Mainland Orkney, and the Boreray boys (plus a new dog note)

The travel notes continue. I'm skimming the surface, and still there is so much to say. . . .

The next series of posts will be about mainland Orkney. (To allay some confusion: I was in mainland Scotland; also in Orkney, where the largest island is called Mainland; and then in Shetland, where the largest island is called Mainland.)

While on mainland Orkney, I got to visit Jane Cooper and her Boreray boys:


Jane recently moved to Orkney and is getting settled into her home there, new to her and now with sheep.


Borerays are one of the rarest breeds, and are one of two rare breeds that originated in St Kilda (in case you're reading this in a library, that site loads with an audio clip of sea sounds), a group of islands in the North Atlantic west of the Hebrides. (The other breed from there is the Soay. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust's PDF about Borerays is here.)

These are just little guys. They're a bit skittish, but they can be enticed to come closer (temporarily) by food. They're growing fast. I'll bet Jane will be nostalgic looking at these photos, which were taken not so long ago!


It was great to see Jane again. We met at UK Knit Camp in 2010. Jane has been the instigator, in close collaboration with Sue Blacker, of the Boreray yarns that have been coming from Blacker Designs. Having collected Boreray fleeces from far and wide for those mill runs, it's only fitting that Jane should now have her own Boreray sheep. And I was delighted to be able to make this visit. Thanks, Jane!

To celebrate these special yarns, Liz Lovick designed a special pattern for a shawl or scarf. There's a lot of history and story and delightful creative energy at that post of Liz's that I linked to about the pattern.

Next I'm working on posts about Kirkwall, which was "home base" during most of the Orkney days (except for the ones I spent on North Ronaldsay—and Liz is responsible for the extraordinary time I had there! more soon).

But for now, we can just enjoy these charming fellows and all those lovely related links.


P.S. We thIMG_5843 - Version 2ought we had a name for the new dog, but it's not quite sticking. He came to us as Baxter, yet he's really soft for a Baxter; it just doesn't fit him and doesn't roll off our tongues easily when we look at him. We thought River, but that's a little too soft, even though it has the same cadence, which is a plus. Oh, the matter of names! As he goes to the vet, gets a microchip, and so on, changing his name will get more complicated the longer it takes us to find out what he wants to be called in our family. Sholmet, because he's white-faced? (Not quite a good call name.) Rakki, because he's a dog? (Too percussive for him.) Wash? Maybe. Tam? Also maybe. Spark. . . . Speck. . . . Fendy (meaning "seaworthy"). ?!?

Does anyone know a good word for "happy" in some semi-relevant-to-our-lives language? He has a very optimistic outlook on life, strong even yesterday, which involved immunizations (one did sting a lot), microchipping (which took two tries), a complete physical including blood draw for heartworm check, treatment for mild yeast infections in both ears (drops will be ongoing for a while), and THEN getting stung by a nasty flying INSECT! Poor pup! But pat him (or even just look at him) and he smiles.


14 thoughts on “Mainland Orkney, and the Boreray boys (plus a new dog note)”

  1. I’m making a list. We have 34 names on it. Not sure yet how we’ll get him to let us know which one he wants! But this is usual for our critters. It takes some time. It *is* awkward that he doesn’t really have a name for us to use yet, other than Mr. Whatshisname.

  2. Yeah, were working with Pupper and Poppet, the latter of which may end up being a nickname. Also Sweetie and Cutie. And Fuzzface and Fuzzy butt. None of which is going to be a REAL name {wry grin}.

  3. Right now I am spinning a primitive Shetland fleece which almost looks blue. The former owner of the fleece is “Seeley” which I am told is Gaelic for happy. I don’t know that would work with sit, stay etc commands.

  4. I love those near-blue fleeces! Seeley would also be reminiscent of Bones, one of the few TV shows we watch (although a season or two late, on DVD from the library).

  5. My son is named Anand, which is Sanskrit for joy. Folks in CO may recognize it from anandamide, the active ingredient in cannibis (wry grin back atcha). Andy is the typical nickname.

  6. Ahh, don’t know what happened to my first post, but acidophilus is good for dog ear yeast….and Asher is another good word for happy in Hebrew after Sameach…Asher is a better name!

  7. Wordlily, you are very perceptive, and Shiny is a fantastic name. We have come down in the Firefly/knitting camp with this pups name, which he seems to be responding to well even immediately: hes Tam, and as soon as I can get a post set up (Im organizing fleeces and fiber full-time right now), Ill announce it in its full glory!

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