Monday, 24 May 2010

     First shear of the season - a wether that slipped through the gather the other week and was found cavorting in the village with some of its mates.  Bramble rounded it up, O/H sheared it, and now it's waiting to go to Cooking Pot Island on Tuesday evening.  Pippin is looking on and picking up tips...

     On the loom just now - a linen twill.  12 purple, 10 white, 2 red and with a purple and white weft.  Looking good.  Hopefully we'll be picking up the green linen from the mill on Thursday and dropping off the orange and brown Harris Tweed.

     The North Harris Agricultural Show is going to be on 6th August at the show ground in Urgha - just down from Tarbert on the Kyles Scalpay road.  O/H and I are going to be judging the tweeds, and I shall be taking my spinning wheel to do some demonstrating.  So anyone who is going to be in the vicinity, do come along to see the supreme champion sheep and cattle competition, poultry competition, arts and crafts, home baking and refreshments and stalls.  Lots of fun for all the family.

Monday, 17 May 2010

     On Saturday we moved our swing sign to another location, beside the apportionment to our croft.  It looks very good in front of the stone cliff.  And the strategy must have worked since we had a very busy day today - unusual for a Monday. 
The weather has been just glorious today.  Sunshine nearly all the way and excellent views across the mountains.  I think that if I didn't live here, I would want to come here on holiday too!

     Then on my way from the shed to the house I suddenly noticed a small group of primroses nestling in amongst the rocks.  Also a little purple flower, if you look carefully.  Everything is late in coming through this year, guess it was the very cold spring, but it's heartwarming to see them finally appear.
     So a happy Primrose Day to everyone.......

Friday, 14 May 2010

Something a little unexpected.....

     Isn't it strange that you can be having a perfectly ordinary day - shopping in Stornoway, delivering eggs to customers, anticipating an afternoons' weaving in the shed - and then all of a sudden something happens that is so unexpected that it's almost bizarre.
     Well, something like that happened to me this afternoon.  We'd just arrived home at lunch time and went to turn the van behind the shed when we saw something very odd - a fencepost, sticking out of the loomshed car parking area!!

     As you can imagine this was a bit disturbing - so on enquiring from the workmen, who were looking busy digging holes and carrying posts about, what was occurring, we were told that our next door neighbour was building a fence which includes the car park.  OK.  Fine.  No warning, just a new fence.  Apparently I'm lucky to still have the entrance path to the shed, so praise be for small mercies heaped upon the small business owner.  
     In the meantime I am apologising most sincerely to all my future customers who are under the impression that I have a dedicated car parking space for Scalpay Linen.  In fact, I don't, but my neighbour will have a nicely gravelled fenced off area.  I'm hoping that a new rose garden, or a landscaped parkland or even a jolly polytunnel will sprout within the soon-to-be new fence which will undoubtedly enhance the area and be a joy to behold both summer and winter alike.  There will still be parking behind the shed in the passing place and my O/H has promised to sort out something tout suite so please continue to flock to my loomshed.  We have had some lovely visitors so far this year, and are looking forward to welcoming many, many more.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

In a Quandary....

     I couldn't make up my mind what the title of today's blog should be.  Perhaps "It's beginning to look a bit like Christmas" (only really it's the middle of May!), or maybe that old classic - "Summertime".
     Of course, it was a bit parky yesterday, and there was the odd flake or two of snow during the day, and I did nearly succumb to hyperthermia in the shed yesterday (not really), but I wasn't expecting an almost Alpine view from my bedroom window this morning......

     There are still snow flurries over the Clisham, yet the sun is shining brightly over Luskentyre way.  Guess that's the Outer Hebrides for you! 
     My late father, who was well into horticulture in Harris in the 1970's used to say that there was no point in planting out anything tender before the beginning of June or it would end in tears.  This year has been a case in point.
     Last Monday we had a visit from Joanne Kaar, the papermaker from Durness in Caithness who has an exhibition currently on at the Morvern Gallery in Lewis.  She dropped by to pick up a sack of my linen waste, which she uses to make the most glorious paper with, and left me a new visitor book - below.

     OK, the writing is mine and is not incredibly artistic.  Everyone who has signed it so far has really enjoyed writing on the paper because its a different experience to writing on Basildon Bond, or whatever we use these days.  I feel I should have a quill pen and a pot of ink made out of....  whatever they make ink out of.... to get the true ambience.  The cockerels had better watch out for their tails!!

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Hebridean Harris Tweed and another Cute Lamb Photo

At last, my first Harris Tweed made entirely from wool grown on Lewis and Harris. In total the tweed has travelled only around 150miles from coming off the back of the sheep to getting back to Scalpay on the roll. Wonder when the last time one of these was produced? Thanks to all those who supplied the wool, including Richard Maclennan from Borve whose wonderful Cheviot fleeces provided that little extra something to the finished product. Also thanks to Carloway Mill and Shawbost Mill for all the hard work they put in on the project. Thanks to Lorna Macaulay, head of the Harris Tweed Authority for her assistance in getting the idea off the ground. Thanks to everyone in the family who has been so kind and patient through the many years this has taken to bring to fruition. OK this is starting to sound like the Oscars. Actually, it feels a bit like it. Everyone who has helped with this will get a special celebration item made of the tweed in due course. Meantime, I just can't stop stroking it and loving it....... (note to self - must get out more!)

In the wet weather we have been recently experiencing, who can blame a lamb for not wanting to lie on the damp grass? This one has found the ultimate comfort experience - a wonderful warm sheepskin that smells like mum!
Other news - we now have three broody hens on eggs. One is due to hatch this Thursday or Friday. The second is in its second week now and the third went down yesterday onto 6 turkey eggs I got from E-bay. They came from the Highlands and were incredibly quick in arriving through the post. Let's hope Royal Mail handled them with care. Anyway, maybe we will have a little friend for No-name turkey by the end of the month!
We now have three little girl lambs on the bottle - all cute and cuddly and progressing very well. The island sheep will be going to the summer grazings next Friday/Saturday, so hope to have my camera out for that. Bramble will be working as usual, Pippin will be in attendance - on a lead so he can meet the other dogs and get to see a crowd of sheep. It's all go down on the croft...
And finally.... have just heard from Alpacas of Lewis that our Four-horn Ram (who, you may recall, spent a working holiday over Christmas and New Year at Galson in Lewis) has just become a daddy to twins. Can't wait to see the wee ones photo on the blog.