Artist Anne Campbell has kindly donated a fleece from her sheep Bàn which I hope to be able to spin and make a piece of work from.
I have been told that sheep have an innate sense of the moor so it seems only right to use materials with association with the bog and its social history. Fellow Tir mo Rùin artist Anne Campbell has been gathering a beautiful glossary of gaelic terms associated with the moor. I particularly like this one about sheep returning to the moor.
‘astar, sheep will always return to the area of moor in which they spent their first summer. This is called their astar or innis.’
I managed to contact Barvas Spinning group and Rhoda kindly did a mailout to members to see if anyone was up for spinning Bàn’s lovely coat. Margaret from the group was up for the challenge so watch this space for further news of Bàn home spun wool.
While on Lewis, (with the help of Mary Smith) I travelled to Ness to visit Callum MacLean at Butt of Lewis Textiles . It took us a while to find his house and anonymous weaving shed and we had to stop and ask crofters,who were in the process of shearing a sheep, for directions. He was working in the mill but his wife kindly showed us around his weaving shed . I naively thought I may be able to commission a piece of tweed or collaborate with Callum but he is so busy with mill orders and working both at Carloway mill and at his weaving shed at home that it was not possible. However I did buy a beautiful piece of dark tweed which I hope to embroider for the project. It is fantastic to hear that weavers on Lewis are busy and that their skills and wonderful tweeds are in demand.
The growth in demand has ensured there’s also a demand for more weavers. At present, there are about 150 self-employed islanders who weave at their homes. Most are in Lewis. There are a further 125 people working in the three Lewis mills and at the Harris Tweed Authority, set up by law to protect its status. Most of the weavers supply the mills, while a few are independent, designing their own fabrics, often for the craft market. Twenty-two young islanders have been put through a training course, and more are being sought. One of the graduates is Heather MacLeod, 22, from Tarbert on Harris. She is the granddaughter of a weaver, and observes: “There’s a need for younger weavers to take up the trade. “There’s a lot of people going back to doing home industries – candle-making, soap-making. These are companies that are thriving just now and everybody is looking for things that are hand-made and home-made. It’s coming back, and there are plenty opportunities for people.
Harris tweed weaving a brighter future BBC news.
Butt of Lewis Textiles weaves Harris Tweed and designs and produces unique tweeds to bespoke design. All stages of tweed preparation and weaving is made by hand. The bobbins are used to warp the tweed first of all. The warp being handmade to ready a tweed for the loom. After the design of the tweed has been decided on, the warp is put on a beam then the threads (700 threads for the 75cm, 1400 for the 150cm) are knotted one by one by hand. This has to be double checked for perfection of the pattern of the tweed before the weaving of the cloth begins.
Once woven, the tweed has to be finished, washed, scoured, then dried in a special machine and given a blown finished if required. In the case of Harris Tweed the cloth will then be stamped with the world famous Orb mark to certify that it is genuine