Scotland has a long standing tradition of weaving tweed and cloth, sadly most of the manufacturing of the cloth has moved overseas. On the Hebridean Island of Skye, in an old croft house in Glendale, the Skye Weavers are producing high quality textiles. Beautifully set, it is easy to see why husband and wife team, Roger and Andrea moved to the Island to establish the business after seven years of working on the Isle of Mull at the organic farm and weaving mill, Ardalanish.
Skye Weaver has a twist, a bicycle-pedal loom, all the variety of woven products and cloth have been produced by the power of ‘humans’. It’s easy to understand the appeal of the pedal loom as the sound of the bicycle powered machine is hypnotic.
Before I started making my own clothes, I hadn’t really considered construction of cloth. As I learnt more about sewing, I started to really consider what fabric I was using and it seems like a natural progression to learn to understand how cloth is manufactured.
A loom follows it’s own pattern, similar to that of a knitting pattern. The warp threads are kept under tension on the loom, whilst the weft threads are interwoven at different intervals and colours to create the pattern of the cloth. From speaking with Roger there is an element of engineering to make sense of the pattern, a lot of head scratching at the start and logical problem solving to get the loom to produce what you have planned. .
Andrea is the self confessed creative of the pair and her designs are influenced by the surroundings, I took this photo on our walk down the to studio and you can seen how purple heather contract to the yellow wild flowers spread across the landscape seep into the designs.
The Warping and Winding shed next door to the loom is filled entirely by the ingeniously hand built warping mill, constructed from from a piece of an old tractor made in Dunham, Manchester of all places. It is here where the wool is prepared for the loom and it is painstakingly strung to become the warp thread.
The final shed is a shop containing a range of products produced with the wool made onsite. They are, as you would expect, soft to touch and champion the woven patterns. We left with a branded brown paper bag containing a teal scarf, as a present for my mum.
I left with a new appreciation for the construction of cloth and I was keen to find out more about how the cloth is produced before embarking on a project myself. I would have love to have a wool coat woven in Skye, but a little closer to home in Yorkshire there are producers manufacturing coating wool here in the UK. So I feel inspired to start my winter coat, hopefully it will be made in time for when the weather starts to change.
I’ll end on this fitting photo of a sheep staring into the horizon. What a view for a studio.
Claire & Co.