Thursday, April 12, 2007

Day One Paisley Area

Finally online here in Edinburgh to fill you in on a wonderful first day of our trip. By the way, the kind B&B owners who are letting me on the computer late at night is Priestville Guest House on the the road of the same name here in Edinburgh. They also bake wonderful cheese scones and banana bread!

Day One was full. We started at the Paisley City Museum. This is a free museum that houses one of the best collections of Paisley shawls in the world. The collection Curator, Valerie Reilly gave us a detailed talk and slide presentation of the history of the Paisley shawl from the design origins they think in the Middle East, how it spread to the Kashmir region of India, and then finally to Europe. The town of Paisley in the height of popularity of the Paisley shawls had hundreds of weavers making these wonderful cloths, first on a draw loom, and then on the Jacquard. I took detailed notes from her talk and hope to write a more compete article I can post in the future.

From there we visited Sma Shot Studios just down the road. The name Sma Shot comes from the binding weft hread that was thrown every 7th pick to hold the rest of weft threads in place in the paisley fabric. A society has resurected and preserved one of the weavers cottages from the era when linen was woven Paisley, (1700's) and then another other rooms depicting life in later years.

The Thread Mill museum tells the story of the huge thread industry in Paisley that shut the last door in 1992. The Coats and Clark company which was a combination of the Anchor Thread Mill and the Ferguslie thread mill at one time produced 90% of all the thread made in the world. Most of the volunteers who run this museum worked in one of the mills.

The day finished at Kilbarchan Weavers Cottage, a National trust site. Christina McLeod is the weaver and guide to the fascinating history of this town not far from Paisley who had a thriving cottage weaving industry. Christina weaves tartans on a huge old wooden loom. She showed us her skillful weaving technique, carrying on an eloquent history and description talking to us while working the flying shuttle at top speed with her hands.

Although jet lagged and having tired brains from all the fascintating information of the day, I convinced 2 of my group, Carol and Martha to join me at the Arlington Pub. Each Tuesday night a group of Glaswegians who play Irish tunes gather for a session. I met these fine folks last year and they welcomed me and my fiddle back to join their merry band. We even managed to get Carol step dancing to a tune and I found out Martha is a Guiness fan! If you come to Glasgow, no doubt you will find Paul, Steven, Malcom, Eileen and others there most Tuesday nights from 10 pm to midnight. Arlington Bar, 130 Woodlands Road, Glasgow.

More updates from days 2 and 3 to follow soon along with some photos. I must go to bed to be ready for our trip south to The Borders tomm.

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