of a shed, but more like a traditional Hebridean outbuilding (no I don’t mean falling down and surrounded by old cars!), but solidly built, and at least 50% bigger than the existing shed. It will be positioned so that its outline will be softened with with trees and shrubs.
Denise: I’ve now got more details on the wool yarn and needles required for the Eriskay knitting. Needles are very fine – 2 25 and made of rosewood at £18 a pair; and the yarn is an extremely fine multi-ply. However this is an important investment in a potentially high-value new area of work, and it is good to be learning something new.
Denise: Noticed a notice about a course on Eriskay knitting. The island had its own tradition of family patterns, and there’s very few who know how to knit them, especially the most authentic patterns. Norma Neil from Askernish is going to present the course, with the support of a native of Eriskay. I’ve signed up for it, and got the information on what yarns and needles I’ll need.