At 8am, we are already on the ferry and at 8:20 in Sconser, on the Isle of Skye. The weather is beautiful and the bright emanations of the sun behind the hills can be seen. Today, we go to the west of Skye to discover crafters.
The weavers of Glendale
These crafters live and work at the end of a country road, hidden in a valley. We are welcomed as we have not been on Skye, it’s a real pleasure. The owner invites us immediately to follow him in a small wooden house and there it is! A huge loom takes up almost the entire room. It is very impressive. They bought it on the Isle of Lewis which is in the Outer Hebrides, up north, after Skye. This loom was used to make the famous Harris Tweed. A great highlight is that it works with pedals 🙂 It is actually an original feature as it is an obligation when making trademarked Harris Tweed. I had the chance to test it, you have to put some strength in it!
The mechanism is magic, everything operates like a majestic show. Aw, the industrial revolution! If only it had stopped at that 😍. Fortunately, there are people who continue traditional craftsmanship. Fortunately, there are people who purchase such craftsmen’s treasures. Unfortunately, it is more tempting for the majority of people to run at H&M and pay for a Harris-style jacket made by an unkown person, in an unkown location, with unknown materials that are undustrially made we do not know how, chemical dyes, child hands, pollutions of all kinds. Well, I am asking myself questions and choices seem to have to be taken. Why are not all brands respectful of the earth and the human life? Idealist fool that I am. But I trully hope to put all this into practice soon. However, this kind of product are way more expensive. So, we should have less but of a better long lasting quality? It seems to be a wise choice, very common sense and completely outside of this ugly society of consumerism!
We talk with the weaver and exchange about crafts and others crafters. He advises us to go see a lady who has sheeps and spin her own wool from them, even writes the name of the sheep onto the yarn package! Her place is called Dragonfly Studio. We’re leaving right away as another family is coming.
To discover all the stages of this family manufacture, to see exactly where they are located or to buy their beautiful scarves, ponchos, ties or bags, visit their very well done and complete website: www.skyeweavers.co.uk
We take the road backwards to return to Dunvegan – there is the castle that we also want to see. The way for the studio is easy to spot on our way back. We park and a lady comes to welcome us from afar, she is jovial! Oh what a pleasure! Two nice people in one day. I say that because to be honest, we were not necessarily very well received on Skye, not badly received either, just rather neutral, not too many smiles and it breaks our heart like Fredo to his brother Michael. The rational explanation would be that the month of October is the end of the tourist season and people may be fed up with tourists?
Ann is the crafter behind the studio. She raises sheeps, she harvests their wool, she processes it, she spins, she crochets, she knits, she weaves, she felt, she sew, oh yes she does all! The fiber arts are multiple! She and her husband Richard moved here from England about fifteen years ago. Their 19 year old daughter followed them. They bought a property and years after years, the rest of their family moved one by one on Skye too. A beautiful reunion, what a lucky family! It makes me long for just the same 😍. Meanwhile, to keep the dream alive, the two work here and there while doing what they love, the fibers for her and the wood for him – he was in real estate in his other life. Their daugther has become a tanner and now their son – who is married with kids – has taken over the farm. They would not want to leave their paradise for nothing and we understand them all too well, a beautiful country side, amazing landscapes, no noise, the silence is there, it’s magic.
Here are some Ann’s pictures
When Ann talks about her crafts, we can feel her passion and her joy. And what we like even more is her way of wanting to share that knowledge that she has been cultivating since childhood. She has this desire, this need to transmit. Ann teaches in her studio directly or in bigger rooms when for exemple, a groups of United-States women land on the island and want to learn wool felting. She also works with her husband Richard as he makes wood spindles – that can be taken everywhere 🙂 – and other wood beauties such as plates and tableware. In her studio, you can buy wool already spun, washed wool or not and dyed or not, for spining or felting, she also sells crochet, knitted or waved clothes and bags and also accessories such as jewelry. She sells her cousin’s drawings as well as her acrylic paintings, yes a complete craftswoman/artist. I ask her if I could stay for a while at her house! She smiles. Take a look at her page (link), she is so talented!
Here is her interview:
Ann, why did you choose to the fiber arts?
I love many crafts but playing with wool is my favourite. I find it especially rewarding taking the raw fleece from our own flock of sheep and going through all the processes and ending up with a product that can be used in so many ways. We turn it into roving for spinning and felting or I spin it into wool for knitting. I also have great fun dyeing some of the fleece with plants that I collect from the farm.
Do you remember the first thing you create as a child?
I recall making very basic outfits for my Sindy doll! I also used to make soft toys, frogs and mice were my favourites.
When did you realise that you wanted to devote your life to crafts and come to live on Skye?
It was a long time dream to have a small holding where I could keep a few animals and grow my own vegetables. When our children had finished their education we decided to have a lifestyle change, it was a huge leap of faith, but we did it! Crafts have always been such a big part of my life and being able to keep sheep was the icing on the cake for me……..more wool!!!
How it is to work with your husband every day?
It has been great working with my husband, we work as a team. Some jobs run smoother than others!!! Plus he has his own workshop and I have mine!! We both take an interest in each other’s work.
How many sheeps do you have? Is it hard to care for them? Do you have other animals?
At the moment we have a flock of 23 sheep, mainly Shetlands with some cross breeds as they are kept for their wool. At the moment we have a lovely Gotland ram, he has a beautiful grey, silky fleece. We also have geese, two are rare Sebastopol geese, they look like they are wearing a ballerinas tutu!! We also have chickens and pigs. Our son has now taken over the running of the farm but we still like to be hands on. It also gives us more time to be creative.
Do you have any advice for people who have never done crafts and want to start?
My advice to people who want to try out crafts is have a go! We all have to begin somewhere, don’t expect to be producing perfect work as soon as you begin, but enjoy the process of learning something new and enjoy it! We all see and do things differently, as far as I am concerned there is no right or wrong way. If you work to get the results that please you, you are doing a good job!
What is the job you are most proud of?
I am proud of a double bed size patchwork quilt that I made over a period of fifteen years! It is made up of small hexagons, made from scraps of material that came from my families old clothes. It has scraps from the little dress that my bridesmaid wore, my maternity smocks, my children’s clothes and so on. Every single stitch has been hand sewn, made during snatched moments like waiting for my children to come out of school, waiting at swimming lessons, for exemple. If you are serious about crafting you will find the time!
I have never run out of ideas….yet!!! I usually have more than one project on the go and I never ever have enough hours in the day. My brain is always thinking of creative ways to use different items that I squirrel away, I save all sorts of odd things… the small coloured nets from fruit, coloured foil from chocolates…..all just waiting for that next idea! Happy crafting.
The castle of Dunvegan
After these two beautiful meetings with the crafters, we went to see the castle of Dunvegan. It was rather austere the castle of the MacLeods clan. I was surely disappointed not to see the last of the highlanders 😂 (the series with Adrian Paul and the movies of course with Christopher Lambert). Rah .. We saw the interior of the castle (£ 13 per person – link here) which was very well decorated but not many part were opened to the public. Still we were able to see some good crafters pieces. We also did the gardens, oh the gardens, it was really beautiful. Beautifully decorated, we wandered in a fairy tale, several gardens, several moods and several styles.
We came home loaded with yarns! Projects to be seen soon, I hope 🙂 It was great meating these crafters!
Love ❤︎❣❤︎ C
Error: No feed found.
Please go to the Instagram Feed settings page to create a feed.