Alice Starmore Scottish Hand Knittwear Yarns and Designs

Costume In Development

After an intensive year of research and preliminary sketches in wool the first of the Hiort costumes is starting to take shape. I wanted to share some of the costume development process with you, so this section is a look at the beginnings of the Queen of the Waves.

People often make the assumption that the islands of the Outer Hebrides are isolated. They are certainly remote, but the sea is a pathway to every corner of the world and the Hebridean people have always been travelers, despite the dangerous waters which surround the chain of islands. This adventurous spirit was not confined to the island fishermen and sailors, but also included the women. In 19?? my aunt Annie Macleod, sewed and knitted herself a wardrobe of clothing, packed a traveling chest and at the age of 17 embarked alone on the long journey from Stornoway to ???? Canada? USA? At that time the journey was a long and uncomfortable voyage to a place entirely unknown to her, with no guarantee of when or if she would see her family again. She was one of many Hebrideans who had both the bravery and the drive to cross the world despite the dangers it entailed.

The islanders of St Kilda also travelled constantly, between the islands within the archipelago, and the wider chain of the Outer Hebrides. Rather than being isolated they actively sought contact from other islands and the world at large. And in 19?? when after thousands of years of human settlement the community on St Kilda became unsustainable, they packed everything they could carry and they travelled on.

The Queen of the Waves will not so much be a costume, but a collection. A traveler’s chest of garments and accoutrements inspired by the stacs and seas around St Kilda, which would have been the last view the St Kildans had of their home as they left. On a more personal note these pieces will also be a celebration and a remembrance of the skill and determination of Annie Macleod and the many other women of the Outer Hebrides who travelled across the waves, with only the work of their own hands to remind them of home.

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