J & D > We’re Open! And we’ve a new look, too! This year, the stock in our shop is hand-made to an even greater degree than previously. Scarves, for example : they’ve always been hand-woven (by Denise), of course, but now more of them are woven with hand-spun yarn, rather than mill-spun ; and there’s more of such yarns that are hand-coloured with plant-based dyes.
J & D > As of yesterday, the 29th June, in Scotland, non-essential shops accessible directly from the street have been permitted to re-open. However, it’s on the 3rd of July – just three days away! – that restrictions on travel in Scotland will be lifted (including restrictions on the ferries) and completely self-contained self-catering holiday accommodation can re-open.
It could be a garden-related art installation : in which case the mass of plastic pots congesting the garden paths would be nicely symbolic of the massive accumulation of pots of various colours, shapes and sizes in the work-shed, upstairs in the storage loft. But if this is symbolic of anything, it’s of the need to liquidate assets in a time of crisis.
D > J and I have recently been collecting some early Bog Myrtle [aka Sweet Gale] leaves from the Eiseabhal common grazings just up the lane – there are vast areas of it there. I’ve been in the dyeshed making some colour with four types of mordant.
J & D > It was back in 2017 that we first made use of material from our Phormium plants [Phormium Tenax – New Zealand Flax] for dyeing wool. The results were impressive – as regards quantity of material available, yield of colour, usefulness of colour, ease of use, and – if tentatively, the all-important colour-fastness, too. But we weren’t sure, then, which part of the plant contained the greatest concentration of colour.
D > Some while ago I pre-mordanted a few skeins of wool with Alum, storing it dry for when the Sweet Cicely came into flower. The ideal time to pick the leaves is just before the flowers become abundant, after which the depth and vibrancy of colour starts to diminish. The soft creamy yellow will be the foil to another more dominant colour
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!