Friday, 29 April 2011

Lambing and Weaving News

A wee update on lambing so far.....  We have our first black Hebridean lambs now - a set of twins born a couple of weeks ago.  They are doing well and are very black and lively.  The other lambs don't quite know what to make of them.

Daisy's lamb is growing up fast.  She is now out of the nursery field and doing well on the croft.  She's got a beautiful curly crimpy coat and has a very pretty face too.

There are three lambs on the bottle just now - two abandoned (see previous posts) and a third we found whose mother had died and we thought probably wouldn't survive as she was under-nourished and very small.  However, contrary to expectations, she is taking milk from the bottle, putting on weight and getting on well with the other two.  Undoubtedly the good weather is making all the difference.  Yesterday was very foggy and dull, but today the sun is shining again and it's really making the grass grow.  Next Saturday the sheep move from the crofts out to the  summer grazings so anyone who is on the roads on Scalpay in the morning, be aware that hundreds of sheep will be on the move!

Now the loomshed is open for the season we are already seeing lots of visitors.  Next week we welcome two parties from the US guided by the Singing Weaver and her assistant.  It's always a highlight of our year and there was definitely something lacking from last year when they skipped a visit because of the economy etc. 

On the loom just now is a linen which is destined for the production of "The Hobbit".  This is the second cloth we have supplied.  Having nearly run out of this amazing black and white marl linen yarn we have identified a very similar one from our new spinner - Jos Vanneste in Belgium.   The ever-helpful Denis is also sending over some samples of a thicker hairier linen yarn that we are considering incorporating into a new weight of linen cloth.  All exciting stuff.

And to show that even my warping is getting better - here is the beam  with no trailing ends.  Ha, must be getting better with practice!

Looking through my yarn store, I noticed that I had a number of different shades of this fine marl linen - we bought it years ago from our first spinner in Comber, N Ireland - and as the loom is threaded up for a fine yarn (ie three ends to each dent of the reed) we are going to make a series of cloths out of the marl.  Above is the navy/white.  It looks just like denim when woven up and is incredibly smooth and shiny.  We also have a dusty pastel pink, a pastel blue and a beautiful muted light green. 

Other croft news:  the chickens are laying well - we are now getting half a dozen araucana eggs (the green/blue ones) each day and every new hen we hatched last year is in full lay.  The turkey is laying and a friend is using the eggs for baking, and the guinea fowl are laying, but goodness knows where!  The ducks all just seem to be sleeping in the sun and eating.

Tomorrow, if the weather is not raining, I'm going to spend the day outside with a sack picking up the various bits of debris which have collected and are making the place look a bit untidy.  We must be ready for the Singing Weavers!

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Even more lambs... wonderful Wensleydale... and Tokyo pandas

Update on the twins.  Here's one of them, now a week old and both doing very well.

Now we have an orphan lamb on the premises.  Mum was a gimmer, it was raining, a difficult birth and she galloped off as soon as she was able.  Momma Bramble is getting into practice again and the lamb is doing well, if a little surprised!

Getting the Wensleydale spinning ready to go now.  Washed and aired.  Beautiful colours ranging from pure white through light grey, dark grey and chocolate brown with wonderful coppery tips to the curls. 

I'm looking forward to perhaps being more heavily involved in the Uist Wool Group who are working towards building, equipping and running a small woollen mill in Grimsay, Uist.  The proposed mill will service the needs of local livestock producers and could ultimately reflect in a diversity of types of Harris Tweed as well as a resurgence of the industry in the Uists.  I'm so looking forward to weaving the first Wensleydale Harris Tweed - it's going to be just gorgous!

And a reminder to anyone who in Harris who is thinking of applying for the training places for weaving double-widths for the mills and hattersley single widths on an independent basis.  The closing date for applications is coming up next week so you need to get the skates on if you haven't already.  This is a marvellous opportunity - particularly for those who wish to start a small business - and it's not going to happen again in the near future.  So grab it now and ring HDL at the Old Hostel in Tarbert......

And finally, to celebrate the arrival of two pandas at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, here are a couple of photos we took during our last visit to Japan.  In Yokahama  chinatown there is an area which is totally panda-orientated and we bought bread rolls with chocolate filling decorated as pandas.  Very cute, and very tasty.
Happy panda.

Sad panda.

 Footnote:  Events Monthly will available from today - so pick up your free copy next time you go shopping.