By Sharma Krauskopf
This is an article by Sharma Krauskopf from Michigan who fell in love with Scotland - and decided to buy a lighthouse keepers' cottage at Eshaness, a remote location in Shetland, in the far north of Scotland and live there each winter. These pages were previously part of the "Scottish Radiance e-magazine Web site which was created by Sharma.
When people think of Shetland they often think of wool and Fair Isle sweaters. The price of wool for the local crofter is so low they hardly make anything when they sell it. But, if they happen to have brown or black sheep there is no market at all. Tom, the lighthouse's caretaker, has an assortment of brown and black fleece that he cannot sell. I decided this was a terrible waste and decided to do something with the fleece. Not knowing how to knit or spin wool, I was off to bad start. Never being one to let lack of knowledge stop me I set out to buy a used spinning wheel to spin the wool.
The Spinning Wheel
First challenge was where to get a cheap used spinning wheel on Shetland. I am sure there are lots of spinning wheels but I could not find one for sale. Not knowing what else to do someone suggested ebay.com. Turning on my trusty computer and bringing up ebay I found a working Isle of Lewis 1850 solid oak spinning wheel on auction. Perfect! So I launched into bidding for the wheel. The day the auction was to end we had a thunderstorm and I had to turn off the computer. When I could go back on-line the next day someone else had gotten my wheel. I was so disappointed.
A day later I got an email from the person who had put the wheel up for auction saying the highest bidder had backed out and would I be interested at the last price I had bid. The answer was a definite yes. During the correspondence related to payment for the wheel I asked if it possibly had come from a Morrison family. The information on the wheel had mentioned it has been in the same family for five generations. I am a Morrison by birth and thought it would be super if the wheel could stay in the family. She said a Morrison had not used this particular wheel. I was disappointed but thankful I had my beautiful wheel.
A couple of days later I got an email from the lady on Lewis saying she had convinced a Morrison who had a working 1840 wheel to trade for the one I bought if I was interested. This particular wheel had been in the Morrison family for five generations. Wow, now I was going to have a spinning wheel that was part of my clan's history. This was really exciting.
As I write, the wheel is in the post on its way to the lighthouse. I cannot wait to see it.
I suppose you are wondering now that I have the wheel what am I am going to do about Tom's fleece. Two weeks ago I started spinning and knitting lessons. This is a subject for another whole letter but at this point my spinning product looks like rope with bumps in it more than yarn. Hopefully I will get better or the only use for my yarn will be to make a nubby rug. One thing for sure it will definitely keep me busy on stormy days at the lighthouse.
Sharm, The Spinner,
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