|Gardener’s Cottage, Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire Coast, Scotland|
Meet Tricia Rose.
She’s the lady behind the wonderful linen company -Rough Linen- based in San Raphael, California. I happened across Tricia’s website not long ago when I was looking for custom linens and I was intrigued with the story of how her company came to be. I identified with her love for rustic linen and how she treasured the simple linen pillowcase made by her great-great grandmother in 1840 Scotland.
Just this past summer I learned that I too have ancestors from Scotland via my maternal grandmother. Previously, I had always heard that my roots were English and Swedish on that side of the family, so the connection to Scotland came as quite a surprise.
Upon receiving the lovely story Tricia had written (see below), I suggested that we locate some images of Scotland and Tricia supplied me with the specific areas her family had lived. On my very first search, a name familiar to me seemed to jump off the screen. Then followed one serendipitous turn after another leading us ultimately to an amazing discovery. . . My family hails from the same region as Tricia’s!—Southwestern Scotland in “Burns Country. ”
In fact, with my daughter Alex’s diligent research (she admits to being quite obsessed now) it turns out that a long line of our ancestors lived in Kilmarnock (Ayrshire) -just 15 miles from where Tricia’s grandmother lived in Saltcoats and 17 miles from where her great-great-grandmother lived in Lochwinnoch! Imagine my surprise and delight!
Providence is leading my family to Scotland it seems and
we can’t wait to see what she has in store for us there!
Please scroll down to enjoy Tricia’s story in her own words…
|Ayrshire coastal path|
“My grandmother lived in a small, solid stone cottage with views of the sea from the back dormer windows, and some of my most vivid childhood memories start there. There was a range in the back room, and built-in “presses” (cupboards), and an old-fashioned built-in bed, cosy on winter nights. We loved staying with her, loved the soups she made, the stories she told, and the songs that were sung around the fire while my grandfather read and my aunts and grandmother sewed and knitted. There was a sense of order and industry in that house, the sweet smell of tea brewing, ticking clocks and the mysterious barometer only my grandfather could fathom. Roses and vegetables grew in the little garden, the shed smelt agreeably of burlap and turpentine and no matter how cold it was, inside we were warm and safe.
I had the task of packing up the house when my aunt died, ten years ago. My brother wanted my grandfather’s tools and books, my mother wanted his walking stick and poetry, my younger brother the barometer, all of which I lugged to Australia. What I wanted were the linens, the thick blankets and Paisley shawls.
In the very back of the big linen press on the landing I found one solitary homespun pillowcase, edged with drawn thread work, and adapted with a casing and drawstring to form a bag. It was the very last of my great-great grandmother’s own work, grown on her farm in an era when it was still common to set aside a field for flax for the women to spin and weave in winter – the long northern summer days and reliable autumn dews made a small domestic crop worthwhile, though large scale production couldn’t compete with slave-grown American cotton. I brought this bag with me to California and used it to hold my lavender.
I sometimes wonder what conversation I could have with the long line of mothers and daughters who stretch back like popper beads, each utterly familiar and intimate with the next, but unknown by the third or fourth generation. Would my great-great-grandmother be pleased that I treasure her work, or would she be surprised that I value so highly something so basic and functional? How would she regard the linens I make from fabric with the same texture, weight and weave as hers, now unusual and highly sought-after, when to her it was rustic and plain?
|linen curtain panel|
Rough Linen was born of my own nostalgic appreciation of traditional comforts and crafts. I love it next to my skin, the faint scent like dry hay, the weight and strength of it. I love that I don’t have to iron it, but can let the texture be, and I love the soft natural gray-taupe colour, which softens down to a silvery sheen with wear and washing. And I love that at my advanced age I have a new project that has connected me with mills on the other side of the world, and with the women I have taught to sew in my own community, and designers and customers from New York to Sydney, and which satisfies me heart and soul. ”
A – Kilmarnock
B – Lochwinnoch
C – Saltcoats
|A semi-marbled double Scots Rose|
|Culzean Castle, South Ayrshire
|Muirshiel country park, Lochwinnoch|
|Looking towards Saltcoats|
Image credits via links provided under each photo.
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