18 April. From Tarbert we drove over the bridge to the island of Scalpay. The village has a public toilet that has a most lovely view.
We visit Sheila Roderick and John Finlay Ferguson at croft #37. Scalpay island has 40 crofts in all and only 3 are being farmed today. Sheila and John have been farming here for 33 years.
|Sheila Roderick and John Finlay Ferguson at Croft #37|
|When not working on the croft, John is also volunteer firefighter|
|Warp wound on a horizontal warping reel|
|Samples of linen cloth woven over the winter|
|Mary models a cap Sheila knit with her handspun yarn|
We journey to the Outer Hebrides because this is the land of Harris Tweed. The definition of Harris Tweed: made from the wool of Scottish sheep, spun in the Outer Hebrides, woven by hand, and finished in the Outer Hebrides. When the potato famine hit Scotland 1845-47, Lady Dunmore took the tweed the islanders were weaving, traveled the world, marked up the price twenty times and came back and gave the weaver all the profit.
Harris tweed became famous worldwide and the demand kept growing. Originally the tweed was naturally dyed. Crotal, a lichen, gave light to dark rusty color. Spinning mills came in 1907 and all the yarn was then aniline dyed. In 1926, the Hattersley Loom greatly increased the productivity of the weavers. The looms had hands free flying shuttle mechanisms and were powered by stepping alternately on two pedals. This is the loom you see Roddy, weaver at Gearranen Blackhouse Village, weaving on as we stepped into the past.
|Roddy has been weaving for over 50 years|
|Gearannen Blackhouse Village|
|Peat covers the island but requires backbreaking labor to benefit from the glowing warmth it produces when burned|
|Gearrannen slopes down to the Atlantic|
|Dun Carloway Broch|
|Cathy and Margaret between the double walls of the broch|
|Margaret Curtis, local archeologist|
|Callenish Standing Stones, Isle of Lewis|
Much of her research has involved the location of the moon on it’s yearly path and how the moon aligns with certain stones. The sun alignment also enters into the story of the stones on summer solstice and vernal equinox. However, Margaret doesn’t think the sun alignment was as important at this formation as the moon.
|A window created by the positioning of these two stones.|