The Hebridean Woolshed

Actually, Denise’s shop and business is the way I found the croft and their self-catering cottage on Eriskay. I was looking to see what Hebridean Sheep there might be to visit in the Outer Hebrides and their website popped up. What good fortune!

Let me share with you what is written in a local travel magazine about the Woolshed as that will give you a good idea of what happens here.

With the author, Jonathan’s, permission:

“Sheltered within the walls of An Gàrradh Mòr – the historic high-walled kitchen garden at Kilbride – stands a little blue building, the modesty of which belies the treasure trove of craftsmanship and creativity within.

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“Denise and Jonathan Bridge came here in December 2002 to live a life of self-sufficiency, hard work, enterprise and neighborliness. Out in the garden they grow a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and soft fruit – primarily for their own needs, but during the summer there’s often surpluses for sale. Jams and chutneys – mostly made with garden produce – are available year-round as are free-range eggs from their croft. The eggs are the key ingredient in Denise’s famed fresh-made lemon curd.

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“In the Hebridean Woolshed – just inside the main south gate – the emphasis is on their indoor labours, made mostly during the wild and dark winter months. Hand-spun wools in the natural black of their Hebridean Sheep; others hand-dyed with native plants. There’s hand-woven scarves, beautiful knitwear, and colour themes with names such as Machair and Atlantic.

“There’s much more besides, everything being hand-made, unique – and rich in the substance and qualities of this place. Quantities are of course limited, but Denise’s work has gone to places as far flung as New Zealand, Canada, Norway, and South Africa. ‘It’s surprising how often I get orders for replacements – for much-loved hats left on a city bus, or snatched away by the winds on Mingulay, or orders for skeins to complete a knitting project’, says Denise. Before coming to Uist, the couple had moved many times living throughout the UK and abroad. But after more than 12 years, are they here to stay? Jonathan: ‘We’ve faced challenges here like nothing we’ve known before. We’ve grown – and nothing grows without roots. Who we are, everything we do? They grow right here.'”

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And now, from me, a little more about Denise’s yarn and dyeing. Here is the inside of that little blue shed where the magic happens.

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Denise pre-mordants (a mordant is the substance you soak or cook the fiber in so that the dye will attach) those fibers that need a mordant and stores them so that they are ready when she has the dyes ready.

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She uses a variety of natural dyes, some locally harvested and some she buys.

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With the help of “Princess Pickle” I can show you two beautiful skeins of Cheviot, dyed first with logwood and then indigo (the blue skein) and goldenrod and then indigo (the green skein).

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Denise’s Aga is helpful for drying yarn in the winter months…

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…and I know that Tilly carefully supervises Denise’s spinning, as well as greeting guests.

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It was a pleasure to visit this beautiful place and to truly get to observe first hand “the treasure trove of craftsmanship and creativity within.”

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Published in: on May 23, 2015 at 7:24 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thanks again for sharing. Love being a spectator of your adventure.


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