J > Clun Forest isn’t actually a forest at all! Before we moved to Uist we lived a little to the north of the Clun Forest. It was always high up on our favourite areas to go exploring, whether summer or winter, for coffee and cake or a striding out along Offa’s Dyke or the rolling hills of traditional small-scale pasture and woods that make this border country so wonderful. These days, the sheep to be found grazing on the hills of the Clun Forest are various : Llanwenog ; Hill Radnor ; Welsh White Mountain ; Beulah Speckle-faced ; Welsh Hill Speckle-faced ; Brecknock Hill Cheviot ; Kerry Hill ; and
J & D > We’re falling back on our own resources, as the coronavirus crisis bears down on us. Thank heavens, that we own our own house outright, we’re without mortgage or other debt, and have good fertile garden soil and all the other the resources we need to grow much of our own food, and to live healthily and well!
Until even a few days ago, we would never – we could never ! – have believed that anything like this could happen – other than in a Holywood disaster movie! Yesterday, the Scottish Government announced that ferries to the Outer Hebrides will, until further notice, be limited to carrying only persons who are permanent residents of the islands, or key service workers !
D > Through the winter I worked on the design and first examples of a few new products, and amongst those are these totes and bags. There are two types shown here : crochet bags (in three sizes) in our own Cheviot wool naturally dyed with plant-extracts ; and, in vertical stripes , woven tote bags in Harris Tweed woollen twill, fully lined with a sturdy cotton fabric.
Here’s a handful of skeins I finished recently. The red and yellow strands are made with fine merino ; the black is natural Shetland ; but it’s the grey that’s interesting. Each of the two strands is variegated, with two shades of naturally brown-grey Blue-Faced Leicester, along with Soya fibre.
The Hebridean Woolshed : new designs of yarn by Jonathan
Soya fibre is fine and whispy, lustrous and velvet-smooth, and creamy in colour. Not unlike silk!
There’s plenty to get on with indoors. We’re busy enough that we can leave the weather to do its thing without worrying much about the mischief it is making. There’s already a good number of tasks on our lists that have been struck through – which is so satisfying! ; and one of those tasks was to complete the artwork for our new style guides, and use those to design and print posters at various formats and sizes
Denise > I’ve got a stack of the new Beinn Stac and Hebridean Sock kits ready to take up to the Hebridean Woolshed’s garden shop (though they’ll just be put away in boxes of stock until we reopen at Easter for the 2020 season). That said, they are available immediately for online customers.
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.