I was on Skye, and Laura West was saying 'as long as you are here, you should meet' followed by a phone call, that brought me to Eva and husband Tony's doorstep one brilliant Highland afternoon in June.
I am not a knitter, but almost three decades ago I won an award for weaving. Thereafter my appreciation was complete for the expertise, as well as the sheer amount of work and patience necessary to wrought something useful from a ball of yarn. Over the years I have stood in countless yarn shops, ever mesmerised. Nothing prepared me for the calliope of colour and texture in visiting Eva's Shilasdair studio. You cannot comprehend what it is like to be in a room full of glorious yarns, all, universally, hand dyed by a single person, Eva. Moreover these are not 'commercially dyed' but rather naturally dyed with recipes crafted of the traditional lichens and dye plants of the Highlands and the ancient dyes of indigo, madder, cochineal and logwood. Owing to the variations of water used and the season in which the dye stuffs are gathered, the unexpected can happen and every hue here captured a moment in environmental time like a tree ring while offering extraordinary further creative possibilities.
There's more, of course, because Shilasdair, the Gaelic for the Flag Iris which has been historically used in the Highlands as a dye plant, is also a small scale eco-friendly farm. Their flock of Gotland, Black Welsh, Shetland and Hebridean sheep, fleece range from deep chocolate brown, various tans and greys, to silver and white, provide the basis of the yarns which you'll find rimming the studio.
When Eva came through the studio door, already in my hands for my niece Kelsey was a treasure of a child's thickly cabled hand knit sweater. Made of Moorit yarn subtly dyed by Eva in indigo, Kelsey's sweater became the basis of the creation of Thistle & Broom's exclusive Calum's Road.
You can further enjoy Eva's work as part of the Millenium Exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as she served as the natural dyer to the Scottish Firm of Angus Weavers as commissioned to reproduce the linens and bed hangings for the Great Bed of Ware.