Monday, October 22, 2007

Authentic Scottish Wool Crafts

One of Cape Breton Island's many attractions - in addition to the music, scenery and lobster - is the ready availability of authentic, hand-crafted goods. The local community has made a commitment to preserving the culture, agriculture and hand-crafts of another era, and they've done a remarkable job of doing just that. In addition to programs in local colleges and universities, organizations like the Lake Ainslie Weavers and Craft Guild continue to teach traditional arts and crafts. Located at the Scotsville School of Crafts, the Lake Ainslie Weavers boast some fine, museum-quality artists and exhibits. I've never seen so many different kinds of looms in a single place as in the Scotsville School.

Our favorite purchase on our recent trip (described in detail in posts below) was made at Bellemeade Farm in Mabou. In a small shop next to the barn on this working farm, we bought several hand-loomed wool blankets that are wonderful additions to our textile collection. Soft and tightly woven, the blankets reflect the values and craftsmanship of a different time. Bellemeade has been a working family farm since 1805. When we arrived, the proprietor was backing the John Deere into the barn and four sheep were mewling in a small pen just next to the shop entrance. Doesn't get more authentic than that.

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