Many years ago at the end of the nineteenth century my great grandmother, Marie Donaldson of Miltown of Knockando as it was sometimes called began work at 13 as a sweeper in the mill and worked up to finishing blankets. I never knew her but my grandmother also spent two years at the mill before the First World War & she told me tales of weaving blankets and the noise of the machinery. The girls put a twist of raw wool in each ear to protect themselves.
In the 90s I took my mother who grew up in Rothes to explore the old mill and I took these two photos of it. I was delighted to find on our annual trip 'hame' that it was being restored & have visited & bought there every year since. Most of my purchases are 'purloined' by family or friends or sent as Christmas presents to Denmark, France & Italy, but with one item I will not part. My blanket/throw.
I now have three, but my favourite - the heather toned one has travelled with me in my campervan around France, much of Great Britain and the Netherlands and in winter lies as a throw over my bed. Our most memorable trip together was from Leamington Spa to western Scotland and then over the sea by MacBrayn's ferry to the Outer Hebrides, for a glorious month meandering as we felt fit. We visited wonderful silversmiths, potters and Harris tweed makers, watched birds and wandered the mystical stones of Callanish. How I would have loved to have had my mother & granny with me too. But if I felt lonely which was rare, I could just cuddle up in my blanket and watch the glorious sunset over Barra or Lewis.
I have no photograph of my great grandmother but include one of granny in a 'farewell' photo for her husband to take to The Great War with him. And one of myself & my daughter 'wearing' our throws and another of granddaughter and me stood in front of the rowan tree grown from a seed picked up at Knockando to keep the witches awa'.
Thank you for all your work keeping the old skills alive. I look forward to my visit this year as soon as it is allowed, as at the age of 81 I may have few more years to visit.