It was rush hour on Skye as we set off at 08:30. Ten miles and twenty minutes later we had passed one man on a bike and a lady walking her dog, it’s the kind of rush hour we wished faced us on a daily basis.
The sign for Skye Weavers was visible from the road, we turned into the driveway which was set high above the house and we headed down the steep incline to meet a fantastic couple building a business powered by pedal. Roger and Andrea have set up shop in the outbuildings of their crofters cottage in Glendale, North-West Skye. Everything they produce is woven on a pedal powered loom, an environmentally sound and sustainable process.
Roger's background is farming and agriculture and it was on an organic farm on the Isle of Mull where two very important things happened. The first was meeting Andrea who was cycling through Mull on holiday, and the second was working next to a weaving mill opening his eyes to this whole new world.
After meeting Roger on Mull, Andrea’s holiday turned into more of a permanent stay. A while later they purchased a pedal powered loom and housed it in a shipping container before moving to a bothy with no electricity about 20 mins walk up the hill. It was here they started working part time producing woven products, Andrea said “the wind would howl through the walls, it was very exposed but the scenery was amazing”. They were both very new to weaving but got help from Bob Ryan who set up the original Isle of Mull Weavers. Roger said “he’s been fantastically supportive and helped us get up to speed". They honed their skills and got used to the pedal powered loom on Mull but wanted to make it a full time career and made the move to Skye. They set up business in the crofters cottage that Rogers family had bought as a holiday home back in the 60’s.
The business took off from the moment they arrived, the loom is housed in a purpose built wooden shed and sat next door lives their rather ingenious hand built warping mill. it was built by Roger and Bob on Mull, tested and then flat packed ready for the move to Skye. It now lives in a traditional stone outbuilding with original exposed beams, it’s an impressive wooden and metal structure which rotates to collect a huge number of threads shooting off in all directions and neatly wraps them ready for weaving.
Arranged in another building was a selection of finished scarfs, tweed blankets, throws, shawls, wraps and more. The products were soft to touch and as you would expect contained beautifully hand woven patterns. Andrea is the self confessed creative of the two using the surrounding landscapes and close up photography to influence her designs. Roger is the problem solver, the logical thinker bringing a beautiful symmetry to their work to produce items on the bike powered loom that are not only ethically and sustainably sound but look and feel great as well.
It was pedal power that brought Andrea to Mull and it’s pedal power that is now responsible for a future for the both of them and judging by the products they produce and the interest in their way of life that future is very bright.