Sunday, July 15, 2012


Entrance to the Skye Shilasdair Shop
If you ever find yourself in the highlands of Scotland, do try and take time to visit The Skye Shilasdair Shop, the last shop on my "yarn tour." It takes a little effort to get to, but it will be so very well worth the drive. This shop is nestled in the scenic croft lands of Waternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Hebrides, rolling green hills, and the sparkling blue waters of the Little Minch and Loch Dunvergan.

After miles of one-lane roads (with pullovers to let oncoming traffic pass), we turned onto an even more one-lane road with sheep pastures on either side, left onto a gravel drive where two women stepped aside to let us through, and into the parking lot. As I got out of the car I met a woman who was carrying large cones of recently--and beautifully--dyed yarn. While we didn't know it then, this was the woman who owned the croft. She takes the fleece through the entire process of combing, drawing out the yarn, spinning it, and finally dyeing.

The Skye Shilasdair Shop entrance
Shilasdair is the Gaelic name for the Flag Iris, an ancient dye plant. The specialty of this croft and the yarns sold here is that it is the only place in all of the United Kingdom using the ancient process of dyeing yarn--and it is totally organic. The dyes come from moss, lichen, and flowers, some of which are grown in the crofter's garden, others which are collected from the area.
When you walk into the shop, you are met with an array of vibrant colors emanating from the various yarns and originally designed and hand-knit sweaters. They also have gloves, scarves, and knitting kits.

Me with an armful of yarn
There are half a dozen homes in the area, mostly crofters, and you hear only the waves, wind, and birds. It felt like a place of respite and peace, and I wanted to move in and start knitting. 

I was a bit surprised by the number of people coming through the shop during the time I was visiting. Perhaps some, like me, were drawn to check out this unique shop, despite the remote location.

They sell camel (incredibly soft), blends (cashmere, angora, and lambs wool), silk blends, cotton, and, 100 percent Scottish wool. I selected two colors of the Scottish wool for sweater making. 

Quite satisfied, we headed back to Portree. I left the driving to my dear husband Hadan, who has gotten the hang of driving from the right side of the car on the left side of the highway, ... and one-lane roads!


Reah Janise
The crofter's home and garden

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