Well it may still be early February, but today and yesterday it almost felt like summer - and when inside, looking out, it certainly looked like summer. Except that the trees are still bare and the sun is low in the sky.
A low sun causes difficulties for me. Yes, my workroom (my "sweatshop"!) is lovely and bright, but the screens on computers, sewing machines and embroidery machines are much more difficult to see. I find myself sitting at awkward angles and squinting. However, we see little enough of the sun through the winter that I am NOT complaining!
We had a very productive day today (does sunshine speed us up?) with Mary making up several shoulderbags and me making lots of silk-lined tweed scarves. The scarves all have to be pressed and have the fringed ends brushed and trimmed, but we are well on the way to completing the next big order. These will all be winging their way to Iona Abbey for sale in the Abbey shop.
The Isle of Iona was the base chosen by St Columba when he came to bring the Christian message to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland over 14 centuries ago. The island hosts an impressive collection of Celtic sculpture some of which has provided inspiration for some of my Celtic designs.
The island is also a typical Hebridean island with regards to its flora. This year we are developing a new range of designs to complement the Celtic designs for which we are well known. This new range is called "Moor and Machair". Most people think of moorland as rather bleak and barren with little more than miles of peat and heather, but it plays host to a wealth of beautiful flowers such as the heath spotted orchid, tormentil and bog asphodel. Machair is the Gaelic name for the sandy fertile grassland found between the beautiful sandy beaches for which Scotland is renowned and the moor. In summer the machair is ablaze with colour from swathes of flowers such as birds' foot trefoil, red clover, lady's bedstraw and harebells. In our new embroidery designs we are taking these tiny flowers, analyzing the structures and developing designs that are large enough for the detail to be easily seen. So far we have designs for the wild rose, Rosa rugosa, harebells, Campanula rotundifolia - often called a bluebell in Scotland - tormentil, Potentilla erecta, bog cotton and bogbean. Have a look at the website to see some examples. More designs are being developed but it takes time to do the drawings, transfer them to the computer, digitize the embroidery instructions, test them out and then actually make them up into things that people will want to buy. If you have a favourite that you want us to work on, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org