Tag Archives: Scotland

shop update

Hello! It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and write here… I really wish I’d been able to make time to do so as I love sharing a little of what I’ve been seeing and doing but I suppose we all have to prioritise activities and this year has been so full of lots of wonderful travels that I this little place has not got a look in. And I know I’m not alone is feeling that, somehow, the longer between posts, the harder it seems to get back to write one. But I do have a couple of plant and dye posts in the works and more waiting and hope to share them with you over the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m adding some pouches to the shop tomorrow…

A plethora of pouches

This is a cheerful bunch, made up of some of Lorna‘s beautiful handwork (that has been so loved by many of you- thank you!) and a few special fabrics. I’ve slowly worked my way through my lovely collection of worn-out jackets (and have also been doing a lot more plant-dyeing) and, as a result, my pouch-making has slowed down this year… I see this as a natural part of the way I work- there are only so many beautiful Harris Tweed jackets out there needing a new life and my focus has always been to do just that, to find a purpose for waste. But I stumbled on some beautiful (new) fabrics that I wanted to highlight in a short run of pouches, this time from Peter Grieg of Kirkcaldy, the same mill that weaves the linen I use to line my pouches. They are made from lambswool so are a softer fabric than HT but are based on some of the old Scottish tweeds and tartans and make a lovely juxtaposition to it.

Benmore Red from Peter Grieg (L, M and S)

Ancient Robertson (L and M)

As you can see, I’ve also expanded my range to include three sizes of pouches! Over the last couple of years, I’ve stored up some larger scraps so, when Rachel of Daughter of a Shepherd asked whether I’d be able to make some different sizes for our collaboration, it seemed like a great time to start using them. Because of the way I work, not all sizes are available in every fabric- it really depends on what size pieces I have- but I do have quite a few of each size in this update. My standard pouch is now my M and I’ve added a S (perfect for notions or needles) and a L (fits a medium shawl project or a baby garment) and they are £26, £23 and £30 respectively.

Harris Tweed (L and M)

And the other special fabric in this update is this wonderful hot-pink and green wool boucle!

Josh’s wool boucle

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Josh, a Dutch knitting friend from Instagram, offering me this wonderful vintage wool boucle- it had formed part of her godmother’s treasured fabric stash until her recent death and Josh really wanted to find a way to honour her and her stash and wondered if it might work as pouches. I held it back for a while, unsure if it was a bit thick for the purpose, and then realised that the gauge of the fabric would work really well as a larger pouch. And it does- the combination of that hot-pink/ grass-green/ sage check and the plump, dense fabric has made super cosy pouches and I love them!

So that’s the update. Please do head over and have a look if you’re interested- they are available for preview now and for sale tomorrow evening, Friday December 1 at 8pm Glasgow time. (For any overseas buyers keen for delivery before the holidays, please get in touch after making your purchase to discuss postage- as a guide, a small parcel containing up to 3 pouches tracked to Australia/ US costs £12.95 and takes an estimated 7-10 days. Please note that, while it’s almost certain to arrive by December 24, I can’t guarantee delivery!)

Many thanks for your interest!

oban, argyll and benmore

Scotto had a birthday recently and both our mums, knowing how much we both treasure presents that are experiences, rather than things, and remembering what it’s like to be away from family, gave him some money towards something that we’d love and remember in years to come- a fantastic daylong boat trip to Lunga and Staffa to see the thousands of puffins and other seabirds nesting on the tiny islands, as well as seal pups, amazing landscapes and the famous Fingal’s Cave!

We hired a car for a couple of nights and headed up to Oban, pitching our tent in the beautiful Sutherland’s Grove, a small forestry park with a towering stand of Douglas firs, some up to 45m and planted in 1870. We snuck in a quick walk in the twilight, soaking in the damp beauty of the place, before the rain set in. It continued all night and, although snug and dry in our tent, we woke up with a nagging suspicion that things might not be looking so bright for our day on the boat! Alas, the notoriously wet west coast weather had set in for a good few days and the tour was cancelled… SO sad. Still, there is a reason why Scotland is so beautiful and mossy and green and it requires giving up the expectation of reliable good weather and we’re getting used to that! So the puffin plans are on hold until next spring ; )

As we’ve already spent a bit of time in Oban, we decided to head down into Argyll Forest to have a wander through its stunning oak forests and rivers and to see if we could get to Benmore Botanic Gardens, a place I’d heard about and had been keen to visit… Benmore is a part of the RBGEdinburgh, a place envisioned for species of plants better suited to this wet coastline than Edinburgh; it houses many species of conifers and broadleaf trees from western USA, Asia and Europe and extensive collections from Japan, Bhutan, Chile and even Tasmania. A major drawcard to the gardens is the amazing avenue of Giant Redwoods which were planted here in 1863 and stand at over 50m…

Avenue of Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood), Benmore Botanic Gardens, Argyll

Avenue of Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood), Benmore Botanic Gardens, Argyll

Avenue of Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood), Benmore Botanic Gardens, Argyll

Avenue of Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant Redwood), Benmore Botanic Gardens, Argyll

And there are many other younger redwoods planted across the gardens, ensuring an ongoing population here- not that there is any expectation of the older specimens dyeing anytime soon as they can live up to 3000 years!

Walking among baby giants...

Walking among baby giants…

Stand of immense conifers, Benmore

Beautiful conifer root system, Benmore

I always enjoy seeing species that I’m familiar with a very different habit to normal; this English Oak is growing amongst quite tall firs and spruces, which has encouraged the development of a tall, straight trunk with very little branching. And, interestingly, the bark on the lower branches is white and thin, almost like a birch and very unlike the grey, fissured bark usually seen on this species…

Quercus robur (English or White Oak)

Quercus robur (English Oak)

Acer palmatum

Acer palmatum

Benmore is particularly known for its rhododendron collection, not a genus I’ve been particularly interested in in the past… I’ve always found the highly hybridised cultivars that we see in Australian and UK gardens pretty gaudy and also very blobby in the landscape but here there were some beautifully slender silhouettes and really interesting foliage. I think I need to add it to next spring’s calendar as I suspect that the flowers on some of these may be much more subtle and beautiful than the ones I’ve seen before!

Rhododendron pachysanthum (Thick-flowered Rhododendron)

Rhododendron pachysanthum (Thick-flowered Rhododendron)

Layered rhododendron roots

Lovely layered rhododendron roots

It was a real treat for us to discover the Tasmanian collection and to wander through the eucalypts, cedars,  and southern beeches and to smell the lovely heavy fragrance of Eucryphia lucida, which is used to make our distinctive leatherwood honey… I miss the flora of Australia!

Eucryphia lucida (Leatherwood)

Eucryphia lucida (Leatherwood)

Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum)

Eucalyptus pauciflora (Snow Gum)

Dianella tasmanica (Tasmanian Flax-lily)

Dianella tasmanica (Tasmanian Flax-lily)

And the fernery… the subject of an 18-month project involving the renovation of the Victorian building that had fallen into terrible condition, the fernery is beautiful in and of itself but also forms a great method of display for its collection- I was really excited to see ferns growing all the way up the stone walls on protruding stones and plinths. The collection is still in its development stage and I think it will be an amazing and innovative display in years to come.

The fernery and Tasmanian Ridge

The fernery and Tasmanian Ridge

Ferns on stones

Ferns on stones

Unfurling

Unfurling

I love these millipede-like fern fronds!

I love these millipede-like fern fronds!

Such complexity in these structures...

Such complexity in these structures…

Soft new growth

Soft new growth

Beautiful mauve, fuzzy new growth

Beautiful mauve, fuzzy new growth

Doodia aspera

Doodia aspera (Prickly Rasp Fern)

The gardens are open from March 1 to October 31 and I’d really recommend including them in a trip to the west coast. If you’re interested in visiting and are also into walking, CowalFest, a local festival of walking and the outdoors in the first two weeks of October, is offering a number of walks combining the gardens with the surrounding landscapes. We’re definitely hopping to get there so perhaps I’ll see you there!

shop update- Leona’s pouches

The shop has been quiet over the last couple of weeks while I worked through a number of custom orders and commissions… but I have a few beauties that I’ll be adding at 9am Glasgow time tomorrow (Tuesday November 10)!

These pouches were made from a length of beautiful vintage tweed that had been sitting in my very lovely friend Leona‘s granny’s stash for many years… Her family has recently been sorting through her belongings and, happily for me, Leona thought of me with this one. I think she thought it might be a bit too lairy for me but I actually love bright, clashy combinations, like pink and orange and green and red! And it was a lovely introduction to the traditional practice of buying pre-cut skirt lengths of tweed, complete with zip, from the local haberdashery. I’d never heard of these but, after posting about it on Instagram, a whole bunch of people chimed in with loads of stories about companies like Munrospun that paired the skirt length with a pre-knitted Fair Isle yoke and enough yarn to knit a matching jumper or cardigan (Kate Davies wrote a great post about these) and the abundance of similar pre-cut garment lengths in Australia, Japan and Thailand… I’m definitely going to be keeping my eyes peeled for these from now on!

So here they are in their beautiful, bright glory!

Leona's pouch

Leona’s pouches

Leona's pouch

Leona’s pouches

Working with what I had on hand, I paired the tweed, a tangerine, pink and eggplant check, with pale grey and charcoal zips and my natural Scottish linen and, given that my standard tweeds are much more muted, I think they play surprisingly well together!

Leona's pouch

Leona’s pouches

Leona's pouch

Leona’s pouches

Thank you so much for sharing your granny’s treasures, Leona! You are an astoundingly kind soul xx

saxifraga

I discovered a tiny Holi festival going on in the neighbourhood this morning! From here, these beautiful little Saxifraga x urbium or London Pride (what a great name!) don’t look all that colourful…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

But look a little closer…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And you’ll see!

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Aren’t they beautiful?! I completely fell in love with this sweet little plant but had no idea what it was. At first glance, I thought it might be a crassula of some kind as the flowers kind of resemble each other. But a bit of hunting and it turned out to be a saxifrage, a species that I vaguely remembered from my days as a herbalist but knew absolutely nothing about. So many plants to discover! There’s a lot of it in my neighbourhood, mostly planted amongst the rocky edges of tenement front gardens, and I’ll definitely be seeing it differently now!

There are so many details that you just can’t see unless you get in close.

The chunky, juicy style topped with delicate stigma, patiently awaiting pollen…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

Those beautiful, coral-salmon, pollen-bearing anthers…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And that way that, once the anthers have fallen from the top, the filaments retract to form a series of rays between the petals…

Saxifraga x urbium

Saxifraga x urbium

And the summer mornings, with their long sunrise and soft, gentle light, make it easy to capture some lovely details, even for novice photographers like me, even though I know nothing about my camera’s manual settings.

How about you? Caught any nice details recently?

shop update: pouches

Just a heads-up that I’ve added a run of tweed pouches to my shop!

woollenflower pouches

woollenflower pouches

For new readers, I began making these from a collection of worn-out, unloved Harris Tweed jackets collected in my hometown of Melbourne, however, since arriving in Glasgow, I’ve learnt that Harris tweed jackets are (happily!) much treasured and worn here so, unlike in Melbourne, there are none to be found in charity shops. I love being able to breathe new life into worn-out or unloved jackets and will be bringing some back with me after my trip home in September… but I have to say that it is much easier to use lengths of fabric, rather than working with sleeve and back pieces to get as much usable fabric as possible! Nevertheless, I will continue to work with whatever configuration of materials I can get my hands on as it is the fabric itself, as well as the reusing, that is the real joy for me.

In the meantime, this run of pouches are made from lengths of vintage tweed fabrics found here in the UK- some Harris and some of other, unknown origins. All of them have a story in how and where I found them and I love them all. I hope you like them too.

woollenflower pouches

Mint/ ice-blue/ gold tweed of unknown origin

Emerald/ oatmeal

Emerald/ oatmeal

The linings are all vintage or salvaged pieces too and inadvertently added to the very vintage feel of the run!

Silver/ chocolate/ salmon, possibly Harris Tweed

Silver/ chocolate/ salmon, possibly Harris Tweed

woollenflower pouches

Forest green/ tobacco Harris Tweed

woollenflower pouches

Cornflower/ gold tweed of unknown origin

These are selling out as I write so do pop over to the shop if you’d like one! I plan to update the shop with colourwork cowls and pouches every fortnight so keep an eye out for updates by following me here and on Instagram (@woollenflower).

Many, many thanks for all your encouragement and support on both our recent move and my shop- it’s so appreciated!