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News ... Naidheachd

28 August 2015Ulva and Mull

Inscribed in the guest book of a Mull hotel is a little poem entitled "Mull Weather". It begins: It rained and rained and rained and rained: the average was well maintained... And so it was during Sgioba Luaidh's 2015 sojourn on Mull.

Click here for some pics.

As usual, we spent a day in Sheila's Cottage on Ulva. Thank goodness the cottage has had a new roof since we were there last, so we didn't get washed out as we did last year. However, poor Eleanor happened to be sitting under the spot where the ridging hadn't yet been completed! Drrrip! Not many visitors ventured across on such a bad day, but the few we had (mainly hardy souls from the Netherlands) were very interested in what we were doing, and we had good fun, although the rain battering on the new tin roof threatened to drown us out completely!

On the Saturday at Duart Castle we were crowded out with visitors, all taking refuge from the rain! We have never seen such wet people! We were kept busy non-stop all day with visitors from all over the world. It is so interesting to meet all these different nationalities and to have the privilege of sharing our own Gaelic culture with them.

Click here for some pics of our trip to Ulva and Mull.

09 August 2015Number six! Et au revoir!

It is always a red-letter day in Sgioba Luaidh's calendar when we have the chance to waulk a new tweed. Saturday 25 July 2015 was such a day, when we did our sixth "real" waulking. Our friend Alison Ross kindly gave us a double width tweed, woven in Lewis. We split it in half and sewed it together to make a single width piece, 7 yards in length. (We use traditional measurements.) Pics here.

Five of Sgioba Luaidh wended our way to Auchindrain Township, along with Jeanne, the French student who has been working with us for the past three months. We were augmented by our good friends Fiona and young Kirsty, whose blue hair brightened a dull day, and elicited a query from a wee girl: "Are you a mermaid?"

For most of the day we had the company of Rory Rutherford, a weaver from Arran, who made himself useful to us, fetching and carrying. We hope he will put us in touch with the Arran waulking women.

We are about to let you into a trade secret now! We had a tub of warm water for the preliminary soaking, with the poit mhùin full of (synthetic) ammonia ready to be added. But the ammonia was colourless, didn't look right at all. Fiona to the rescue! She produced a can of Irn Bru, the addition of which made the maistir look quite authentic!

The actual waulking took an hour or so, with songs from Frances, Eleanor, Myra and Kirsty. We had plenty of visitors, some of whom took a turn at the board. We hope they got the blue dye off their hands more easily than we did!

The cloth shrank from 33" in width to 29", and lost half a yard in length. It has come up really nicely. We are happy!

There was plenty happening at Auchindrain that weekend, as the Travelling People had set up a re-creation of their summer camp.Travellers were always welcome at the Township, so this was the revival of an old tradition. Click here for pics.

We were sorry to say au revoir to Jeanne, who returned to France shortly afterwards. We hope her "internship" with Sgioba Luaidh has been interesting and helpful for her studies. We look forward to perusing her dissertation, although we can't quite imagine what she will say about us! We will certainly miss her company. A bientôt, chérie. Click here for some pics of our farewell meal with Jeanne.

 

07 July 2015Auchindrain and Lismore

On the last Saturday in June we had another busy day at Auchindrain. At one point we were in full waulk when we noticed that a lovely gentleman sitting on the bench watching us was squirming in a peculiar manner. We thought he maybe had a skelf in his tòn, but no, he had caught his trousers on a wee nail head sticking up. His wife tried to help, but the only way he could free himself was by removing his trousers! Sgioba Luaidh had an attack of the vapours! Nail has now been hammered down, so future audience members should be safe! (And Sgioba Luaidh’s blushes spared!) Click here for some pics. (No, we didn't take one of our friend removing his trousers!)

“An t-eilean beag uain’ an caidreamh a’ chuain …” Into July, and we were off to Oban to catch the Lismore ferry. We had previously made two short visits to waulk on the lovely wee island, but now we were away for a weekend. On the Saturday we led a workshop with ten "students" eager to learn the intricacies of waulking. They were soon all singing away heartily, with a few laughs thrown in.

Later in the afternoon we put on a show for a small but discerning audience. We performed our basic programme, telling the story of tweed from the sheep to the finished garment. ("From Ewe to You".) In the second half we presented part of our "Feuds, Fights and Fairies" series, with some bloodthirsty stories from Hebridean history, finishing off with "Trod nan Cailleach", the poetic contest between the Uist woman and the Barra woman.

We enjoyed our sojourn on Lismore, and were lucky in having pleasant weather for some nice walks to enjoy the peace and quiet and breathe the lovely clean air. Sgioba Luaidh feel very blessed to be able to travel to such beautiful and interesting places. Click here to see some pics of our trip to Lismore.

24 June 2015Busy days and maple syrup! And yet another tweed up our sleeve!

Saturday 16 April was the day when Sgioba Luaidh were almost overwhelmed! Every year the Scouts from Bonnyrigg descend on Auchindrain for the weekend, doing things like planting totties and helping with conservation work. They were sent in to waulk with us in small groups, and there was also a constant stream of “normal” visitors, so we were hard at it all day. It wasn’t too easy, because we would be in the middle of working with one group, when more folk would come in. But we coped! And we shouldn’t even have been at Auchindrain that day! We made an extra visit at the request of three ladies from Prince Edward Island, who had contacted us saying that they would be visiting Scotland, and were really keen to see us perform. So how could we refuse? It was lovely to meet them, and they enjoyed waulking with us. They gave us Canadian pins for our fleeces, and two cans of wonderful maple syrup. We stuffed ourselves with pancakes and syrup at our next few practice meetings!

Click here for some pics. (Prepare to drool at the sight of those lovely pancakes!)

The following week we were back at Auchindrain for another busy day, but with visitor numbers a wee bit more manageable!

After a couple of weeks’ respite we had a nice sail to Rothesay to perform for St Andrew’s Ladies Group. They were a small crowd, but they sure were up for a laugh! And they gave us a lovely afternoon tea! You can see some pics here.

Frances and Pauline had an interesting day at Paisley Museum for an event celebrating Scottish textiles in the nineteenth century. There were some fascinating displays: Paisley shawls, of course, and everything from Ayrshire lace to Singer sewing machines; lots of information about dyes, as the move was being made from natural dyes to synthetic. (Our spinner, Innes, was gnashing her teeth at missing all this – bad timing of holidays!)

Our friend Dan Coughlan, the weaver at the Mueum, was giving a demonstration. Frances bravely had a go at the loom, but her wee legs weren’t quite long enough to reach the treadles. However she is now a dab hand at throwing the shuttle! Pics here.

Dan had a demonstration tweed on the loom and when he has woven a good length he will invite Sgioba Luaidh back to the Museum to waulk it! Sgoinneil fhéin! We now have no fewer than three tweeds up our sleeve!

The first one, a gift from our friend Alison Ross, will be waulked at Auchindrain on Saturday 25 July. The second tweed was given to us by Sam Goates, who also wove the “Kelp” tweed which we waulked last year. (And she is trusting us with another!) We hope that Sam will be able to join us at Auchindrain on Saturday 26 September for our second full waulking of the year. Two dates for your diary. Do try to join us.

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