A podcast for people who love knitting, Dorset Buttons, creativity & Scotland, especially the Highlands & Islands.
Welcome to the 18th episode of my podcast – The Power of Craft – Togetherness & Loss
Thank you for listening again or welcome if you are a first time listener.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been incredibly fortunate to go to some fantastic wool related events where I’ve met some wonderful people. The title of this episode reflects how craft & a shared interest has brought me together with people I otherwise would not have met. And while we may not always physically be together technology enables us to continue to be in touch.
Crafting is also a powerful tool that enables us to be in the moment with the physical action of using our hands often helping in troubled times. This episode concludes talking about an art exhibition project of sawdust hearts based on military pin cushions from WW1. Originally made by servicemen, civilians & in particular wounded soldiers as part of their occupational therapy, this was a powerful process in connecting to loved ones as well as contributing to their mental wellness.
The wind & the rain continue to batter us & we’ve had our first snow at ground level! Despite the high winds winter is a time of year I love & we’ve been treated to amazing colourful skies, rainbows & crisp dry days.
We catch up on progress with my Belmont Cardigan which is proving a little tricky at the moment!
i chat about my purchases from Shetland Wool Week which were very few.
I did however buy the conference wool at Uist which is destined to become a sleeveless over top. Called Tuath which is Gaelic for North it is made up of Hebridean, Stay, Boreray, North Ronaldsay, Manx Loaghton, Shetland, Faroese, Villsau, Icelandic & Gotland.
A few purchases were made at Yarnporium – some beautiful green yarn from RiverKnits who live & work on a narrowboat & only dye British Wool. I got a Knit & Gin pin from Sue Stratford who now has a Pin Badge Club for Knitters. I got a wool wash bar from Fay of Knit It Hook It Craft It & lastly Carol Feller’s book Echoes of Heather & Stone from the This is Knit stand. A select few things.
The other new project on my needles is my gansey from the gansey course with Yasmin at Island At The Edge here on Skye. I had a great fun filled 3 days with Yasmin & Lenore & Nola seen in the photo at the top of this post, sister-in-laws from Australia. This will be a much longer term project – a full jumper on 2.5mm needles!
I give you the highlights of my trip to the Uists, in the Outer Hebrides, back in September for the North Atlantic Native Sheep & Wool Conference.
Louise Scollay of Knit British Episode 110 captures a great round up of all the speakers including some audio.
An opportunity to meet a variety of people – crofters, farmers, makers, business people from all over the world as well as from the Outer Hebrides.
The first day focused on Sheep & the Habitat where we heard from the Hebridean Sheep Society, Meg Rodger of The Birlinn Yarn Company, Scottish Natural Heritage, Renske van den Tempel from Texel & Daniel Hansen from Iceland who runs the Leadership Information Centre.
The afternoon saw us visit South Uist visiting the Hebridean Jewellery workshop & crofter Martin Jamieson with his Hebridean flock.
The Kildonan museum consists of fascinating exhibits that showcase the social, domestic & cultural history of South Uist. At Eriskay we met a couple of ladies who knit these beautiful detailed Eriskay jerseys.
And the day finished at the Hebridean Woolshed & Big Garden.
Day 2 focused on Sheep & Working Life. Speakers were Sue Blacker of Blacker Yarns & The Natural Fibre Company, Dorothea Jensen a farmer from the Faroe Islands & Joanna Spreadbury. I had particularly been looking forward to Joanna’s talk on her project exploring the Scottish Blackface sheep & possible practical & creative uses for the whole sheep. Listen in to hear about the items she made which are shown below.
We hear about Netty Sopata, a traditional Kilt Maker, & her business on Lewis, Diggory Brown
And Donald MacSween a crofter from Lewis who runs Air An Lot & has a BBC Alba programme gave us a great insight into the challenges & ideas to make crofting sustainable today.
Finally we heard from Louise who focused on Be the change – love local wool.
The trip in the afternoon included a tour of Uist Mill & Centre by Hazel the mill manager, tea & cake at the Grimsay Community Centre, a visit to the Balranald RSPB nature reserve & visiting Andrew Ross & his soay sheep on Berneray.
Our final day saw us go to Lewis & Harris. Order books at the Lewis Loom Centre!
There was also a visit to the Northton visitor centre & to see a Harris Tweed worker, Rebecca Hutton. And fortunately for me time to pop into the Harris Gin Distillery to have a taster & buy a bottle!
A stimulating, informative conference bringing together people working across a wide range of businesses with sheep at the core.
I chat about Shetland Wool Week & being there for work which included being interviewed by Fruity Knitting, which has just been released on YouTube. Thank you to everyone who has connected with me & bought from my online shop off the back of this.
I chat about my workshops, the Makers Market & the surprise meet up with Norma at the Opening Ceremony who orchestrated my introduction to Dorset Buttons.
Geraint & I made it up to Unst to visit the Heritage Centre, the Boat Haven & Victoria’s Vintage Tea Room. And a trip to Unst meant a visit to the Unst Bus Shelter, this year themed to mark the 100 years since women have had the vote in the UK.
Next year is the 10th anniversary of Shetland Wool Week – maybe see you there!
This weekend I will be at BaaWool running a Dorset Button workshop & a trunk show, followed by a couple of local Christmas Craft Fairs.
For those of you planning on visiting Skye over the next few months I alert you to changes happening at the Broadford Coop & fuel station.
Across The Bridge
An interview with Helen Birmingham of Untangled Threads who has curated an art exhibition project called 1,568 sawdust hearts. This project saw Helen make 1,568 sawdust hearts which were then bought by people who created their own sweetheart pincushions & sent them back to Helen. This exhibition is to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day on 11 November 2018. Read the full details of the project, see a virtual tour of the exhibition & the commemorative booklet containing photos of every heart, that is for sale.
Money is also being raised through this for the charity Combat Stress.
The heart Helen has used on all the posters & books.
The powerful Gillies & Tonks heart.
Cabinet with original military pincushions with some of the cushions above received for this project.
I have more photos & more to write about this so will be doing a separate blog post on it in a few days.
A long episode that captures just some of the togetherness I’ve experienced through craft over the past couple of months. As well as a poignant reminder of how powerful crafting can be at times of loss.
Til next time . . .
Music – the music is:
One Frog For a Prince, by Ron Patton & licensed from Melody Loops.
Bye for now.