Denise: As Autumn advances, visitors to the islands become few and far between and the roads and beaches fall quiet. So too at The Big Garden and The Hebridean Woolshed! Over the years, we’ve tended to keep the shop open until … well, until we thought it was about time we packed stock away to protect it from cold and damp of winter. That could be as late as the end of November!
This year, with customers increasingly expecting to find our opening hours on the internet – and us to keep to them!, we decided we could do with more down-time (though that could turn out as more time to make new stock for next year!), so we set the end of the season at 30 September. Except that it won’t be … it will be the 29th. That’s when I’m flying off to ‘foreign lands’ (a-ha! you’ll have to wait to find out where I’m going to!), and J will be kept busy doing … well, doing everything. I’ll be having some real down-time, complete with breakfast-in-bed, reading-in-bed, waited on hand-and-foot.
So, if you’re wanting any Big Garden jam, chutney, lemon curd (there’s two jars left!), fresh herbs, Hebridean hogget lamb – and of course anything from the The Hebridean Woolshed, you’ve got until next Wednesday. After that we’ll be open only for eggs and preserves: anything else and – well, we’ll see you next Easter!
Jonathan: Meet our new equipment for the weigh-in of bigger heavier items such as bags of wool or even crammed-full woolsacks, outgoing parcels, sheep back from the abattoir, lambs, dogs, cats, chickens, Denise, world champion heavyweight boxers – anything that’ll stand still for a few moments (perhaps not the heavyweight boxers!) and weighs less than 330kg! Mains and battery operation, easily portable. Why didn’t we get one of these before?! [D: perhaps because they cost a lot of money and take a lot of space?]. Can you guess what weighs 88.65kg? There’s a clue in the angle of the photo!
Denise: This new kit went into the ‘garden shop’ a few days ago, but other matters intervened and it’s only today that we’ve got round to putting it online, on the Hebridean Woolshed website. We don’t call them Uist Felted Purses because the design originates here in Uist. No, it’s because the wool is grown here in Uist. Some customers seem to find it difficult to chose between the black Hebridean and the white of the Cheviot. This kit solves that problem neatly: both wools are used in the one design! J asks what these purses can be used for. What a silly question! Only a man … !!! Unfortunately he doesn’t seem ready to accept a withering look as a sufficient answer, so – just to humour him – we’ve staged a couple of photos to help men in need of both a present for their partners! Unfortunately adding these photos means I have also to add the note that the kits do not include the contents! Anyway, if you’re interested, you’ll find all the details on our Hebridean Woolshed website.
Uist Felted Purse (Tall) from the Hebridean Woolshed
Uist Felted Purse (Wide) from the Hebridean Woolshed
Uist Felted Purses from the Hebridean Woolshed, Isle of South Uist
Charlotte Linton, J’s first spinning pupil
Denise: I first started spinning in about 1982, when we lived in Kendal. What few others know is that Jonathan too has been spinning all that time. In fact, I seem to recall, as it was he that had assembled our first spinning wheel (an Ashford Traditional), it was him too that got to spin first! (We taught ourselves, from books.) Until 2003, when I started spinning wool for sale (in our own Hebridean Woolshed), we both spun wool about the same. Over the past ten years and more, though, I’ve spun more and more, but J has had to give his full attention to his professional work. But he’s certainly not forgotten how to spin – very far from it. What he’s lost through lack of practice is just speed and consistency. So he’s a bit slow and occasionally wobbly – but nothing that can’t be improved on with a bit more regular spinning! Even without that, though, he really does know what he’s talking about: he’s very knowledgeable about the craft. He’s also got long experience of tutoring beginners (albeit in engineering, not spinning!). Now, since he ‘retired’ from civil engineering and construction, late last summer, we’ve been looking for how he could relieve me of some of my workload. Over the winter we agreed he’d take on tutoring of spinning workshops (perhaps not all, but at least half of them). Well, today was his first workshop. And it looks like he managed to get through. And if this photo of Charlotte – his first pupil – is anything to go by, he must have managed quite well, because she’s not only smiling for the camera, but is managing to keep spinning at the same time!