A colourful honeymoon on Skye

I have a bit of a dilemma. I have so many lovely balls and skeins of yarn that I cannot decide what to knit next! I have to admit that my wool stash has spiralled out of control recently – here’s the evidence! So whilst the many balls of yarn are waiting patiently for their knitted destiny, I thought I would at least tell you a little about some of my favourites.

I bought this stunning Isle of Skye Shilasdair wool in September last year. This is particularly special wool for by Mrs D because I bought it whilst Mr D and I were on our honeymoon on Skye. So you can imagine that this only adds to the pressure in trying to decide what this lovely wool will be…

Shilasdair is a dye house, shop and exhibition in the north of the island of Skye, in the Waternish peninsula. We were staying not too far away (in the village of Dunvegan) and I spotted a colourful leaflet in our B&B telling us all about the wonderful Shilasdair wool. Needless to say, my new husband quickly realised that a trip to the Shilasdair dye house would form part of our honeymoon! The Waternish peninsula is a truly remote spot, with beautiful views out to the Atlantic ocean. I can certainly understand how the landscape inspires the vibrant colours used in the Shilasdair wool.

So what makes Shilasdair wool stand out for me? The yarns are dyed using historic dyestuffs and traditional methods. The exhibition takes you through the types of natural dying agents used in the wool. For example, this gorgeous sandstone colour is achieved using madder (a dyestuff extracted from the madder plant) and onion skins. Yes, onion skins! And I can assure you that the finished product definitely does not have an unwanted aroma of onion!

The vibrant pink is known as Skye Gabbro. This wonderful colour is obtained using the madder plant alone.

Before visiting Shilasdair and learning about these traditional dying methods, I would never have imagined that onion skins could produce a brilliant yellow, whilst lichens are so versatile that they can produce a wide range of colours including reds, browns, greens, pinks and purples. Crucially, at Shilasdair the yarn itself is of the highest quality. The ones I picked are both merino lambswool. Just so soft! Now I must decide what to make with such a special purchase. Any ideas?

Mrs D xx


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