Friday, 6 September 2013

Looking Back

Well, it's been a busy old summer here at Scalpay Linen.  We have been continuing building looms; have done a lot of design work and even been to the East Coast to assemble a Hattersley and do a bit of teaching there.  Also had a visit from a San Francisco weaver George Strang who dropped by for a couple of days to process and spin up a Hebridean Fleece. We had a great time and I learnt lots from him - handweavers knowledge has so much to offer us Hattersley weavers.
The weather has been variable but mainly good - not hot but enough warmth and rain to get a really good growth of grass going.  Lambing was terrific without any requiring bottle-fed this year.
After going to the Future Trends presentation in Stornoway - with Anne Ritchie - I decided to try to develop my full-warp-width designs concept.  There has been so much emphasis on the country colours of nature in Harris Tweed in the news this year that I have gone in the opposite direction (as usual!).
I've always been fascinated by dereliction, decay and deterioration (and alliteration if the truth be told) and nothing gives me more joy that to see a door with its paint peeling, or wallpaper with damp stains, or corrugated iron gradually oxidising away.  So what better theme for my next Harris Tweed?

This is the warp in situ - it represents a wall originally painted that horrid custardy colour that has been exposed to the elements.  The warp starts as beigy and then transforms into custard and then out into a dully watery grey.  The Harris Tweed Hebrides palette is just magnificent for this sort of work.

I'm afraid you'll have to wait to see the final tweed - here it is lapped ready for milling.  Hoping to take it up to Shawbost this coming week.  However the three wefts I used were the beige on its own, the beige and a darker grey, and finally the darker grey on its own.  Oh yes, and it's all in a hopsack just to make it extra grainy looking.

Another triumph of the season has got to be my bubble scarves.  Remember "wave print" when the waves went down the warp?  Well this is "bubble" where the waves go across the weft and create a strange bubbly crinkly effect. Easy care and incredibly warm.  Will be making more of these in different colours when I get the chance.

Our "poodle" fabric woven with boucle and worsted from our friends at Northbank Mill has proved to be a real success.  Yes, it's a bit more expensive than other cloth but it does have to be hand finished and it is so gorgeous and soft and squasy that folks just can't keep their hands off it in the loomshed!
Again, more of this will follow as I have plenty of the boucle.  We also did quite a bit in a Linsey Woolsey which is every bit as warm and cosy as the  worsted warp.  We did enter it for consideration in the next Modh magazine but didn't get chosen this time.  It's a great furnishing fabric but also great for clothing - like fleece.

Another foray into the world of texture and hand finishing was this linen wrap.  Its squashy and crinkly but in a different way to the bubble scarves.  Linen is so good for warmth I don't know why people think its only for hot climates.

And finally my latest warp....
This is the start of a 100m warp which will be slayed 3 ends to a dent and which has 960 ends.

Here it is finished on the warping mill and waiting to be beamed.  Now there is just the matter of changing the reed, drafting and tying in to be done, oh yes and the other take-up will have to go on the loom so I can put in lots of shots and get a nice firm fabric. 
So that will keep us busy for a wee while.  The week after next I'm off to Paris and London on visits to Premier Vision and London Design Festival.  All good stuff.  I've only ever seen Charles de Gaulle Airport at 4 am after a 13 hour trip from Tokyo so it will be good to see it with some people there.
I know I will get loads of good ideas from everything I see and meet lots of lovely textile people. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

To anyone who may be that way inclined, I know of a 40" Mark 1 Hattersley loom for sale.
If you are interested, please let me know and I'll pass your enquiry on.
As I don't have a pic of the loom, here's one of our Cheviot ram, who, incidentally, is looking for a new home too,  Good-natured chap who produces excellent lambs.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

It's all go at Scalpay Linen.  We are still assembling Hattersley looms at various locations in Harris ready for the new independent weavers to get started.  Cloth design and innovation are the watchwords currently.  The boucle and worsted yarns I mentioned in the last post have now been combined and hand-finished to make the most gorgeous snuggly fabric.

A very similar cloth is available as LinseyWoolsey throws of about 2m.  I feel a sense of great achievement to have produced a fabric of this thickness on the Hattersley.  Now available for AW projects.  Please contact me for details.

Also new on the scene, and using the same warp as the L/W version of the boucle, is this amazing bubbly effect.  It is along similar lines to the Waveprint cloth we were producing a couple of years ago, but in this the wavy effect goes from side to side, producing a gorgeous textured effect.

Though it's 100% pure linen, the hand-finishing has left it soft and flexible.  Great to drape.  Warm and cosy.
And a close up just to show that it is a really most unusual looking cloth - all done without the aid of any man-made fibres or fancy finishing techniques!

We are hoping to produce in a range of colours including whites for weddings and for dyeing.
Also interesting to see what Hebridean Felt mades of Nuno'ing it!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

After a trip to the mill we have two more Harris Tweeds available.
The first is a six shuttle, six colour one which I did just to make sure I still could!!  Now I don't usually make traditional sorts of tweeds but this one is quite nice, even to my jaundiced eye!  It has an autumnal aura about it and would make very natty ladies jackets, perhaps worn with a dark blue skirt.
The other tweed is the girly pink one which seems to have taken me forever to get woven, finished and then collected.  Anyway it's here now so if you are a pink tweed fiend then let me know.
Incidentally, this is a 13cut tweed and the pink is the old Mackenzies mill  pink which is softer and less "coral" shaded than Shawbost. 
Both are single width twill and £20 per metre as usual plus postage if we need to send it to you.
As always these tweeds are non-repeatable.
In other news. Lambs growing up, cuckoos are here.  We are enjoying the new BBC1 series "Hebrides - islands on the edge" though it was rather full of geese last week!  For those in the UK who want to watch, it's on I-player.
The sheep go onto summer grazings this weekend so the dogs are limbering up in the sun!
Weather just glorious today, but probably not tomorrow. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Just tying in a warp which is destined to be floor runners.  It is a lovely worsted yarn with a fine nylon binder, twisted very firmly so it makes a great warp.
I've sleyed one end per dent, so it's a quick one to warp, draft and tie-in, which makes a change from the linen.

The weft is a very unusual beige boucle wool from Andrew at Northbank Mills..
This is fun on the pirn winder and also in the shuttles, but finishes beautifully.
Good News in the offing - we are hoping to re-launch the Hattersley Loom Club with a virtual spares shed for all bits of Hattersley Mark 1 and 2.  The web-site will be moving to a new platform very soon.  So keep your eyes peeled for more details.
Having trouble keeping my mind on work today - it's such lovely weather.  It's been so dry here that muirburning has been a bit of a nightmare business this year.  The fire service have put a stop to in for now as they have had so many calls out.
So here's a picture of the view from my loomshed taken about half an hour ago.
If your weather is not quite so good, my sympathies are with you. 

Saturday, 30 March 2013

    Some folk have been complaining that they haven't seen any new lambs on the croft yet.  Well, here are a bunch.  It's not been a bad year so far - the weather has been glorious.  Dry, sunny but cold days have been with us for several weeks now.  When it does rain the lambs won't know what it is!

This little lamb was just born today.  Already healthy and happy.
Here she is again with her mum.
And, same as last year, to the same mother, a set of twins - one black and one white.  This time both are females.
And finally the gentleman who is responsible for many of this year's lambs.  Our cheviot ram.  We have had him on the croft for a couple of years and are now looking for a new home for him for next tupping season.  He's about five years old and is a happy chappy and a good worker.  Any interest, give me a shout!
A gentle reminder to everyone who may be considering walking on land that is used for grazing during the year.  Please do remember to close gates behind you.  Most people are very careful but just occasionally they forget and my gorgeous pedigree Zwartbles ram who we thought was safe in the apportionment behind the croft has gone missing because people walked through the apportionment and left the gate to the apportionment and the gate to the grazings open.  It's really sad, not just the financial value of him, but that he was going to be the start of my Hebridean/Zwartbles cross flock.  We have our fingers crossed that he may turn up but there are so many dangers on the common grazings that we fear he may have come to harm.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Hope all our Blog Friends had a happy Christmas!
Here is Tuppy our ram celebrating in the only way he knows how - a mouthful of hay.

And, here is the first picture of my "new" loom from Uist.  Well, bits of it laid out on the floor.  Spent a jolly few hours the other day scraping layers of wool bits off some of the parts.  Sorry the pic is a bit blurry, my hand must have been shaking with the excitement!
Also, I see that Bramble got in on the act.
This is my latest warp - a girly pink Harris Tweed one.  Not my favourite colour, but it will be going for doggy coats so no doubt it will look very cute. 
We're all looking forward to a good 2013 here at Scalpay Linen.  With the new loom starting to take shape, lambing in April, some more teaching on the horizon, a new season to look forward to and of course the endless speculation as to whether Gandalf is really wearing our linen (it certainly looks like it to us), it could be that 12 months just won't be enough to cram in what we have planned!
If anyone is hoping to visit our workshop during the season, we will be open April to September but I will post dates when we know we will not be around. 
I am also hoping to be able to organise spinning classes for anyone who might be thinking of handspinning as a way of supplementing their income.  It will probably be in the Stornoway area and probably in the springtime.  So if you're interested, please let me know.