Silverbirch Workshop Archives

Silverbirch Spinning and Weaving Workshop - the beginnings

19 Reversible Linen Damask

Damask Linen - 1973

Spinning and Weaving Workshop started as a dream when I was living in Sweden. I learned to weave at Handarbetetsvänner (Friends of Handicraft) a beautiful old building in Stockholm located in Djurgården just across from the open-air folk museum at Skansen, where I took courses in wool and flax spinning and dyeing with plants.

Why Silverbirch? Travelling around Sweden by train I loved whirling past white groves of silverbirch trees in any weather. They represent Sweden in my soul.

I knew I wanted to return to Scotland when I’d finished my studies at Stockholm University. My daughter was growing up in the marvelous daycare system there and at the age of 2 she was bilingual. One of her first words was “blowy”, flower and “blomma” combined. We all knew what she meant.

I’d had a longing to return ‘home’ to Scotland since my parents emigrated to California when I was twelve. The timing was perfect. I’d fulfilled my goal of getting an academic degree, doubly satisfying because I had become bilingual as well.

Now, though, I realised that my daughter and I were speaking Swedish together at the end of the day. This didn’t seem right and I realised that I wanted to raise her in an English speaking environment.

Scan 2

Graduation Day - Fil.Kand Lynn Ross & daughter

April of 1975 when I was writing my thesis on the brain development of bilingual children, we had a chance to holiday on Arran during one of those weeks when the weather was stunning and the scenery was captivatingly beautiful and we were in Scotland.

The seed was planted. “I’d like to live here”. Over the course of the year I packed up my life in Sweden, worked out how we could live on Arran for three months , knowing that I had a job offer in Hastings to fall back on. I never went to Hastings.

The first couple of weeks that I was on the island, I sold a suitcase of natural dyed wool that I planned to use for weaving. I was offered a space to weave in the Gallery in Whiting Bay right next to the primary school. Providence or what.

I later managed to build a Scandinavian- style studio in Whiting Bay. When it came to finding a name for it, “Silverbirch” was a natural. It would have been a bit awkward to use the Swedish ‘bjørk’, but I knew what I meant.

Silverbirch the First Ten Years