Eco Textiles Hebtember Workshops

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Stornoway Castle Grounds brimmed with storytelling, rambling, foraging and creativity last Friday.

Rachel Powell, the eco-textile artist from Teeside, shared her knowledge of sustainable foraging to introduce ramblers to dyeing, knitting and weaving with windblown flowers and leaves, dried stems and twigs.

Foraged petals were used to dye recycled white cotton fabric, charcoal from the rhododendron eradication area was used as a drawing tool, local “bobban” wool was plied with wind fall branches and knitted on needles of whittled twigs.

At the end of the day-long workshop a textile weaving was woven on a loom hanging from a tree branch by Sober Island.

Some of the regular walkers in the Grounds have, since the workshop, been contributing to this colourful and interesting weaving.

One participant said: “It was a wonderfully exhilarating and inspiring eco workshop in glorious sunshine. We spent the morning wandering around the grounds taking photos for inspiration. Then we naturally dyed some cotton with berries and petals, to get the most amazing colours.

“Rachel then set up a warp over the bough of a tree and we wove all sorts of natural wonders as the weft, we even used Harris wool knitted with twig needles! It was truly inspirational and uplifting!

The workshop was supported by CNES Arts as part of Hebtember and the Living it Up project which encourages social and active events for the Over 50s. Stornoway Trust generously gave permission for the use of the sustainable foraging area.

On Saturday, Rachel Powell headed to Barvas Community Centre for the Barvas Wool and Spinning Group as part of their monthly winter meetings. The group were shown new ways of using natural dyes from the local area, including plants grown in gardens and windblown materials. The afternoon was about upcycling, de-constructing yarns and reconstructing them with stitching.

Rachel Powell said: “Because of the sustainable and enviromental issues nowadays, a lot of people are interested in reviving traditional skills. We are helping to keep those old skills alive with a modern twist.”

Both workshops were co-ordinated by the local Cabraich Rafters Community Arts Group.