Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Isle of Lewis - another weaving visit

I am once again visiting the island - here to see my mother and to do some more weaving.
Last time I was here I took the plunge and decided to re-thread my loom. I had managed to get the reed (beater) re-threaded by the time I left, but had still to thread the heddles. I have now got them all threaded and about two thirds of the warp tied in. It will only be when I start weaving that I know whether I have got the sequence right.

The weather here has been considerably better than in many other parts of Scotland. Yesterday we had lovely warm sunshine all day, with only a gentle breeze.

However, I didn't get the chance to enjoy it yesterday as I spent the day at my loom. Today was a different matter. I had several orders to deliver and tweed to collect from Carloway so I took the car and headed over to the west coast. First stop was Morven Gallery which opens for the season next weekend. Janis was delighted with the selection of wall hangings that I had taken. From there I headed to Shawbost where I purchased a good selection of plain tweeds. Next stop was the Blue Pig Studio where Jane selected several wall hangings and some bags. Jane is an artist who paints lovely pictures, many featuring her favourite birds - oystercatchers. She also makes interesting cards and prints.
By this time it was lunchtime so I headed to Calanais to the visitor centre at the standing stones to make my final delivery - hats, scarves, bags and our ever popular Hebridean Hoods - and have lunch.
As it was such a lovely day and I was not in a hurry, I took the time to visit the two smaller stone circles. I have seen the from the road too many times to count, but had never taken the time to get up close. The first circle has just five large stones still standing, but is still impressive. From there it was just a few minutes walk across some rather boggy moor to the second circle which is actually a double circle. The stones are a bit smaller, but there are more of them.

For some reason, I didn't finish this post.  It is now May and since my last visit in have been to China and back.  I am now back on the Isle of Lewis and have been really busy for the last few days.  I have been weaving much of the time, but this morning I got up early and painted the yarn store. The sun only shines at the back of the house early in the morning or late in the evening.  It took two hours but the shed is now fully painted.
After that it was back to the loom and by late afternoon I had managed to finish the tweed......  Well, almost finished it.  I had about 2 metres of a 44 metre warp left when I had something of a catastrophe!  A sudden snap and one of the heddle boards stopped moving.  Investigation showed that it had come unhooked at the bottom.  I hooked it up again and did a few more passes of the shuttle and then there was a much louder bang.  This time, the bar at the bottom of the board had snapped in two.  I decided that it would be much easier to replace the bar once the tweed was off the loom, so sacrificed the last of the warp and cut off the tweed.  I will take it to Carloway Mill tomorrow for finishing and stamping.  Repairs to the loom are underway and it will be ready to put on the next warp before I head back to the mainland in a couple of days.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Photo Session - supposed to be spring!

I had several things that I wanted to photograph.  Since it is now officially spring and my granddaughters were free this morning to do some modelling for me, we headed out to Clava Cairns a few miles from Inverness.

It was a biting cold wind, reasonably bright, but no evidence that spring is anywhere near, other than that the primulas in the planter at the front door of the studio are in full bloom.

Clava Cairns are ancient stone burial chambers quite close to Culloden Battlefield.  They were built around the same time as the Egyptian pyramids.  There are three large cairns and they are ringed with standing stones.  There are also lovely trees all around, so it makes a good venue for photographing our wares.  For more information about the site, click here. It is an unmanned site, free to enter and managed by Historic Scotland - well worth a visit if you are in the area.

We took with us several of our ever popular Hebridean Hoods and our Wide Embroidered Wraps, plus a selection of bags, purses, hats and scarves.  The girls are now old enough and tall enough (ages 14 and almost 16) to be really good, co-operative models, but still young enough to enjoy running around and playing.  Lauren decided to climb a tree with this muff purse!  

After an hour or two of photography, we were quite chilled and it was time to take the girls back into town for their skating practice.  They are off soon with their team for the Scottish championships.  I then headed out to the studio to catch up on work.  Since I came home, I have spent the evening going through the photographs, putting some of them on the website, updating some pages and changing pictures.

I hope this selection give you a flavour of what our morning was like.

Lauren wearing a Maggie hat - Harris Tweed bucket style hat with polycotton lining.

Rachel wearing our most popular style - Morag.   We were not the only people to think it cold today - some ladies came into the studio this afternoon and two of them bought Morag hats - to put on right away!

At the end of our session I asked the girls to choose their favourite thing and I photographed them together - they both chose a Hebridean Hood.  These short capes are made with Harris Tweed, have large hoods that are lined with polar fleece, trimmed with real sheepskin and fasten with a single large hand-made button.
The green one is tweed that I wove myself - a lovely herringbone pattern with a subtle striped look. I used the same warp to produce several different shades of green by varying the weft colours.  You can see a different variation in an earlier post - click here.  Below, you see the girls inside the chamber of the largest cairn - sheltering from the cold wind.

In this picture, Rachel is wrapped up in one of our wide embroidered wraps - this one stitched with a metallic bronze coloured thread on a brown/olive herringbone tweed - a wonderfully warm extra layer that looks equally good whether teamed with denims or a silk ballgown.