Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Greetings

No-name turkey is celebrating her second Christmas with us.  She has grown into a fine bird and we hope she will be with us for many years to come.

I'm not a great traditionalist when it comes to Christmas - we enjoy a walk out if the weather is suitable and a chance to think about future plans and dreams.  This year, though the forecast was a bit iffy and it was certainly pretty chilly, the sun was out and we decided to take a run out to Luskentyre to give the dogs a good run on the beach and pay our respects to past generations at the nearby cemetery.

I'm not sure what I expected, taking into account that there is still an awful lot of snow about, but the beach was magnificent coated in snow and frost - hard and crackly and very sparkly.  The above shows Bramble and little Heather facing inland and you can see the snowline at high water mark which stretched up over the marram and onto the dunes behind.  Bramble kept dashing up out of site in the grass - maybe there were rabbits about!

Not to be outdone, here's Pippin on the sand with the sea behind and the island of Taransay (remember "Castaway" in 2000?).

With an eye to next season, this afternoon I got out a bag of recently arrived lambswool produced by Hynchcliffe and purchased from Uppingham Yarns (  The colour on my camera is not that great indoors because clockwise from top right is baby pink, cocoa, charcoal and pastel blue.
These will be used as weft for the linen warp I have currently in the loom and will become beautiful fluffy scarves which will be on sale from the loomshed next year.

We wish all our readers a happy holiday.  But those for whom today is a sad occasion due to bereavement are also in our thoughts -  may you find peace.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Weather first, then more interesting stuff!

First of all, yes it's been cold here, and yes, we have had a bit of snow, and here is an iconic picture of one of our Hebridean Ewe Hoggs looking like a sugar dusted christmas cake decoration.

Between them, this lot scoffed an entire bale of hay today.

The Cheviot ram just managed to get into the bottom left of the picture.  He hasn't lost an ounce of condition during tupping and still looks as chunky as he did in November.

Remember the angora goats I saw at Sallies tapestry workshop in Great Bernera the other week?  I've spent ages trying to decide what to do with it - having no experience with mohair whatsoever. 

Anyway, I think I've cracked it.  Here's the recipe for processing angora goat hair.......  First of all, steep it in a solution of Hebridean Soap (I use lemon and eucalyptus liquid soap that Linda makes up for me) and hand-hot water.  Leave it for a few hours - don't agitate it too much in case it felts. 

Then do the same thing again. 

Then use a bit of Merino Lanolin Wash (available from Skyeskins at Waternish, Isle of Skye) and soak in cool water for 30 minutes. 

Take it out, spin the excess water out in a horizontal spin drier (not the sort that's in a front-loader automatic washing machine). 

Stick it all on a towel and let it dry in a warm spot, turning gently every now and again.

At this stage, it must be completely dry before you start picking it or it will tangle and stretch.  It will be lovely and shiny looking now - anything that looks dull or short or bitty can be discarded as it will bring the quality of the whole batch down.  The bobbin below was spun direct from picking - didn't go through the carder at all.  A bit of thick and thin and a few curly bits did find their way in.  Thought it would be more curly but I think that mohair - unlike Wensleydale which is big and bold and right in yer face - is discreet and elegant and very understated but just reeks of class!

Then I hanked it up.  As a single its a tad twisty but taking into account that its got to be washed, re-hanked, dyed and then wound and then used in a shuttle for tapestry, I'm counting on the slight overtwist to even out by the end of the operation.

As a point of interest, the black hanks hanging next to the mohair is some Wensleydale spinning I'm doing for Teoshandspuns at Broadford, Isle of Skye.  So Teo, if you're seeing this - I am doing it, really...

With all this fabby fibre fun indoors we aren't really noticing the snow creeping up outside the front door, but if you are - take extra care and don't venture outside unless you are well-prepared (ie crampons, ice-axe, huskies, fully-provisioned sled and (on a special seasonal note) reindeer). 

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A feed delivery just in time!

Though our weather has not been as cold or as snowy as others in the UK we have been disadvantaged by mainland conditions, and lorries containing our essential supplies have been taking longer than usual to arrive.

Yesterday we were are the supermarket in Stornoway and there were lots of empty spaces on the shelves.  Fortunately we have simple tastes and everything on our list was in stock - except the rich tea biscuits.

Down to their last bit of hay, the sheep have been waiting for the Lewis Crofters lorry to arrive at the gate, and today it did!  So it was cheers all round and a dash for the feed shed to put the bales and bags away before we got mugged (or should that be "fleeced"!)

The snow has more or less disappeared near sea level at least, but it's now blowing a gale.  So batten down the hatches....