Ooops! I sort of fell off of the blog wagon this week. Earlier in the week I received an e-mail that detailed some reduced air fares, which, when combined with the boredom of a very gray late February, made me start to think of potential summer vacations. Unfortunately, I mis-read the rates and thought they were a much better deal than they actually were, so I guess I won’t be flying anywhere this summer. ;-(
I had to console myself by looking through some pictures from our last trip to Scotland. And, just in case you’re a knitter and you happen to be planning a trip to Scotland this summer (the dollar is doing much better against the GBP now than it was last fall!) I thought you might like to see a fun knitterly place to visit.
This is Shilasdair on the Isle of Skye. Shilasdair is a small yarn studio known for their yarn dying. The shop is in a pretty little rock building, in a very small village with spectacular views of the water, off of the northern end of the Isle of Skye. We were greeted by the owner, Eva. (Oops, I didn’t get a picture, but there’s one on her website.)
Above, you can see the gorgeous view just beyond the shop.
Just to the left of the shop is the dye garden where Eva grows plants that make the dyes. All of the dyes are natural but surprisingly, the yarn does not come from the Isle of Skye (despite all the grazing sheep!) Eva said that Isle of Skye wool is very coarse and 95% of it is shipped to I-can’t-remember-where in central Europe to be used in things like mattresses.
Most of my pictures from the dye room didn’t turn out very well. It’s a pretty small room, but there are giant dye vats and places to hang the yarn to dry. Eva said that all of their dye colors come from 3 plants and 1 insect and combinations of those 4 items. Bowls containing the three plant samples are in the bottom left-hand corner of the above picture with the dye vats. The insect, cochineal, is shown in the right-hand picture, above. (As always, all pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them.) Eva explained the process to us and it was very interesting. I think TheManoftheHouse even had a good time.
Some pictures of the pretty yarn. I bought some blue yarn and I spent a long time debating whether to get wool or cotton. I got cotton and after we drove away, I wanted to slap myself upside the head — who goes to Scotland to buy cotton yarn? In my defense, I think I was overcome by visual stimulation and couldn’t think straight. The colors were sooooo beautiful. And to make matters worse, I’m thinking the yarn I ended up with wasn’t even dyed by Eva. She does sell some yarns that are dyed elsewhere. So, I struck out on two counts! (But don’t tell TheManoftheHouse — I’m sure he was wondering why it was so hard for me to figure out what yarn I wanted. There was a gorgeous red yarn that almost sucked me in too.)
These were some sweaters for sale hanging on the wall. Some were for sale and some were available in kits. You could also have a sweater made in a different size than the samples shown.
This is a picture of the shop while standing with my back to the front door, shown in the first picture of this post. This one room is it…the whole shop. In the middle of the wall on the right (just in front of that blue-green sweater hanging up so high) is the door that leads to the dying room.
The shop may be small, but it was very inspiring and well worth the trip. (The only way it could have been better would have been if there were quilts. Oh, and maybe some guy in a kilt!) And besides, the drive to get there and the scenery are spectacular. Lots of little one lane roads and sheepies everywhere! I hope you get to go there someday!
We’re having high winds and thunderstorms as I type, which is just creepy in February. I hope the weather is better where you are!