The difference in tone between the Hebridean hat and Hebridean mitten is not a trick of the light/camera : it is real. The hat is a special because it’s made with the very finest Hebridean lambswool spun true worsted. Not apparent from a photo is that it is smoother, softer and more supple than the usual woolen-spun lambswool, and even slightly lustrous.
This yarn comes from one of the very first batches of mill-spun wool from our flock, when we sent to a small mill that specialized in worsted spinning. It was very expensive and we had to wait almost a year to get it back from them, so we’ve not made that choice again! We’re holding this yarn back for special orders…
We’ve sold Eight Askernish. After taking the final reading of the electricity meters, we’ve handed over the keys to the new owner, who has moved to the Outer Hebrides from Monmouthshire – in south-east Wales.
Leaving 8 Askernish for the last time, after final reading of the meters and handing over the keys
The last booking was a disaster, the guests badly abusing the cottage and leaving us traumatised and seriously out of pocket.
That’s such a pity, as it’s tarnished our memories of our time owning the cottage. We put a great deal of hard work, commitment, energy and ideas into the cottage, and got rewards both financial and personal ; but the whole business environment has changed out of all recognition, since we bought the cottage in 2005. The likes of AirBnB and TripAdvisor are to blame, but they are too big, too powerful to ignore. So, whilst we can be proud of what we achieved, it was – and it is, time to move on.
The proceeds from the sale will be used – when the opportunity arises – as a (not entirely figurative) downpayment on a new chapter in our lives.
Late afternoon – 3pm at this time of year, and the first still and sunny break for many days. We gather up : coats, boots, Tilly. From Smercleit, north along the western shore of South Uist as far as Boisdale. We turn there, our lengthening shadows straggling homeward behind us.
5th December 2002, 18 years ago today, a day much like today, we arrived at the walled garden with our ginger cats Molly and Meg, Lady – a wire-haired Jack Russel, and mile-high hopes for a more fulfilling life.
I’m spinning a 4-ply yarn with just 2-strands. That’s because there is a weight/thickness that, in the UK, is known as 4-ply, and which is somewhat thinner/lighter than Doubleknit (aka DK). I’m spinning one strand with my own selection of pre-coloured Merino tops. The other strand is from a naturally oatmeal-coloured Blue-Faced Leicester.
The Hebridean Woolshed : Merino
Merino (coloured) and Blue-faced Leicester (natural oatmeal)
These two skeins were handspun with equal measures of Flax (in a natural creamy white) and Shetland wool (a natural peaty brown). The Shetland is fine and soft – like the Merino, but has the fine crimp that traps air and makes the yarn and garments made with it ‘springy’ and warm. The Flax, spun in a semi-worsted fashion, is smooth and slippy, and contributes to the finished yarn an easy drape, resilience, and a measure of sheen. It’s a great combination for a scarf.
J & D > Historically, (well, since the 1920s or ’30s), crofters have collected the seaweed from the shore using a tractor : even to this day, many crofters that continue this practice use a trusty old Massey Ferguson. We don’t have a tractor, because we don’t have enough work for it, and we can’t get the tractor to where we need to offload the seaweed. So we use garden forks and wheelbarrows instead of that prongy attachment thingy, our arms and legs instead of a tractor, and we cart it home to in the trailer, then reversing the operation to get the seaweed onto the compost heaps. Hard work, but it keeps us fit!