From Harris we drove up to Tarbert and over the bridge to the island of Scalpay to visit Sheila Roderick and John Finlay Feguson at croft #37. Scalpay island has 40 crofts in all. Sheila and John have been farming here for 30 years. The farm goes back in their family to 1890. To make a living, the industrious couple have 100 lobster creels, 40 Hebredian black sheep, a flock of ducks, guineas, chickens and raise turkeys for the Christmas market. The photos show a Hebredian lamb and ram and also the end result of the spun fleece. On of the travelers, Doreen, purchased some of the fleece and was clever enough to have brought along a drop spindle. She started spinning that this very afternoon!
Just down the road in Tarbert we visited Terry, a current Harris Tweed weaver. Today, weavers have to complete a weaving course to prove their skill and competancy before going to work for the industry. There are 150-200 weavers on the island that supply the industry weaving on Bonas Griffeth double wide looms that are driven with a pedals like a bicycle. Due to some politics with the newish owners of the mill in Stornoway, there has not been any warps given out to tweed weavers for several months now. And then there is the issue of how to keep tweed fabric in the eyes of the fashion industry. Read more about the history of the industry at http://www.harristweed.org/
Winding our way back to Leverburgh via the Golden Road, we happened upon Katie Campbell's studio and shop in Plochropol, Harris Tweed and Knitwear. Katie has been weaving tweed for over 40 years. She and her sister grew up at the foot of their father who was also a tweed weaver. "Grannie had 11 girls who all spun. My mom died young. There were 4 of us girls and Dad bought a Hattersly Loom. We went to sleep to the click clack of the loom. It was lovely. It was safe." Katie and her daughter keep two Hattersly looms humming along turning out colorful contemporary and traditionl tweed cloth. Besides yardage for sale, they have their fabric sewn into caps, backpacks, handbags, jackets, teddy bears, etc. http://www.harristweedandknitwear.co.uk/family.html
We capped off our 2 days on the islands with a celebration at Rodel Hotel. http://www.rodelhotel.co.uk/ Donnie and Dena MacDonald have converted a former school into a hotel and restaurant where fresh and simply prepared local fare is served. The seafood, some hand dived for just down the road, was the best we have eaten on the trip, as Jan's face concurs.