LOCH ROAG DESIGNS Dealbhaidhean Loch Roag
Our workshop is in Valtos village,on Bhaltos peninsula, west coast of the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, off the west coast of mainland Scotland.
The Isle of Lewis & Valtos history; people began coming to the west coast of the Isle of Lewis around 5000BC. Some of their stone buildings can still be seen, the Callanish Standing Stones (older than Stonehenge in England), monoliths and the remains of chambered cairns. There is a large Viking history here, with close attachments between Isle of Lewis, Norway & Ireland. Burial sites & quern stones that were used in making flour, jewellery found in burial sites etc., can still be found. All the place names on Lewis are in Norse language and The Uig Chessmen, found just 10 miles from here, are now in the Scottish & the British museums. Valtos village was cleared during The Clearances, with some people re-located to Cap Breton, Nova Scotia & Canada, and to other areas on Lewis. The village has never recovered the population it had then.
Jane’s Isle of Lewis history; I always knew about our family connection to the Isle of Lewis. When we were growing up and living in Malta, Pakistan, India, Singapore and Iran my Mum would tell wonderful stories about herself & her family, the Fergusons, who came from Lewis. Fergus Ferguson,my grandfather was the youngest son.
[photo of Fergus - wearing tweed trousers, waistcoat & bunnet! - as a young man, just after arriving in Glasgow from Isle of Lewis.]
Fergus had to leave Lewis to find work as there was no croft land for him. He walked to Glasgow .. which took 3 weeks .. and found work in William Denny & Bros Shipyard, on the Clyde as a joiner. My Mum would tell stories about his escapades on Lewis and her own stories about living there. The wonderful feeling of walking in bare feet on the machair or wearing clogs so as to make noise whilst dancing on the newly built tarmac road. Whilst working in London I took a deeper interest in our family history, travelled to Lewis and fell under the spell of Uig. I moved here, fell in love with tweed and began to sew. [ I've have been sewing my own clothes for years ] I learnt more about the tweed by working in the Harris Tweed Hebrides shop in Stornoway, visited the Shawbost factory and was hooked. I was then lucky enough to be able to design, with the help of Fiona & Duncan Porteous, and build my home + workshop.