In 2018, I was privileged to visit the Seventh Continent, Antarctica. We joined about 95 other people on an excursion that left Ushuaia, Argentina on a cloudy summer afternoon and arrived in Antarctic two days later.
The difference was stark. The landscape so beautiful in both places. But Antarctica stole the show.
The majesty and purity of the land made me and my fellow passengers feel insignificant. We realized that we were only visitors. This land was not ours, it belonged to the seals and whale and penguins who survived it winters and feasted in its summers.
That was the start of the Edward Bransfield Commemorative tartan. It was named for the Irishman that discovered that beautiful and hostile land. I took the black/blue waters, the neon blue icebergs, the pure white snow and ice, added a touch of the orange lichen and the green moss, threw in a bit of black and red for the penguins and their rookeries and wove it into fabric. The colors came together in a startling way. They blended just as the dark ocean blended with the iridescent iceberg. They let the lichen and the moss peek out from the harshness of its landscape. And the entire pattern brought me back to that first day that I saw Antarctica.
What had been a weaving project began to morph. Friends and family wanted a scarf. Then a friend BOUGHT one. Actually bought one!
I found a mill that would make the scarf commercially. But not commercially. Cushendale Woollen Mills has been owned and operated by the same family since the 1700’s. It is in its sixth generation. They are craftsmen and women. They believe in the art of Irish wool. And they were excited to make scarves in a tartan that honored and Irishman.
The scarves they made brought Penguin Designs to the internet. This week the website opened for business. The handwoven and Irish made scarfs look great in the layout.
But it needed more. Today Cushendale Woollen Mills put the threads on the loom that will make the Edward Bransfield Commemorative Tartan BLANKETS!!!!
They will be ready in the next couple of weeks.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that a trip to a cold, inhospitable place would result in a new direction in my life. But it did.
And in these times of sickness and fear, I hang onto the hope that new adventures bring.
Stay safe. Stay well. Stay warm.