Shetland Hand Weaving 2

Taking off from where I left off yesterday……

The Maxwell Loom

Here’s Christina again – “The Maxwell loom was custom built after World War 2 by George Maxwell for the Swiss born textile designer Marianne Straub OBE who designed fabrics for London Transport and also British European Airways.

The Maxwell loom was a bit of a restoration project for me and Allan and needed a fair bit of repair work when we bought it. We loved restoring it and bringing this part of British textile history back to life and along the way we added a few more refinements.

It was also fitted with a custom built sectional warp beam and has a full weaving width of 55″. We also added a treadle gate with locks and a beater lock. Also extra large fabric protector to stop rug shuttles from falling off the front and I added several steel counterweights to the tie up system which are needed for this particular type of rug weaving. The beater also has a steel weight fitted to it. I also use the spare warp beam to seperately tighten the warp threads that weave the pattern. It was originally built as a 16 shaft and 16 treadle loom, but the addition of the Shaft Switching Device gives it the equivalent horsepower of 96 shafts. (the Varpa loom has the equivalent design potential of 108 shafts.)”

And this is my Unicorn Rug!

Christina had kindly left the tip of the unicorn’s horn for me to complete so, with her expert and careful instruction, I finished it.  The magic was complete!

And then we had fabulous chocolate cake and coffee.

Here are some of Elizabeth’s rugs that you can find for sale on her Etsy page.

Russian Folk Art floor rug
175 cm x 100 cm

Blossom floor rug
142 cm x 100 cm

Art Deco Floor Rug
143 cm x 97 cm

If you enjoyed this little crash course into rug weaving, Christina is available all year round to teach one-to-one, tailored to the individual'(s) interests and times to suit.

As there are 2 looms, Christina can teach 2 people (bring a friend!) and refreshments are provided. Courses can run from just a day to even a block of a few days spread over time to allow somebody to finish a rug.

Contact Christina Smith on 01595 810357 or via Shetland Handweavers Facebook page.

I can highly recommend.


Shetland Hand Weaving

My friend, Christina Smith from Shetland Hand Weaving, is hand weaving me a beautiful rug so I went to see how it was getting on and to experience the traditional craft of hand weaving.  She lives very nearby and I spent a superb morning watching, learning and becoming very interested.

(Christine is really writing this – I just adpated it for the blog)

“This one had a little sheep rug on a Finnish Varpapuu countermarch loom, built from Finnish birch wood. It has a weaving width of 61”. The loom is fitted it with a custom built sectional warp beam and then built the Shaft Switching Device (The rug weaving technique of Shaft Switching was invented by the late Peter Collingwood OBE) to fit this particular loom.

Shaft Switching Devices are not available to buy in the UK so any rug weaver wishing to explore the technique has to essentially build their own and custom fit it to their own loom’s exact dimension.

That is why the device on the Varpapuu loom looks so different and works slightly differently to the device which I built for the George Maxwell Old English Countermarch loom that has your Unicorn rug on. “


This is Christina’s beautiful view. over Seli Voe.

The rugs can be used on both sides and 100% cotton warp (hand dyed in case of small sheep rug) with locally spun Jamiesons Shetland Wool Yarn.

So I sat myself down on the loom bench, received very good and comprehensive instruction, instantly forgot most of it because I have the brain of a hen, and off I wove.. (or whatever the correct terminology is).

It was excellent fun and most interesting. I learned a lot and off we moved to the next room where the mother of all looms was situated ……

More tomorrow and you will get to see my Unicorn Rug!  Yes, you did hear right – MY UNICORN RUG. I WILL HAVE A UNICORN RUG!

Just sayin’

Here are links to Christina’s shop – Shetland Handweavers and Etsy Page.  She also gives tuition and runs courses – more details tomorrow.

Hoof Sagas

Yesterday, when we brought Haakon and Iacs in to try on hoofboots kindly brought by a friend, I saw the true state of Haakon’s front hooves and had a total panic.

OMG!  I had not realised that they had deteriorated quite so badly.  I felt very ashamed and instantly started imagining the hoof capsule coming off and having to put my dear old friend to sleep.  No horse can withstand that kind of hoof damage.

The abscesses from February/March have left huge scars and, although they are growing out, I was worried that Haakon’s feet were now not well balanced with any wrong pressure causing more harm.

Both fronts

So I put out an emergency call out for a farrier and luckily found there was one on the island – we have to import our farriers.  Best of all he was in our area the next day and could visit.

Today, I have been here, there and everywhere.

We started early, Floss and I by going to catch Storm and Vitamin to bring them home.  I had cheekily added them to the list but then felt guilty and owned up first.

The Shetland ponies have spent the day in the back old vegetable garden alternating between shouting at Hetja, Lilja and Sóley as well as staring at me creepily while I sit at my desk.

The farrier visited and did his work, sorting out everyone’s feet on his list.  I was most impressed and he was optimistic that we could, in perhaps a year’s time, shoe Haakon again and I could ride him once more.  My dream.  He said the hoof above the abscess was healthy, growing well and showed me how to rasp off the nasty bits as they grow downwards.  I am very relieved.

A busy day, but definitely worthwhile.

Storm Warning

Two more feets to do today – first up was Storm as he did offer with his Winning Smile.

I had carted all my hoof-rasping equipment (rasp, hoof pick, two headcollars (small and larger) with rope and my axle stand) down to their field.  Of course they were at the furthest end.

After I had rasped his hooves (just the small battle of unhelpfulness), Storm decided to get revenge and upturn everything.  I think he wanted to make me smile again after our hoof row.  So he took the bag.  It was doomed.

I left Storm to his own amusements and turned my attention to Fivla.

With Storm scrushling through the bag in the background, Fivla duly had her hooves rasped.

He never gives up.  Hours of entertainment to be had from a Tesco bag.

Afterwards, I took my now-rather-soggy bag (can’t think why) away with me.  It wasn’t quite as nice as when I had arrived with it.

As the class clown, Storm has a huge sense of humour which keeps him and everyone around him smiling.  I do love him very much for it.



Painting the Forth Bridge

“”Painting the Forth Bridge” is a colloquial expression for a never-ending task, coined on the erroneous belief that at one time in the history of the (Edinburgh) bridge repainting was required and commenced immediately upon completion of the previous repaint.”Wikipedia

Well, that’s how I feel about rasping small pony hooves.  It never ends. It never will end and I can’t leave it for any length of time as it always needs doing.  The Forth Bridge or Shetland pony hooves.

Today, I rasped the teensy-tinesy hooves of Newt (who was superb – he really has turned a corner about this).  What a guy!

Albie – who was moderately helpful.

Tiddles – who got a smacked bottom for stiff legs, refusing to help and generally being uncooperative.  I am sorry (I am not) but we had words. I won.  He gave up being a tit and his reward at the end was a very small bit of carrot which I grudgingly gave him.

And then, lastly, feeling very weak by now, Vitamin, who was ooooooookaaaaaaay.  Not brilliant, but not awful.

I ran out of steam after that but I know who is left to do.  I have a farrier coming on Thursday to check I am keeping on top of their hooves and doing it right.

Tomorrow, I will do battle with Silver….

Fivla and Storm

And Waffle – but I may have to go over and get him.  Today was an Alone Day (large black dot/lump in distance).

Althought blowy, it was nice to spend time with my Shetlands.  As I write this, my Painpod is on full revs and boost.  An essential piece of kit for this never-ending job – my very own Forth Bridge.