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orchil report

The Orchil Spider

The Orchil Spider.

Project Manager

Lynn G. Ross MA HONS

Argyll and the Islands Enterprise


In this report, we would like to acknowledge the support of First Minister Donald Dewar who died on October 11, 2000.  We had intended to send him a copy of this report as he launched Project Orchil at Brodick Castle on April 3, 1998.

He will be remembered for his interest and his humour on that occasion.

Also present at the launch were Hugh McMahon, MEP, Brian Wilson, MP, North Ayrshire Council Convenor George Stevens and Councillor John Sillars.


Brian Wilson, MP Cunninghame North

I have followed, with great interest, the progress of Project Orchil and its innovative approaches to island living.  The programme was based on traditional skills, especially textiles, through a very successful day of stane dyke building showed that the same approach could be used on other crafts.

A new system of accreditation for traditional skills in the context of lifelong learning was set up with the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. This system allows a measurable value to be placed on practical island based training to provide access to further learning .The enterprise training and self-development courses set up a framework for practising traditional skills as part of a new island economy, providing a focus for tourism and self-employment opportunities.

The project also looked to the future by introducing information technology, not only as a tool for documenting history, but to access further learning opportunities from the island.  Information technology also provides global communication from an island base.

The course programme brought people of different ages and learning abilities together with a flexibility in the delivery to meet different needs and styles of learning. Regular feedback from participants contributed to the development of the programme.

The focus was on traditional textile skills, but the emphasis was on bringing people together who would not normally participate in formal learning situations, such as parents with young children or older people, either through lack of confidence or isolation and lack of public transport which is particularly prevalent in rural situations.

Project Orchil addressed gaps in provision of learning and training, which are identified in government strategy documents for islands and other rural communities. The important concepts of lifelong learning, social inclusion and equal opportunities formed the framework on which the course programme was built.

The response which Arran Textiles had from other European island projects during the course of Orchil show that there is a definite trend in relating new learning programmes to traditional skills. While the needs in island communities are similar, the different traditions and culture provide an identity which is distinct from any other. This is a valuable asset for promoting each place.

The link between past and future is an important one in strengthening communities such as Arran, where tradition can be the most important resource for further development in the community. The island is fortunate in having the experience of Project Orchil as a reference and an inspiration for future community work.

Arran Textiles

Arran Textiles is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status.  Incorporation dates from March 1998.

Chairman: Margaret Fitzpatrick

Secretary: Edward O’ Donnelly, BA (HONS), Fine Arts, Bath Academy of Art, MA Cyprus School of Art

Board of Directors: Lesley Hart, MSc, MA, Head of the Senior Studies Institute at the University of Strathclyde; Janet Hughes, B. Ed, CNAA Degree, CGLI Advanced Certificate in Adult and Further Education, CGLI Technical Teachers’ Certificate, IMA Diploma; Susan Tozer, BSc (HONS) Environmental Science; Cecilia Paul, BA (HONS) Scottish College of Textiles

Advisers: Tom Miller, Business Adviser, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise; John Norman, Accountant, Norman, Downie & Kerr; Burness Solicitors, Glasgow; North Ayrshire Council Educational Services; Argyll and the Islands Enterprise; Robin Jackson, Jacobyte Limited


The company has its origins in the outreach programme of the Senior Studies Institute of the University of Strathclyde.  The skills of handspinning, weaving and natural dyeing were reintroduced to women in the 50+ age group in the “Spin a New Yarn” class from 1992-1996.

The objective of the work was to make sure that knowledge of the skills continued in the community. The course was also intended to break the isolation and lack of educational opportunities prevalent in rural communities.

Since 1993 intergenerational work has been organised in Arran schools. The “Spin a New Yarn“ group demonstrates at the annual Arran High School Heritage Day at the Arran Museum.

In 1993 the Arran Weaving Project was set up by members of “Spin a New Yarn“ class to fundraise for Intergenerational Programmes in Arran Schools and Montrose House Home for the Elderly

“Flags of Europe” was exhibited at Provans Lordship, Glasgow as part of Europe 1993 exhibition.  It was produced by Spin a New Yarn and 3rd year pupils at Arran High School as part of their Standard Grade work.

Members of “Spin a New Yarn“ wove the Isle of Arran tapestry based on the Ordinance Survey map to be sent to the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing

Margaret Fitzpatrick represented the group at the Older Women’s Network – Europe meeting in Dublin to prepare for the Beijing Conference. Margaret travelled abroad for the first time and spoke in public for the first time as well.

In Beijing the Isle of Arran tapestry was joined to a ribbon of work from all over the world.  “Women Weaving the World Together“ was displayed and filmed on the Great Wall of China.

In 1996 Lynn Ross represented the group in Germany, Italy and Austria in the European exchange project “Changing Track at Third Age“. The project was sponsored by the European Parliament Directorate General V as a fact-finding study on the lives of women over 50 in the countries represented. The Arran group hosted an international visit with delegates from the other participating countries on behalf of North Ayrshire Council.

Recommendations were sent to the European parliament at the end of the year.

In 1996, the company also produced “Connecting Threads“ a multimedia CD-ROM production to introduce the traditional textile skills of spinning, weaving and natural dyeing into the Scottish 5-14 school curriculum. This was funded by Leader II, Scottish Arts Council and SCRAN (Scottish Cultural Resource Access Network) and North Ayrshire Council.

Argyll and the Islands Enterprise on behalf of LEADER II carried out an evaluation of the project.

The company has had further European project experience with Project Spiderwoman (1997), which was an exchange with AIDA (Italian Older Women’s Association), Volkhochschule Russelsheim, Germany. Funded by Leonardo Da Vinci I.

Project Orchil

Since the first course in 1992, the company has developed programmes for learning and training based on traditional skills.

The programmes have been specially developed to meet the needs of people living in rural areas.  They have mainly been aimed at women, though men have never been excluded.

The company set up as the Arran Weaving Project to run a programme introducing weaving to primary schools on the island.

The women who were teaching weaving were also skilled knitters and were interested in setting up a cottage industry to market hand knitting, especially the Arran-Aran pattern.

Training days were held in collaboration with Strathclyde Regional Council Community Education in knitting competency, information technology and business skills. The resulting garments were sent to an exhibition at the Scottish Tourist Board office in London.

On the first day of the exhibition half the items were stolen. The project was back to square one.

At the beginning of the knitwear project the name of the group was changed to Arran Textiles to cover the new development in skills training.

Based on research into strategies for rural development in Scotland and in the islands especially, the course programme for Project Orchil was devised to offer an introduction to skills, which could be taken to a higher level through further education.

It was decided that the most appropriate programme would include traditional textile skills, information technology, and language skills relevant to European project development and training in business and personal development skills.

In 1997, the National Lottery Charities Board awarded the company £160,427 for a period of three years to carry out the project which is described in this report.

The aims of the project were to:

The project was monitored and evaluated independently. These reports are summarised in the appendices.

Introduction to Orchil

Open Days June 10th and June 17th 1998

The purpose of these open days was to:

The open days were held in collaboration with the Saltcoats Job Centre and the Open University

Developing Infrastructure

Arran Textiles operated as a constituted voluntary organisation from 1992-1997.

When the National Lottery Charities Board awarded the group the funding for Project Orchil, the first task was to incorporate the organisation as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, to facilitate development of the company and the process of becoming employers.

A memorandum and articles were drawn up stating the aims of the company:

To advance education, in particular with regard to the traditions and skills connected with life on the Scottish Islands.

To preserve and promote, in the interests of the general public, the traditional skills connected with life in the Scottish Islands.

To relieve poverty, particularly among residents of rural communities in the Scottish Islands.

To promote, operate and/or support other charitable projects and programmes for the benefit of rural communities within the Scottish Islands.

A board of directors was appointed from members of Arran Textiles, participants in the “Connecting Threads“ CD-ROM project, the University of Strathclyde and the National Trust for Scotland at Brodick Castle representing institutions which had been involved in the development of the organisation.

The company has employed a full-time Project Manager and part-time Administrative Assistant since 1997

The project was evaluated independently by Ecosse Associates.  See Appendix II.

Following recommendations from Ecosse and Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, a business plan was produced to establish a way forward for the company fulfilling one of the Orchil aims.

The Course Programme

The course programme was developed each year to offer learning opportunities within the overall framework of the project aims.

It was also developed to be flexible in order to respond to changes in training needs which were identified as the programme progressed.

The original development of the project was intended to be a linear increase in numbers of participants from 10 to 64.

In fact, the total number of participants in year 1 was 147, in year 2: 160 and in year 3: 269.  The emphasis in the third year was in textile training and IT that was textile specific.  In the first two years the courses were open to the community.  The numbers indicated evidence for IT and business training.  This evidence was used by North Ayrshire Council in the application for the local learning centre, which was officially opened this week by Argyll College and James Watt College to bring further education to the island.

Tutors from the Orchil information technology courses were able to assess the needs of several clients with learning disabilities and set up appropriate computer programmes to encourage learning and access to the Internet.

In Year 2, one of the older tutors, Margaret Fitzpatrick, taught weaving to a group of clients with learning difficulties.

In the third year of Orchil these women joined other participants in the textile and technology classes, boosting their confidence and bringing them out of the isolation which is usually prevalent in rural communities for adults with learning difficulties.

The project was approached by a number of younger people in the 18 to 30 age group who would have liked to take part in the Orchil training. They were unable to participate because they were in full-time low-paid employment that they could not afford to give up. These jobs do not offer training.

There were also a number of parents with small children who felt they could not leave their children to participate in training.

We have recommended to the local authority that they assess the actual size of this age group on the island to identify training needs.

It is clear from the demographic profile of Orchil participants that this age group was not well represented on the courses.

Where appropriate professionally during the project, participants were employed as tutors, which encouraged a sharing of skills and boosted individual self-confidence.

Although the number of participants did not follow the pattern predicted in the application form, Phase 4 of the project was able to deliver training in business and information technology to a wider group in the community while still fulfilling the needs of participants interested in textile studies.

This led to collaborative work with NAC Community Education employing Orchil tutors to teach information technology workshops in several of the village halls round the island.

This also led to collaboration with Argyll and the Islands Enterprise and Developing North Ayrshire in the delivery of business skills training.

The original intention with regards to language training was to tie in with other providers through the local authority. When this did not happen, it was decided to concentrate on delivery of the other areas of training.

At the end of the programme, we have a core group of 26 people who can take the textile programme forward either as producers, demonstrators or tutors.  We have also set up a network of individuals who can assist with our specific IT needs in all aspects of the work, including future e-commerce development.

Through the project we have strengthened links with Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, which have provided us with more effective access to their business network.

We also have a number of individuals who are interested in textile courses we may offer in the future.

Management Training

Throughout the programme members of staff and board members were offered training in team building and personal development.

Danny McGuigan of the Business Development Centre in Glasgow worked with the group on an ongoing basis over the three years to deal with management issues and facilitate with the board and staff to focus on the future of the project and the company.

The project manager worked with Watt Nicol on the “Ultimate You“ and Ros Taylor’s “Trans4mation” programmes of self-development, which was then cascaded down to other Orchil trainees.

The emphasis in management training was to build ‘emotional intelligence’ in the company to increase confidence, improve interpersonal communication and deal with difficult situations.

Board and Staff were also offered appropriate technology training to improve electronic communication within the company and increase computer literacy in the group.

Teleworking was pioneered in year 1 due to lack of office accommodation.  All board members have access to email to make sending out documents more efficient and to speed up communication when issues need to be discussed quickly.

Textile Master Classes

Shibori Dyeing (Japanese Tie-Dye)

Eleanor Percy Adams, Graduate, Textile Apprenticeship Programme, Mendocino Art Centre, California

Eleanor now works at Kimberton Hills, Pennsylvania in a Camphill Village using her textile skills to work with people with learning disabilities. In the master class in Shibori Eleanor shared her skills dyeing silk with natural indigo, tying the material to form intricate patterns with pebbles and pipes. She also shared here philosophy of adapting the textile skills to individuals of varying learning abilities.

Judy Ramsey, Master Spinner, Michigan Guild of Spinners, Dyers and Weavers

Judy brought her experience in handspinning to the class. Participants were required to have completed the Orchil introductory course. Judy taught advanced principles of blending fibres, designer yarns, fibre characteristics and blending percentages.

She also worked with posture exercises to counteract any stress spinning may have on the body and stressed throughout the day that spinning should be fun.

Judith Baines, Transferring textile skills to children

The master class on transferring textile skills to children emphasised hands on experience of weaving with simple looms and yarns of different fibres and colour.

Judith has many years of experience relating textile skills to the school curriculum.

Her presentation books are works of art in themselves. they provided inspiration to all the group and added a dimension to each person’s own textile work inspiring production of personal portfolios

Sara Bowman, Creative Textiles

Sara has been a textile artist for many years. She studied at West Dean College and the Courtauld Institute.

Sara was born in Australia. Her father was from Ayrshire and when Sara was a little girl he gave her a sample book of embroideries which her grandmother had done in Scotland from Victorian magazines.

Sara visited Paris on behalf of the National Gallery in Canberra to buy from the fashion house of Poiret for the Museum. When she was in Paris she met one of the women who had been an embroiderer for Poiret. This acquaintance led to the book A Fashion for Extravagance and a video on the lives of some of the women who used to work in fashion embroidery.

Her master class was called Creative Textiles.  She covered a variety of techniques. The emphasis was on textiles as autobiographical expression.  A wonderful selection of materials, cloths and beads were available to play.

Intergenerational Tuition

During the summer of 1998 members of the 50+ group “Spin a New Yarn“ tutored younger Orchil participants on an individual basis in the techniques of spinning, frame loom weaving and natural dyeing.

One of the tutors Elizabeth Smith worked with Rachel Armitage who was the Primary 5–7 teacher at Kilmory Primary School in the south end of the island.

During the autumn term, a pilot project was held at Kilmory Primary sponsored by NAC Educational Services. Orchil trained tutors were hired as sessional workers to teach the children the textile skills. They also worked with the teachers to field test “Connecting Threads“ CD-ROM in the classroom as part of the curriculum work.

The Orchil tutors continued to work in schools the following terms with a pilot project at Corrie Primary School. The textile work was related to the Viking project, which was the main area of study for the school for that term.

Corrie Primary School

Gill Butcher, Elizabeth Smith, Ruth Yates, Christine Wolter and Edward O’ Donnelly piloted a project, which introduced the principles of weaving to primary 5,6 &7 using a variety of looms.

A Viking style warp-weighted loom was designed which could be put together by the children using traditional wooden peg fixings.

Clay warp weights were made by Gill Butcher and fired by potter Ramesh Lele for use with the Viking loom.

Elizabeth Smith taught the class the basic techniques of weaving on the small frame loom.  She encouraged the class to experiment by weaving both from prepared designs and spontaneously, by selecting yarn and improvising the design as they wove.

The children expressed much enjoyment in the processes involved and pleased with their weavings when they had learned to tie them off and cut them.

From the class teacher’s point of view the project was very stimulating for the children as a craft activity and informative of the historical process of producing cloth.

The women who taught the skills learned much themselves about introducing traditional textile skills into the school curriculum.

These two pilot projects formed the basis of a successful bid to the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Programme. Arran Textiles was awarded funding to carry out Project Charlotte for one year to introduce the traditional textile skills into the primary curriculum on the island. Five schools participated. Kilmory School participated by filming a video for use by teachers in other areas to integrate the skills into the curriculum.

A learning pack to accompany the video has also been produced as part of Project Charlotte.

Kilmory School won a national Curriculum 2000 award, which recognises the ability of the school to integrate the surrounding community into the school curriculum to the benefit of everyone involved.

The schools programme is to be expanded to provide in service training for teachers in other local authorities which will provide further employment for Orchil trained tutors.

Traditional Textiles in the Community

As part of the learning process during Orchil, members of the group took part in special projects in the community applying their textile skills in a variety of situations with different age groups.  These included

Working with frame loom weaving for women with learning difficulties.

Outcome: Some of the women joined other Orchil participants in the textile and ICT courses in year three.  This gave them an opportunity to socialise, which they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Wearing of a tapestry “Island Women Spinning“ by members of the 50+ group for Montrose home for the elderly.

Working with pupils, teaching weaving on frame looms, at Brodick primary school as part of their hobbies day.

Demonstrating spinning and weaving for Arran High School pupils at the Arran Heritage Museum.

Members of the “Spin a New Yarn“ group went to Pirnmill Youth Club to demonstrate spinning and teach the children how to use the frame looms.

AVL Computer Aided Loom

With part of the capital grant from the lottery board, we purchased an AVL Studio Dobby Loom.

This loom links to a computer and provides a method of programming the pattern via special software programmes.

The weaving is done by hand, combining the traditional skill with information technology to reduce the work of drafting and setting up the loom.

Cecilia Paul has a degree in textiles from the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels before the time of computer aided looms.

She had four days of one-to-one tuition with Su Coleman of the Weavery in west Yorkshire who is the approved AVL tutor for the U.K.

Cecilia is currently experimenting with different designs for demonstration of the loom.

The company will offer courses in the use of the AVL loom as part of our future business plan.  We have already received a significant design commission as a result of our attendance at the Ideal Homes Exhibition.

Machine Embroidery

Judith Baines taught machine embroidery to a group of 50+ women.

Six women from the group along with Judith and textile artist Lesley Sim created a wall-hanging inspired by the international year of the older person and tea on the water, which was a day organised in Scotland to commemorate the special year.

Being surrounded by water they thought it would be an ideal theme to base the project on.  They got together with their sewing machines, exquisite fabrics, beads, buttons sequins and threads and got to work.

Their aim was to create a wall hanging consisting of individual interpretations of the theme using machine embroidery.

They used similar fabrics resulting in a lovely continuity of colour and texture, creating an art piece both tactile and visually stimulating.

They enjoyed working on the wall ha777nging and each woman produced a unique piece even down to the treasure bags resembling the bottom of the sea.

Traditional Textile Studies


A six-week course was held in autumn 1998 at Brodick castle.  Jill Hargan was the tutor.  Participants had an opportunity to try out a variety of wheels and fibres.

The course programme followed the descriptor for the accredited course in Traditional Textile Studies, which Lynn Ross has written for the University of Strathclyde.

Elizabeth Smith was the tutor for a further six week course held in spring 1999 in response to requests for further tuition by participants in the autumn course.

Natural Dyeing and Felting

Kathleen McNeish tutored the first Orchil dyeing class in the autumn of 1998.  The six-week course was structured according to the University of Strathclyde descriptor.

By request, a six-week course was organised by Kathleen for the spring of 1999.  This course included felting techniques.

The group produced a felted wall hanging incorporating the colours and yarns which had been dyed with weld, birch leaves, indigo, madder and cochineal.

Hidden Art of Handknitting

Tutor Rose Ashley brought an exciting new dimension to the traditional skills of knitting with explorations of colour and texture in the design.

Information and Communications Technology Courses

Tutors: Richard Lane, Liz Sloane, Andrew Grazier and Christopher Ross-Gill

The development of appropriate information technology for the individual participants had high priority in Project Orchil.

The attendance at our introductory courses in the first year showed that there is keen interest on the island in learning about computers for a wide variety of reasons.

We emphasised training relevant to the development of the textile programme, but as a result of the open days courses were run by Community Education which might not otherwise have happened.

Board members, staff and participants have all benefited from the opportunity to improve their skills in a number of ways:

SCRAN Database

As part of our commitment to SCRAN (Scottish Cultural Resource Access Network) for the production of “Connecting Threads“, Lynn Ross produced a database of 187 items from the Silverbirch and Arran Textiles collections.  Lynn was assisted by Rachel Armitage.

Each item of text had to be matched to a photo or slide.  The photos and slides were then compiled on to a Photo-CD.  We have that CD as a permanent record of the items submitted to SCRAN.  These images can be used for other projects as we retain the intellectual copyright to them.

The database can be accessed at the SCRAN web site by clicking on projects and putting the number 21 and Argyll and Bute into the relevant spaces.

Although the database was funded by SCRAN, the compilation was used as a training exercise for Orchil participants.  The database was used as a resource in the year 3 courses.

West Highland Multimedia Conference

Christopher Ross-Gill attended the Multimedia Conference in Fort William.

Information from the conference assisted in the setting up of the web site where this report will be published.

Our “Connecting Threads“ CD-Rom received an award as finalist in the West Highland Multimedia Competition.

Business Development

Business Skills Day

The Business Skills Day was held at Brodick castle on November 4, 1998.  The speakers were Assya Baumgartner on tourism and marketing and Patricia Quinn from the Irish Islands Federation on business skills in the island community.  In the afternoon Watt Nicoll gave a presentation based on his book “Twisted Knickers and Stolen Scones“.

The purpose of the day was to improve business skills, especially for people working in arts and crafts and other small businesses.

Information was available on business development and advice services on the island.

Business Skills Day at Brodick Castle.

Personal Portfolio Workshops

Personal portfolio workshops were held once a week in February and March 1999 to give participants an opportunity to think about their own personal and career development.

The tutors were Danny McGuigan, Fiona McGovern, Iain Frame, Janet Hughes and James McPherson

The workshops covered positive thinking, setting achievable goals, working as a team, techniques for transferring skills and playing with colour

Several small businesses have started on Arran due to Project Orchil and links have been established with the island business advisor for Argyll and the Islands Enterprise.

Latin America Day

A day of Spanish tuition was held at Whiting Bay Hall in Year 1.

The tutor was Fabiana Galante from Argentina who worked with a group of mixed ability level and had everyone very mellow by the afternoon.

Chef Robin Gray and Janet Hughes from Grange House Hotel prepared a Cuban lunch based on black bean soup and tortillas.

There was an exhibition of Latin American textiles from the Silverbirch Collection and from Linda Murray.

An assessment of skills took place and an assessment of future training needs. in the next phase of Orchil we hope to offer more connections with textile projects in Latin America.

One of the participants has since walked the Inca Trail and travelled in Latin America.

Building Drystane Dykes

Stonemason Simon Gee was the tutor for the course in drystane dyking which was held at Brodick Castle Country Park in Year 2

The group who were all beginners completed the wall which Simon had prepared in half the allotted time.

The wall is on the grounds of the Countryside Centre at Brodick Castle and now forms one of the permanent boundaries.

This course showed that the Orchil approach could be extended to other skills besides textiles. Discussions are underway with the Irish Islands to adapt the model of Project Charlotte to their school curriculum using the medium of stones instead of textiles as that is more appropriate to their cultural history.

Textiles, Teaching, Technology and Traditions

In Year 3 the 4T’s course was set up to bring together the essential elements of Orchil:

It was recommended that participants had taken part in the basic textile courses in Years 1 and 2.

This class expanded on the idea of using Information Technology to research historical textiles, especially Scottish, to look at traditional designs for inspiration in producing modern textiles.

The course was based on the techniques presented on the Arran Textiles CD-Rom “Connecting Threads“.

There were two tutors from other projects relevant to the course.

Davina Callen demonstrating flax spinning.


The textile and technology classes which were taught in Project Orchil were prepared according to course descriptors which were written by Lynn Ross for the Lifelong Learning Centre at the University of Strathclyde.

Six classes were passed for accreditation by the Faculty of Education at the University. Each class carries 5 points on the SCOTCAT system.

One SCOTCAT credit point equates to 10 hours of “notional student effort“. By this the university means all aspects of learning including attending classes, private study, discussion, completing assignments, etc.

If all six classes are completed then the student will gain 30 SCOTCAT points which is the equivalent of ¼ of 1st year at undergraduate level.

The points are transferable to other courses and institutions

This is awarded as an Open Studies Certificate and provides a link from island based study to further opportunities in higher education.

The courses are: Introduction to Spinning and Dyeing; Introduction to Weaving; Textile Crafts 1; Textile Crafts and Information Technology; Textile Crafts 2; Textile Crafts 3.

The course descriptors are in Appendix III.

Mentoring and Coaching Skills

September to December 1999

Seven Orchil participants completed the course in Coaching Skills, which was offered by Argyll College.

Initially the Project Manager was invited to attend the sessions in Dunoon, but Orchil provided the college with a large enough core group to offer the course on Arran.

This initiative was used to strengthen the successful Objective 1 application for a new learning centre on the island.

Orchil Group Meetings

Throughout the programme participants meetings were held to discuss progress and identify training needs, which came out of the planned courses.

Several meetings and forums were held with key members of the community to present the programme and get feedback on how Orchil was fitting in to overall community development.

All of these discussions were either recorded on flip charts or minuted.  The resulting information has been collated and is either reflected in the planning of the course programmes in Years 2 and 3 or in the Business Plan, which has recently been completed.

Sometimes the discussions were informal to encourage participants to be confident in stating opinions and feelings. Other times the presentations were more formal where the purpose was to communicate the progress of Orchil to the community in general or to set the agenda for discussion of the future of the company.

The following sessions were arranged throughout the project:

Exploring the European Market

Coincidental to Project Orchil, Arran Textiles was invited by the Irish Islands Federation to participate in a series of exchange visits. This was funded by the New Opportunities for Women programme from the European Union.

We were asked to provide course tuition on the Orchil model for participants who came to Arran from the Irish islands.

This provided experience and further work for Orchil tutors. It also provided an opportunity to test our programme model on a different target group. The Irish visits have been evaluated separately.

In the course of the visits to Ireland, Orchil participants met with women from Sweden, Denmark, Germany, France and Finland. The reaction to our project from other parts of Europe gave us the marketing information needed to assist in developing the attached business plan.

In September 1999 a group of Estonians from the Kuressaare Vocational School on the island of Saaremaa visited Project Orchil.  They were hosted by the Scottish Agricultural College at Auchencrive. They gave an informal seminar to Orchil participants about craft development in their community. The result of this visit was an exchange visit to Saaremaa by the Orchil Project Manager, which resulted in proposals for a number of initiatives to transfer the Orchil model to Saaremaa.

A bid has been submitted to the European LEONARDO DA VINCI programme for a transnational project to continue our work with Estonia, Iceland and the Irish Islands Federation partnering the Scottish Agricultural College and Arran Textiles.

Linking the Project Work to Local Tourism

Though it has been acknowledged that the work of Project Orchil is closely related to planned strategic developments for tourism on the island, there have been problems in the tourism sector which have made it difficult to take any concrete steps forward to integrate Orchil into the local programme.

This is an area, which we will continue to explore with a view to providing an additional tourism focus for the island by offering courses in the textile crafts to visitors. We can also provide an additional image of the life and culture of the island. The business plan for Arran Textiles has taken this unexplored area into consideration.

Ideal Home Show

Arran Textiles was represented at the Ideal Home Show in Glasgow from September 23 – October 01, 2000.  The craft stand at the exhibition was sponsored by the Scottish Media Group.

We were sponsored in this venture by the new Craft Development Officer for Arran, Vanessa Morris.

The Orchil Group prepared the exhibition, and during the course of the show 9 people demonstrated the skills of spinning and frame and peg loom weaving.  Cecilia Paul demonstrated weaving on the AVL Loom.

It is clear from the enquiries from the show that there is significant interest in the plan to develop holiday courses on the island.

It is also clear that there is interest in the CD Rom and the “Connecting Threads“ training programme for teachers.

We also received an offer to work with other makers to produce a design portfolio for handwoven, dining room chair covers.  This would be ideal for AVL loom production.  The development of this portfolio will give us an opportunity to focus the AVL production in the near future.

The show was a fitting activity to bring the Orchil programme to an end.  Preparing the exhibition let us see how much we had achieved as a group, over the 3 years.

The hand spun and woven products were concrete evidence that skills had been developed to production level within the group.

That the participants could be employed as demonstrators by the Craft Project and that they now feel confident talking to members of the public about the project and the work, indicates that the end of Project Orchil is not an end but a beginning for all concerned.