Our family trip to Scotland consists of two halves, at least in my mind, the 8 Piece velvet hat (aka 1st half) I made at a class in June and the Harris Tweed hat (aka 2nd half) I bought on the Isle of Lewis & Harris.
In true “Leanne Style” I wanted to see Scotland, but had only 9 days. Our trip started with a 7.5 hour train journey from London to Aberdeen. Then a drive to Gardenstown on the East Coast, to a beach house with friends. We enjoyed fish, a sandy beach, art studios (see Jeff’s new knit cap below), tweeds and whisky distilleries (Cardu & Glengrant). Followed by loads of driving, a few ferry trips, beautiful landscape, tons of rain and some more tweeds!
The first half on the East coast had much better weather. Our friends are both Scottish and I was taught how to make proper breaded fish, Scottish style, with fish “that was swimming that morning.”
We visited the Knockando Mill . A working mill, which we choose to visit while the weavers were on their summer holiday 🙁 But I bough some beautiful fabric and learned about Teasels. They are part of a machine that you use to make the surface of the woven material fuzzier.
A stop in Johnston’s of Elgin allowed me to stock up on jumpers (sweaters) which I put to use immediately. They also had this nice purple tweed & fur hat.
We said farewell to our friends and started driving a counter clockwise journey around the middle of Scotland. A night of camping at the Culloden Moor, a sight seeing day through Inverness, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle. The castle gift shop had a couple of nice tweed hats also.
A night in Ullapool with a morning ferry to the Isle of Lewis. Lewis is the top of the Outer Hebrides, a set of islands off the West coast of Scotland. We visited a Norse thatched roof kiln and mill.
The next stop was Rarebird, where I acquired my Harris Tweed hat. I adore the pleating and button detailing, on the left side. I also like the fairly shallow but wrap around peak.
Steve from Rarebird makes ceramic buttons and cuts the pieces for their shop. He was very generous with his time and showed us how he makes his buttons as well as what a tweed sampler looks like, so you can see how the different colors interact.
The second half of the journey starts…The Isle of Harris which is the lower half of the island which also has the Isle of Lewis. It is not a very big island for having two names. The Isle of Harris is known for its hand woven tweeds that are produced on the island. The craftsmanship is superb and the colors are divine. People would have tweeds woven in colors to match the colors of their estate. What a wonderful way to capture the essence of a place with a tweed of the same colors.
It rained, everyday. But oddly it suited the landscape and I am not sure I would have wanted it any other way, as they have little biting bugs called Midges, which come out when it isn’t rainy & windy. Our brief sample of “Midgies” was enough for me. I guess it was good, as I think the girls would have been disappointed to never have experienced something we heard so much about.
Then a Ferry to the Isle of Skye for a wonderful hike to the Fairy pools and a night of camping in Dornie on the West coast of Scotland. A final big day of driving through Cairngorms National Park, back to Aberdeen, for a night of rest and a lovely dinner at Musa, which I am sad to say I was too tired to fully appreciate. When you do a lot of driving you come across things like, a tortilla chip which looks like a hat.
Our final day in Aberdeen allowed for a trip to the Gordon Highlanders Museum. They are a military regiment. The volunteers who run it were very enthusiastic and proud of their museum. The girls enjoyed trying out the uniforms. I loved getting to take a close look at the hats.
I no longer just look at the landscape without seeing the color palette and think of the tweed that the colors around me can create.