Thursday, 31 December 2009
Friday, 25 December 2009
....The guinea fowl assembled for a spot of carol singing earlier on in the day (incidentally, don't they match well with the gravel?).......
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Changing the subject, I don't know if you've ever come across those amusing publications called "Luxury Caravan Calendar", "Luxury Shed Calendar" etc. (If not, googling should take you there on Amazon).
Well, here on the islands there has always been a tradition of re-cycling materials and utilising found items in an imaginative way. I guess it is because the supply of raw materials has always been finite and expensive to import so the necessity to make do and mend is still alive and well amongst some sectors of the community. This is especially true of crofters. So when my O/H said he was about to build a sheep fold on the croft to gather the Hebridean sheep into for their dip and drench, my heart skipped with joy.
For this monumental construction we are talking re-cycled corrugated tin which came from someones (possibly our) old shed, and a variety of posts and wood which originated either from the shoreline or from the electricity companys leavings after they took down some of the light poles locally.
As you can see from the picture below, the work was started but,sadly, completion has been delayed by weather (a common occurrence here). I can't wait to see the final result as it looks like it will be a triumph of traditional architecture. You can't see from the photo here but it is in an impressive location with commanding 360 degree views (as the estate agents would say!), O/H reckons it will knock at least 15% off the value of all the houses round about.....
When its finished I will definitely be featuring it again.
Someone who has a good eye for these sort of constructions is Donnie Mackay from Skye - see his http://hebphoto.blogspot.com/.
Friday, 18 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Saturday, 12 December 2009
This year we were all impressed at how fit the sheep were. There was no sign of any existing scab problems, which is a sure sign that our co-operative efforts of the past few years have paid off and the island flock is now free of scab. However, we still have to be vigilant against the infection being brought in from outside.
Here are some of the sheep waiting for their medicine before being released back onto the crofts again. The sheep all know the area to return to - usually the place where they were lambed, and by nightfall everyone was back in familiar territory. The weather yesterday was stunningly good - very clear through cold. Our sheepfold has a wonderful view - it's on top of a hill - and you can see the sea and the mainland of Harris in the background.
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Saturday, 5 December 2009
As you can see, he wasn't incredibly keen on leaving - in fact, when we got up this morning he had jumped out of his field and was cavorting at the end of the croft with some white friends. Eventually we caught him and tied him to the fence so he couldn't get away.
When the trailer arrived he was well impressed! Last occupants had been the new Lewis Alpacas, so he could see that he was at last going to a place with a bit of class. The straw was much to his taste and we didn't hear another sound from him. No doubt he is now enjoying new company in Lewis and we have our fingers crossed that at the beginning of May we will be seeing the results.
Also, on a different tack - I've finally managed to screw up my website! I got some software to help me edit it online as my main problem with updating is the length of time it takes to update offline then go through an FTP program to upload it. Anyway, after a great deal of time fiddling about, the software is attached to my site on the server and I had a go at the first page - upon which all the pictures on the page disappeared. Horror! Not quite sure what to do about it, so I've emailed software support and hope they will help me get my piccies back!
Sunday, 29 November 2009
On a search through my photos I found one of the new linsey-woolsey I picked up from the mill a week ago tomorrow. Pictures of the making of this tweed are further back in the blog, so here is the finished result. It is just gorgeous - warm and tweedy but with the added linen touch to give it some body. I am going to save up and have some made into a jacket. Meantime, the first visitor to the loomshed who saw it snapped up a couple of metres, so that's good news! Anyone interested in buying some, just drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org .
So, the sun is shining, the hens are laying (well, sort of... we went down to one egg only on Tuesday, but on Wednesday it was up to ten again), the turkey is prancing around outside, the dogs are quiet and asleep in front of the fire just now. Blackberry and apple crumble in the oven along with a nice joint of venison. I love living on Scalpay - it's my favourite place.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
At this time of year we are waiting for the lorry to come and pick up our wool clip which was sheared in June/July. As is usual, we are so well-organised that we have to do it the day before and, as usual, the weather was against us. We backed the pick-up close to the side of the house
and rolled fleeces on the tailgate. As registered sheep producers with more than five sheep we have to send our annual clip to the British Wool Board (the nearest depot to us is at Evanton near Dingwall). We are able to buy and sell our Hebridean fleeces as we please since, as rare or vulnerable breeds, they are exempt from the usual rules. The reason producers have to trade through the Wool Board is so that the wool can be traded in world markets in larger quantities than would be the case if individuals negotiated to sell their own clips. This results in a better price for raw wool for the producers and accurate statistics being collected to monitor
Here is a potted version of how to roll a fleece to BWB standards- just in case you ever need to!
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
A lovely surprise when Joan from Calana Crafts (http://www.calanacrafts.blogspot.com/) called to say she had finished some bags for me.
So yesterday, on our way back from Stornoway I called in to see. They are gorgeous! Linsey Woolsey - linen warp and wool weft, some Harris Wool and the others our Hebridean wool from our black sheep. 6 x 6 herringbone and very nicely made. Magnetic popper at the top, co-ordinating lining and fully labelled with both the Scalpay Linen and Masters of Linen Min. 50% linen sew-in labels. I probably won't ever weave exactly this fabric again, so now is a good time to snap up a bargain for Christmas..... £40 each with free postage anywhere.
At some point these will end up on Etsy - but for now, if anyone is interested, just wack off an e-mail to me and we can complete by Paypal.Grey and Brown Hebridean weft with white and natural linen warp. 6 X 6 Herringbone with the point in the centre of the colour. Magnetic popper closing. Flat bag with loop handles.Yellow and red Harris Wool weft over a white linen warp. Flat bag, magnetic popper closing and loop handles.Grey and Brown Hebridean wool spun from local fleeces together with a white and natural striped warp. You won't find this anywhere else! The point of the herringbone pattern is in the centre of the colour stripe which adds to its appeal. Magnetic popper closing, box bottom and loop handles.Purple Fuschia and red Harris Wool weft with white linen warp. Matching purple fuschia lining. Box bottom, magnetic popper closing and loop handles.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
We have been having a lot of refurbishment done on our light poles on the island - a great idea as it can be inconvenient when the lines fall down or break in the bad weather and we are without power. However, the SSE do think they have a divine right to go on our common grazings with diggers and an assortment of tracked vehicles - get stuck, dig themselves out, make large holes which fill with water, cut great swathes of devastation amongst our heather mooorland and, worst of all, knock down our gorgeous hand-built dry-stone dyke which has stood for generations dividing the moorland from the lighthouse precincts. Several years ago they took a digger through it and, under protest, piled the stones back up again in a very rough way. Now we see, they are at it again......
This used to be a track which could be followed through a small gate in the wall and onwards to the lighthouse......
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Spent most of the day in the loomshed beaming, tyeing in, pulling through and starting off the new cloth.
This is the blue and white 10 lea linen warp going onto the beam. Looks like a football scarf!
And here is the warp tied onto the loom and with some weft added. Same as the last linsey-woolsey (2 shots Grey and 2 shots Brown Hebridean wool). Looks very distinctive. We like the white stripe and think we may stick to using white as the alternate stripe in the rest of the range. We still have the red, the purple and the lime green linen to use. At nearly 8kg of weft in each cloth, I'm hoping I'll have enough Hebridean wool to last out the whole caboodle!
Tomorrow we are going to the Shawbost Mill - Harris Tweed Hebrides - to pick up the last linen they finished for us and drop off Linsey Woolsey #1. Carloway Mill are having carder problems so we are still with our fingers crossed that the Hebridean/Cheviot fibre will become a yarn for us.
Saturday, 31 October 2009
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Sunday, 25 October 2009
This afternoon I decided to open up my Etsy shop again - after having it closed since before I went to Japan in March! So to celebrate, I've put on two hanks of Christmas Sparkles handspun, hand-dyed Falkland wool. Hopefully this is just a start. There are 5 more hanks ready for measuring and weighing, and four more ready for dyeing.
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
Next, it's no-name turkey. At last a picture of him/her looking very much like a turkey now. It is still living in the hen house with the hens but is growing at a rate of knots and we will soon have to think about clearing out the turkey shed as it has a larger pop-hole.
And to finishe with, here are the yarns for the new linsey-woolsey. The blue and white are 10lea linen and the brown and grey are Hebridean 13c. The cloth is going to be exactly the same as the one that's in the loom just now - 12 x 12 Herringbone. I've got the yarn up on the creel and if I can find time to start the warp today I will. It's been busy with visitors both morning and afternoon - the season is longer this year I think.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
The dogs were good on the journey (which takes about 1.5 hrs each way) as they always are. Here's a piccie of Pippin to show how big he's getting. One ear is fully vertical now and the other one is on its way up. He looked so cute with the floppy ears but I guess now he's growing up cuteness is not going to be high on his priority list. He is nearly the same size as Bramble and judging by the size of his feet, is still going to put on some inches before he's finished.
When we got home there was a US parcel waiting for me. Great excitement - the yarnmeterI ordered only a few days ago. It was up and running within minutes.....
I have been looking for a small portable yarn meter for ages and ages - when I'm spinning wool for sale people always want to know the yardage as well as the weight as you can work out the thickness of the yarn from that as handspun is generally not a standard gauge. Also, when making up yarn packages for the warping creel, it would be good to know how much to wind onto the little cones so I don't either have knots in the warp because I've underestimated, or loads of part-empty cones hanging around because I've over-estimated. Now, at last my problems are at an end! The principle is to wind the yarn round the wheel (which is 18 ins circumference) and wind it, thus rotating the wheel and clocking up the yardage on the number counter. To get yards you divide by two. Simple!
The meter came from http://www.yarnmeter.com/ and the service is terrific. Nadya was so helpful about air mail postage etc. If you look on the web site there is a wee video to show how it works, but its such a simple idea and soooo effective. Thanks Nadya. Another plus is that the figures on the counter are big enough to see without having to keep bending over, so even my old eyes are not strained! If only the mobile phone companies and packaging printers could take a leaf out of this particular book...
To close the blog today here is a picture of my new linsey-woolsey. Remember the rusty orange and sand linen stripey warp? Well, this is it on the loom with a weft consisting of 2 shots of brown Hebridean and 2 shots of grey Hebridean.
Now, this wasn't what I originally planned - when I tried thebrown on its own it looked a bit odd and I was a tad disappointed with the result. Maybe too much contrast between the brights and the dark, or maybe something else was affecting the look of it. Anyway, decided to add in the grey too and, whilst it will not rock the universe, it is a very pleasant, understated and distinctly tweedy effect. This makes me think I should be considering a matching plain tweed using both grey and brown Hebridean - maybe alternate ends in the warp and with a plain brown weft, or as 2 ends grey 2 ends brown in the warp with a 2 and 2 weft as well which would make a tight little checkerboard effect that would look peppery from a distance and hopefully match in with the linsey woolsey.
Anyone who has any thoughts on this, please do not hold back - I need all the help I can get at this stage of the show!
Now to do some weaving and play with my new yarn meter...........