I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely seas and the sky! I left my boots and socks there. I wonder if they’re dry!
A kid’s take on the classic poem Sea Fever by John Masefield! You can see the correct version by clicking here. Well, there was a touch of Sea Fever about the group who assembled at Mallaig last Saturday for the annual trip to Knoydart for Lace making week. The regulars were there, along with three new lacemakers for the group and three husbands who were to occupy themselves doing their own thing. Both the Doune boats were there to meet us, it being a larger group than ever before. Mary Doune, the faster of the two, set off with the first group, and their luggage, lace pillows, boots and walking poles, while the rest of us took the slower boat, Gripper II, with all our goods and chattels for the week.
Then we rounded Dun Head to enter the bay for our first view this year of the lodges – stone lodges on the left and the wooden lodge on the right. The stone lodges were built in the ruins of a row of old blackhouses, deserted in the 1840s when the landlord cleared the estate of his poor tenants to introduce better paying inhabitants – sheep. There is a good deal of evidence of those earlier residents of the area, from ruined cottages to a corn kiln; to turf and heather covered field boundaries and the marks of the lazybeds which were worked by the old crofters. It must have been a hard life.
The tide was in so Gripper moored at the pier to allow us to disembark and greet Liz and Jane who had come down to meet us. How many times have I photographed these views on the walk up to the lodges from the pier? Dozens, I expect, but they are so alluring, i just have to take them again! The white house was built after the Knoydart Clearances of the 1850s, for the shepherd and his family who looked after the new inhabitants, while the lodges were the brainchild of Alan and Mary, and built in the 1990s to house guests to Doune.
There was one new innovation this time, in the form of a windmill, on the hill near Jamie’s house. It’s one of his experiments which they hope will help their Green Policy, and reduce their carbon footprint. Jamie is one of the two sons of the couple who began the Doune project about 30 years ago, and while his parents have their own wee house on the shore, he and his wife Penny live on the hill between the two sets of lodges.
Settled into our rooms in the wooden lodge, we had time to relax before dinner at the stone lodge dining room. The food at Doune is out of this world – everything fresh, locally sourced and cooked from scratch in the kitchen at one end of the first stone lodge. You can read about it here on the website.
I can’t remember if the rain started before we headed back along the path or after we got back, but that night the wind howled and the rain lashed against the windows, and battered on the roof. I was tempted to take my duvet downstairs and sleep on a sofa, but i stayed put, and slept fitfully all night. It was going to be a working day we reckoned, so after breakfast we got started “down the lace mine” – one of Margaret’s expressions. which we love!
Here we have Norma in the foreground; Janet on the left and Kate and Sharon, all sitting round the main table. Joan and Sheila have their heads down at the small table under the windows, and Margaret, Morag and I are hidden behind Norma. Lyn is out of the photo to the left but you’ll see her - and the others - in due course.
There’s Margaret now, in blue, and Morag, talking to Norma. My place was between the two of them! I think everyone stayed in that day. Walking would be fairly difficult trailing through mud and long wet grass. Even the path up the hill to the only bit of road in Knoydart would be slippery, so we just didn’t bother.
Sharon and her husband Steve were at Doune in April last year during an early lace week. They came as independent guests for a walking holiday but both got interested in the lace making and when they got home Sharon sought out a lace maker who would teach her. So this year they were back and while Steve went out on the walks some days, Sharon joined us with her lace pillow and bobbins. This is the bookmark she worked during the week. She’s a good lacemaker. Her tension is so good and she managed to grasp the pattern very quickly.
Kate had some lovely pieces of Buckingham Point lace to finish off before starting a third piece, a flower edging – so pretty. Click the picture below to see her work emerging from a forest of pins, that hold the worked threads in place. It is very delicate.
Lyn, actually another Evelyn, came over from Ontario, Canada, on a trip with her husband, arranged to take in the lace week. She read my blog of last year’s lace week and was sure this was something she would really enjoy. I hoped it would live up to her expectations – well, it had to have done, or I didn’t do my job very well – but she said it surpassed her expectations, so I was very pleased. Previously, at home in Canada she worked on patterns of Withof lace, which is similar to our Honiton lace – very small fine motifs that would be sewn onto a net background.
She was going to learn how to do some Honiton filling patterns, as in Liz’s gorgeous flower which she almost finished this week.
Liz and her husband Andy run the lodge where we were staying and the lace week is run in a week when there are no walkers, divers, artists, island hoppers and photographers staying in the comfortable little rooms. She has been making lace herself for many years, and sometimes manages to have an hour or three to join us. The rest of the time she bakes bread and the lightest of puddings and cakes; cooks our meals; looks after the vegetable garden and the boxes of herbs…….. and dozens of other jobs contributing to our excellent stay.
I’ll carry on with another episode next time – more lacemakers, more lace, some outings….that will probably do for next time!
Talk again soon.