Uist Wool

Here is a fun little video about the Uist Wool Project, where they use restored carding and spinning machines from the 19th Century and the 1950’s.  The Project is hoping to encourage weaving in the Uists and it has already produced some yarns that have been used in making Uist tweeds.

Shetland Wool

Aalmerk Organic Native Shetland Yarn
Aalmerk Organic Native Shetland Yarn

 

I am loving wool today.  I do enjoy knitting and although I am not as diligent as I could be about it, I will pull some knitting out once in a while and have a go at it.  I’ve been knitting since I was a kid, on and off, and I come from a line of knitters.  I remember my mum knitting doll’s clothes when I was a kid and I remember my grandmother knitting.

I do appreciate a good ball of wool though.  We have a little wool shop up the street from where I live and sometimes I will go in just for a look.  I have great dreams of what I will knit but when it actually comes down to it, I don’t really make enough time for it.

There’s lovely baby yarn and then the wonderfully thick wool that just cries “Cardy!”.  The other great thing is that the ladies who work there have this wooden kitchen-size table in the middle of the shop and they sit around knitting while I am shopping.  Not a bad gig.  Get caught up on the knitting while working.

I started by saying about loving wool today.  The reason being that I found a couple of blogs … yes, from Shetland, which seems to be a recurring theme of mine these days … and they are worth a look if you enjoy a bit of a knit yourself.

 

JS_KnitRealShetland

 

The first is the Christmas blog from Jamieson and Smith and it features knitting kits for Fair Isle caps and jumpers.  The second is a blog from Kate Davies Designs where she shows us her fabulous puffin-inspired knitting.  If you like puffins, you will probably love this blog.  The colors that she has used are so bright and bold, just like what you think of when you think of a puffin.

 

large-Atlantic-Puffin-photo wwf

Skye Weavers

 

6th of December …. open house with mulled wine, minced pies and German ginger bread.  That’s how we’ll start off here.  I was so excited to find Skye Weavers with their beautiful scarves, wraps and other assorted textiles. Absolutely gorgeous work on the Isle of Skye.

 

 

Their loom is bicycle pedal-powered and they produce woollen products as well as tweed lengths and garments such as cushion covers, bags and accessories.  Roger and Andrea, who own and operate Skye Weavers, are ”passionate about the need to preserve the knowledge and quality associated with Scottish tweeds and garments”.  All the products are hand-woven and sewn on the Isle of Skye and they endeavour to use UK materials and packaging as much as possible.

In February 2012, Roger and Andrea moved from the Isle of Mull to Skye, where they set up their business in an old family croft house in Glendale.  Both of them were inspired to begin the weaving company from previous working experience on an organic farm and weaving mill on Mull.

Three important components to Skye Weavers are a bicycle pedalled loom, brought from the Isle of Lewis and previously used to make tweed; secondly, a hand-operated warping mill, built from the wheels of a Massey-Harris tractor rake and thirdly, a sewing room.

 

 

Skye Weaver’s new scarf series is inspired by the different colors of bird’s plumage and are woven from 100% pure new lambswool at a generous length of 6 feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea says, “When we first heard of pedal looms being used on the Outer Isles to weave Harris Tweed, we were immediately intrigued.  What a great way to produce fabric: carbon neutral, clean, quiet, potentially pretty fast, and a good workout, as many people have pointed out to us.”

I haven’t seen the products first-hand but I am impressed by the quality in the photos and by their website in general.  I like that they are conscious of the environment and of preserving Scottish weaving traditions.  All the information and pictures here are from the Skye Weaver’s website.  Please drop by their site and check out all their fine products or better yet, drop by on December 6th for some mulled wine and have a look at their weaving workshop.

 

 

A little creativity

 

With all the fabulous information I have been getting recently on wool and textiles, I thought I would take these books out from the library.  The “Fleece and Fiber” book is more of a what’s what in the wool world.  It explains about different kinds of animals that the wool comes from and how it’s processed.  “The Knitter’s Book of Wool” is a bit more fun in that it does describe where the wool comes from and how it’s made but it also uses about half the book to give some wonderful patterns.  Skill levels are set for each project … easy, intermediate and experienced.  There is everything from the “Hill Country Hat” (Easy) to the “Comfy Cardigan” (also easy and very appealing) and “Cabin Socks” (intermediate) with the “Prairie Rose Lace Shawl, which is more of an “Experienced” level.  I particularly liked the patterns for the “The Three Bears Pullovers” … Mama, Papa and naturally, Baby Bear.  Mummy Bear and Baby have some rib to their pullovers while Daddy’s is just a straight knit with lovely Icelandic Lopi yarn.

 

 

I have become quite enamored with some of the Scottish artists, in particular those who paint island scenes.  I was thrilled to find a little shop in Oban that sold lots of the prints that I like.  Unfortunately, I am not independently wealthy so I was reduced to buying blank cards with the pictures on the front for 3 pounds each.  I was still enormously pleased with my purchases and when I got home, I went to Ikea and found myself this frame, in which I have promptly deposited my lovely cards.  I hope you like the result.  The pictures in order (left side, going downwards) are Pam Carter’s “Plockton Shores”, “Dyke to the Holding” and Rowena Laing’s “Scottish Hill Farm”.  On the right side, going downwards once more, Rowena Laing’s “Harvest Moon” and Pam Carter’s “Sheets to the Wind” and “The Wee Harbour Plockton”.

 

 

At this point, I need to give much credit to my friend Christine from Writing from Scotland as she was the one who began my journey into the world of Scottish artists with John Lowrie Morrison.  Christine kindly sent me a desk calendar last year which has now become another framed assortment of pictures on my wall.  This second frame is full of only JoLoMo pictures and I’m hoping you’ll forgive me for not writing all 12 pictures down.  I do have their names if you want to message me and I can give them to you.

I am enjoying my new paintings on the wall immensely and it makes me feel a little closer to the coast of Scotland.  I did also find an Art Greeting Cards site that sells prints of these artists and hopefully that will be helpful if you decide you want to get any of them. 🙂

Burra Bears

These are some of the most adorable little bears.  I have just come across them through Twitter (@BurraBears) and I had to share them with you.

Wendy Inkster made her first Shetland teddy bear in 1997 for her sister.   Her thought was  to recycle an entire handknitted Fair Isle patterned Shetland woollen jumper into a bear and as a result of the tremendous response, she began a business making these lovely little fellas.

For more information, you can check out her website, where I got these photos of her bears. She also makes Burra Bear cards. 🙂