Up early again this morning although Dexter was very good until 6.30 am. The weather was glorious, clear skies and even a slight frost so, after breakfast we went for a walk near the loch. I forgot to take my phone or camera so no photos but the morning was clear and just wonderful. I decided to explore a little further and ended up having ‘an adventure’. We followed the fence from the loch along the hillside, trying not to fall down the dips that happened between the clumps of grass. The underlying land is peat bog with clumps of grass and small shrubs but sometimes your foot keeps going down further than you think. It makes for interesting walking and you have to make sure each foot is ok and on firm ground before taking the next. At the end of the fence, I decided to turn right because this led towards the road and, at this point, I was quite warm and removed hat, gloves and unwrapped my scarf. What I didn’t realise was that in removing the scarf, I had knocked the lead from my neck, although I didn’t realise this until later. We walked on down the hill and found a gate to get out. What I didn’t realise was that, with all the grass growth, the gate wouldn’t open so I lift Dexter’s legs onto the gate and then lifted him over the fence. So far, so good.
On the other side of the gate, the slope was quite steep so we went slowly down the slope ski style ie we went across, turned and started back but then I realised that the slope got even steeper ie a cliff! I retreated back up the slope and then decided that I could follow the fence to the point where the slope met the road but we had a few bushes to negotiate. At this point, I was trying to stop Dexter jumping off the cliff edge and follow me along the fence – not easy. Got to the end and reached down for the short lead – it wasn’t there! I tied Dexter to a gate beside the road and then went back through the bushes and retraced my steps to see if I had lost the lead in the section after the gate. No luck. I went back and Dexter and I walked home.
After breakfast we set off for our day’s adventures starting at the Callanish Stones. These are ancient stones, about the same age as Stonehenge – possibily earlier and there are three areas of stones. We visited the main site and then walked on to the second and then third site before walking back. Since the weather was clear and sunny, Dexter enjoyed his walk although we did have to negotiate the cows before going to the second site.
Having visited the stones, I went in to the visitor centre where I had to help the sales person to work out which colour some tee shirts were – clearly colour blind but didn’t want to admit it. He was trying to serve someone on the phone but struggling with the colours! We drove on from there towards my primary goal, a Harris Tweed weaver. On the way, there was a signpost to a gallery so I turned off to see that. The person who owned the gallery is a painter but it turns out that she also does some spinning and has done a little weaving so we had a long chat about spinning. She tried to give me some yarn but I resisted! She is a much better artist than spinner!
I drove on but when I reached the village where the weaver lives, I saw that there were lots of cars and activity at the local church. It looked to me as if there was a funeral going on. When I reached the weaver’s workshop there was a note saying they would be back later so I to drive on towards Port Ness. This is the most northern point on Lewis.
A short while later, there was a sign to the Hebridean Soap Company so I went for a visit. It is owned by a lovely lady who was an IBM systems analyst before giving it up in 2000 to live in the Hebrides! They make 15,000 bars of soap a year as well as other products and local people help her with packaging but essentially she does most of the work. As she said, there isn’t much call for systems analysts in Lewis.
I drove on towards Ness thinking I might find a café for lunch. No such luck! The two cafes I saw were closed so I carried on, ending up at the beach at the Port of Ness. Dexter had a great time and a good run. He particularly liked chasing the surf!
I saw a notice for a Tweed weaver who was supposed to be open but there was clearly no-one there when I went into the house. So, I wasn’t having much luck – nowhere to find food and no weavers!
I decided to go back to see if I could find the weaver at Carloway. This time, he was there and he was busy talking to another group so I talked to his wife. There had been a funeral this morning. The person had died unexpectedly last Friday and was buried on Monday.
I was allowed to take photos and I have just realised they are all on my camera not my phone so I’ll have to post them later. The yarn which is Hebridean wool comes from two local mills – in Carloway or Shawbost and this weaver, who is independent, weaves and sells his own fabric not through one of the big mills. He warps on a huge warping board – 60 metres at a time and then he sets up his loom. He has two Hattersley looms that he weaves on. The Hattersley looms were invented in Keighley in the 1920’s – not sure how old his looms are. They are 4 shaft looms with a pedal drive of the fly shuttles so it is semi-automatic. Essentially, they weave 2:2 twills although they may be threaded at herringbone. The yarn is sett at 20 ends per inch and he weaves about 18 picks per inch When he presses the right pedal, the fly shuttle is sent from the right and when he presses the left pedal, the fly shuttle is sent from the left. Norman can weave about 3 metres an hour if he is working undisturbed and one bobbin of yarn weaves about 4 inches. He has a great bobbin winding machine where he can wind 200 bobbins an hour! Once he has woven 60 metres, he folds the finished fabric and sends it to one of the mills for finishing and inspection by the Harris Tweed authority to confirm it is genuine Harris Tweed. He then gets the fabric back to sell. He makes a few scarves and throws but essentially he sells fabric by the metre and at a price of £20 per metre, this looks like good value. I saw it selling in Tarbert at £30 per metre.
After this visit, I decided that I had done enough sight seeing and it was time to go home, particularly since I had missed lunch! We got home and had a rest before going for another walk to retrace our steps from this morning to see if I could find the lead I had lost. I was relying on Dexter to some extent to find it. After walking to where I thought is might be, I noticed Dexter rolling in the grass and there it was, the lost lead so mission accomplished! We retraced our steps to avoid the adventures of the morning and then got on with chores in the chalet.