Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Lots of things to tell you....

Loads has been happening since my last blog.  We had big problems with our dial-up internet access in the house which meant I only had the broadband in the shed and since the shed has been packed out almost every day during opening hours, there just hasn't been the opportunity to update the blog.  However, now we have a dongle for mobile broadband (which isn't actually broadband since we don't get broadband mobile here, instead it works at the same speed as dial-up!), so we are communicado again from the house.  It does get very complicated living here sometimes....

Daisys lamb is growing up fast - here he is enjoying a bottle.  Sadly this morning we lost the first lamb we hand-reared, from Braxy.  It was such a cold night with gale force wind, low temperatures and driving rain that I guess it was inevitable that at least one lamb wouldn't make it.

On a more cheerful note - Harris Dog who emigrated to the US has been travelling again.  Here he is at Damariscotta Lake in Maine enjoying the company of another new friend - Marley the Corgi.  We look forward to getting further updates on his adventures from Sandy.

Lots of really interesting folks in the shed over the past couple of weeks - Lorna the corset maker from Edinburgh took some of my white herringbone linen which she said would look fabby and has promised to send me a photo when complete, which I will post on the blog.

Carin from Australia who is heavily into tweeds and tailoring visited for the second time bringing examples of her designs.  Carin has a company called "Taigh an Truish" which, translated from Gaelic means "House of Trousers".  Apparently there was a time in history when the Gaels were prohibited from wearing tartan, kilts etc but they ignored the rule when they were at home.  If they travelled away, they would leave their highland dress at "Taigh an Truish" and change into lowland dress.  Then on the way back they would change again!  Carin is hoping to move to Harris in the future and continue her business from the heart of the tweedlands.  We wish her all the best and look forward to welcoming her.

Jean, Treasurer of the mid-Essex Spinners, Weavers and Dyers Guild, visited armed with two gorgeous grey Shetland fleeces which she swopped for two Hebridean ones.  Jean does a great deal of hand-spinning and also is a great fan of Natural Fibres Ltd in Launceston.  She took some photos and we had a great time chatting about spinning, weaving, fibres, etc etc, and the time went too quickly.  She is hoping that her guild will be able to arrange a crafting tour to the Hebrides which sounds like a great idea.

If you're a vegetarian, best skip over this paragraph...  At the beginning of the month we had a delivery from BruHighlanders - .  They stay at Brue in west Lewis (we got our dog Bramble from Brue and also collect Hebridean fleeces from a croft in the same area) and produce prime highland beef which is really spectacular.  We've already had a joint and some mince from the pack and it is delicious.  I would recommend them to anyone who is in the market for locally produced meat from , beautifully cared-for animals.  Don't know why it's taken us so long to decide to try local beef - we already produce our own lamb/mutton, eggs and chicken.  Together with potatoes from the croft and sitting in front of a peat fire, what more do we need for the perfect life?

Actually, I can answer that - my last Hebridean Harris Tweed was turned back by the stamper at the Harris Tweed Authority.  Haven't asked why yet, but imagine its either a "Friday-afternoon" tweed (ie really badly woven!) or I've got the weights all wrong.  Anyway, its good to know that the HTA are dancing on their toes and keeping up standards.  Interestingly, on the same day I got an order from our customers in London who sell to the entertainment industry for costumes etc. for linen cloth to go to New Zealand for use in the new production of "The Hobbit".  That news bucked us up no end as its been a while since Scalpay Linen was out in public - last outing I think was Glyndebourne a couple of years ago, though I think there was a little something in the TV version of "Merlin".

Here is the left hand side of our new Harris Tweed which is on the loom just now.  Had a really bad time with the accent threads which were just not right at all, so I swapped them for some of the space-dyed Harris wool which featured in an earlier blog and they fit in very well.  Have had some very encouraging compliments about the look of the tweed.  Seems to have the right number of shots per inch and nice straight edges so hope this one will go through the stamper ok.

The new training for weavers in Harris is due to start in January 2011.  We were down at the workshop in Harris where the double width looms are set up and the project seems to be progressing well.  The Hattersley weavers will get training on their own premises - as there is less work for the Hattersley looms from the mills the intention is that these weavers will be setting up their own small businesses around the looms, in much the same way as Scalpay Linen operates.  Adverts inviting applications will be appearing in the local press very soon.


Katja said...

Dear Sheila,

This tweed looks so beautiful! I am always amazed what the weft can do with a warp.
I guess it is the pink/light blue warp I saw on your warping Mill when I visited you in July? (you remember the german cyclist/weaver? That is me.) To be honest, I didn't like the colours then but now it looks really good!

Best regards,

Scalpay Linen said...

Hi Katja, Many thanks for the compliment - it is a very understated tweed now and I'm happy that at last it is saying what I want it to! Glad you got home safely - you wouldn't want to be cycling here just now - gale force winds, lashing rain, hailstones and really chilly. The summer wasn't a great one weather-wise but it looks like winter has come to us rather early this year! All the best. Sheila