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Dear everybody,

We first encountered Ann Hood in The Knitting Circle, her unforgettable novel of love, loss, and needlework. The fact that we later came to know her personally is a testament to the heart-opening, people-connecting power of knitting. In addition to writing bestselling novels, memoir, and essays in which knitting sometimes makes an appearance, Ann travels the world to teach writing workshops. We’re thrilled that she decided to take MDK readers along with her on a recent visit to a croft on Scotland’s storied Isle of Skye. Welcome, Ann! 


Ann and Kay

Our day touring the Isle of Skye with Trevor Crowe was winding down. We’d seen the Fairy Pools and the Fairy Glen, Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls, and tasted several drams of whisky when we had to stop for a dozen sheep to meander across the road.

“My partner and I raise them,” Trevor said, pointing out the window. “On our wee croft.”

“For meat?” I asked him.

He shook his head. “For yarn.”

Even with those whiskies in me, I sat up straight. “Yarn?” I said and next thing I know we are heading to his wee croft and the 15×12 shop Island at the Edge.

There, his partner, Yasmin Milburn, sells oiled Aran yarn spun the traditional way—in the grease, which means lanolin is still present.

Yasmin has DK in Cheviot and Hebridean, and a 5-ply worsted specifically for the traditional Gansey sweaters worn by Hebridean fishermen, that she designed. Much of the wool is spun by hand by five spinners, who also dye it using natural dyes. The utility room is full of boilers for mordanting and dying small batches as well as for roving.

To get to the shop we drive along winding roads with gasp-inducing views of the sea around every corner, then turn onto a long bumpy road where Yasmin’s sheep—Black Cheviot, White Cheviot, Hebridean, and the very rare North Ronaldsay—stare back at us as we come to a stop at the tiny shop.

Yasmin and Trevor’s house sits down the path, perched on the glimmering shores of Loch Greshornish. Inside, sunlight streams in as Yasmin describes each gorgeous skein of yarn I fondle, the colors of oatmeal and smoke and wet sand and thick cream.

She shows me a Gansey hanging near the wall of yarn. “This is the original one I designed and knit for Trevor,” she says proudly. The Gansey is made from the very first fleece of one of Yasmin’s most special Hebrideans.

It took about 400 hours to make, knit traditionally in the round using five dpns and a leather knitting belt worn around her waist. Each symbol and cable is personalized with symbols that are meaningful to him, like a knitted love letter.

This little bit of heaven was hard earned for Yasmin and Trevor. At 4 a.m. on December 13, 2013, they were awakened by a fire in their house on the Isle of Colonsay, a small island about two hundred miles from Skye. They evacuated safely, but the fire brigade arrived to discover there was insufficient water to put out the fire and no hydrant nearby.

The house and almost everything in it was lost except a couple of chairs from Yasmin’s workshop and her original Gansey. A friend of a friend offered them an old holiday let on Skye, where Yasmin and Trevor arrived two weeks later with nothing but two old cars, two old dogs, and a bag of donated clothes.

On Colonsay, they had raised Hebridean sheep and ran a B&B. Yasmin taught traditional knitting workshops using the wool from their sheep. After the fire, they had to disperse their flock, except for the three best Hebridean tups (rams).

 Yasmin working on a “Poor man’s” sheepskin. She is Felting the underside of a sheared fleece, then it will be washed carefully by hand, and then the topside is brushed.

Suddenly, they were in a borrowed let on the Isle of Skye with nothing. Six months later, they had scraped together enough money to buy a bare land croft, which is a small farm without a suitable house on it, and were living in a caravan, or trailer.

Eventually, Yasmin retrieved her three tups from Colonsay and bought some new Hebridean girls, as she refers to them, to start producing wool again and making enough knitwear to sell in the wee wooden shop Trevor built for her while he worked on building them a home by the sea.

Four years after the devastating, life-changing fire, Yasmin and Trevor are happily settled in this new, idyllic life on Skye. The afternoon I visited, they were hosting a grandchild’s birthday party, preparing to get the boat Trevor uses for marine tours in season seaworthy, and awaiting permission to build a new shop twice as big as this one.

We step outside where a light rain makes the sea and grass seem to sparkle. The sounds of children’s laughter float up to us. I take it all in—the wee shop, the sheep, the loch, Yasmin with her big smile and hearty laugh. She’s the kind of woman I want to sit and knit with, to learn the secrets of Gansey knitting and Fair Isle colorwork.

Has she finally found happiness again after losing everything?

“I love my life!” Yasmin says. “I breed the sheep, look after them, and am blessed to receive their fleeces. It’s hard work, but I have a saying: I can lay straight in my bed at night, which means hard work pays off and is an honest living.”

Five years ago, Yasmin did a DNA ancestry test and learned that her ancestors lived on Skye, on this very croft, which she didn’t know when she and Trevor bought it. “So, you see?” Yasmin says. “I have finally found home.”

About The Author

Ann Hood is the author of fifteen books, including the international bestseller The Knitting Circle and the memoir Fly Girl, which is about her days as a TWA flight attendant from the late ’70s to the mid ’80s. Her new novel, The Stolen Child, will be published in May.


  • This is just the story I will have in my mind as I spend this day ahead working on a knitting project for a dear friend who finds herself in rehab after a life altering fall. Recovery from a fire, a fall, a loss of any kind takes courage and fortitude. What an inspiring story you provided here for all of us. Thank you.

    • What a lucky friend you have, Nancy.

    • What a great article! And a great temptation from one who has been knitting for “awhile”. More power to Yasmin and Trevor.

    • Lovely article. It’s a good day when you realise you have booked a holiday cottage in the same village in August happy knitting

      • Enjoy!

  • Lovely article, thankyou.

    • Excellent in every way

  • You made my day- a beautiful article about a hard life worth living.

    • Thank you, Katherine!

  • Beautiful article! Thank you! I just downloaded the book too!

    • Thank you, D’Anne! I hope you enjoy it.

  • Extremely well written article about a specially inspiring story! Thank you!

  • Wonderful story. Thank you! Is there a way to help support them? Can we buy yarn from their shop?

  • Lovely.

  • Thanks for sharing. What a lovely find.

  • Just the most wonderful story from a writer I’ve followed for years about a part of Scotland I adore…one track roads and wilds and all!

    • Thank you!

  • Years ago while touring Skye I found a postcard at our B&B for a yarn shop out in the middle of the island. Imagine my surprise when we made our way there only to discover it was owned by a couple from New Jersey who had been hand dying yarn on Skye for over twenty years.

  • Just about finished watching the mini-series “Shetland” which is Not a part of the Hebrides, I know, but still might be quite similar, so am particularly taken by this essay and photos. And am struck by the sunlight in the Hebrides photos. In the mini-series it is always cloudy, so I am wondering for those who know both places whether the sunlight is the same. So many things affect sunlight. The curvature of the earth, the surrounding landscape, the reflection from a city full of limestone (?) buildings (Paris), the altitude, etc. From childhood it has always fascinated me. I read The Knitting Circle years ago and it kind of haunted me for a long time. Thank you Ann Hood for your evocative writing and story telling.

  • I loved this story.

  • Beautiful! I only wish it was cold enough where I live to make and wear such a sweater. I still knit with wool a lot but climate change has meant no snow here in the Piedmont of NC for a couple years. Hopefully I’ll get to Skye some day!

  • I have visited The Isle of Skye and experienced its magic. Thanks for rekindling those feelings and memories in this wonderful story.

  • Inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  • It is always so fulfilling to read your stories, admire the photos and learn a lot about life, knitting and the marvellous people to find happiness in the simple, but great!, things in life!
    Thanks for today’s story!❤️

  • Wow! What a lovely story of life and rebirth. I am a city girl at heart, but I just love stories of those who live by the land, embracing all it has to offer. Better yet when yarn is involved! Thank you for this lovely glimpse into life on Skye, Ann.

  • Great story. So glad he mentioned “yarn”.
    A hard but good life for them.

  • A beautiful story of some very real people. Thank you for this.

  • Thank you for this delightful and heartwarming story. Makes me want to visit this lovely place and see the Hebridean gals.

  • I had a brief visit to Yasmine’s Croft about 10 years ago. It was wonderful. I wanted to move in! It’s a must visit, & I hope to return someday. Her yarns are the best

  • What a beautiful article; well done!

  • Wonderful story. Went to their website, just googled Island at the Edge. Wool, finished products, overnight accomodations, various courses available. Sounds like a trip!

  • My husband and I were on one of Cat Bordhi’s knitting tours about 6 years ago and we spent a few hours at Island on the Edge. Trevor showed us many different fleeces and how the “lower grade” ones had been turned into insulation which they used in the construction of their house!
    It the knitting shop, Yasmin showed us Trevor’s gansey and described the meaning of all the symbols. But the best part was when I picked up a hand spun skein of natural wool and asked what type of sheep it had come from, and Yasmin pointed out the window and said “him” – and their stood a beautiful Hebridean tup. I bought that skein and made the warmest hat I own. Whenever I wear that hat, I remember that time spent with Trevor and Yasmin, their incredible story of rebuilding their life, and the beauty of their croft. I think I felt such an affinity to the area because my ancestors came from the Isle of Skye! It felt like home.
    Thank you Ann for this beautiful story. I love your books.

  • Loss can teach us who we are better than good times. thank you for the reminder

  • I so enjoyed your story of your journey to the Isle of Skye. My grandfather’s family was from the Isle of Skye and I so hope to visit someday. I definitely will be buying your book and I’d so love to visit this lovely Croft and purchase some yarn. Isn’t history amazing….how destined was Yasmin to actually return to her ancestral home❤️

  • I have visited this croft. They are the most lovely people and the story of how they came to find that spot and the discovery of her ancestral connection to it gives me goosebumps to this day. The yarn shop captured a lot of my pounds, the wolf dog captured my heart, the coos were very friendly, and the homemade cakes most delicious. It is a beautiful spot and the only place on earth I have ever visited with my husband where he said he happily would stay forever. We would go back in an instant.

  • What a great story. I’m going to get this book. I loved her book “ fly girl”.

    • Thank you, Lynne!

  • What a lovely experience, thank you for sharing it!

  • I too had the good fortune of visiting with Jasmin and Trevor at Island at the Edge Croft during a knitting tour of Scotland and came home with a SQ of the same type of handspun used to knit the gansey. It is either a small world or I have an incredible stash…

  • Thank you for an inspiring story. I love that her family was originally from Skye! Looking forward to your new book!

  • the story and pictures were delightful. I enjoyed it very much

  • A lovely portrait of people enjoying their lives.

  • My Mother in law came from the Isle of Skye & we are still trying to find our way from Canada to those fascinating shores. Thank you for all your descriptive writing. I ‘m a knitter & your photos of sweaters & knitting detail, I can’t wait to visit Yasmins shop. Ann

  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  • My family and I had the pleasure of spending a morning with Yasmin last summer. We were able to meet many of her “creatures” and hear stories of their adventures. Skye is a magical place and we truly learned a great deal and enjoyed our time at “The Edge”.

  • I loved this article. It took me back to when I visited Scotland and I went to Aracari
    which is where my last McFarland relative left in somewhere around 1850. It is such an unreal experience to have these experiences of returning. The pictures are lovely and the colors of scenery and wool take my breath away. Thank you all for sharing.

  • Been there … and as a child Yasmin lived close to my husband and knew my father- in-law … the Ashington wool man

  • It’s so nice to see one of my loved mentors from the Newport MFA pursuing the knitting craft that I also enjoy. What a wonderful visit this must have been! Hugs!

    • Hi Monique! I’ve been an avid knitter for a long time so finding this little gem was especially wonderful!

  • Thank you Ann for your stories of yarn and sheep and how essential knitting is to my life. Love your written works too.

    • Thank you!

  • I love this story! I’ve been a knitter for 30 years, and just bought my first wheel. I’ve been missing out on part of the fun. Maybe just a few sheep, or alpacas?

  • I literally went to the Island at the Edge shop today, April 3, and visited with Yasmin and her beautiful dog Solas. Yasmin was so very lovely; I, too, would love to have the chance to sit and knit with her for hours. In the few minutes I was there, she shared stories of her work with young people that I will bring back to my work with teenage girls in Los Angeles. She was so warm and charming and her little shop was so cute! The yarn was beautiful, I bought 3 skeins of a lovely purple and gray (which can be seen in the pics above). I would encourage anyone and everyone to visit if they are on the Isle of Skye. Thank you for sharing her story!

  • Simple knitting is a joy in my life whether for charity or a family member. So enjoyed the photo essay on your journey of sheep, knitting and living on your ancestral Croft on Skye. Your yarn is so lovely and will subscribe to your email. A trip to your island would be wonderful. Thank you.

  • This was a completely fascinating article — read it twice!!! And I’d love one of those shaggy sheep, pointy horns and all! What a life adventure! Thanks so much for the
    sharing and the narration. CM in
    sunny Minnesota

  • I would love to visit the Isle of Skye some day. In the meantime, I have my Drambuie…

  • Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I would have loved to have seen this shop when on Skye. It truly is a beautiful place.

  • I met Yasmin and her sheep in 2016; it was pure magic!

  • Thank you for sharing your beautiful adventure on Skye, I appreciated the story of the hand spun yarn. I too love knitting and crochet which I still do for my great grandchildren, they love the rainbow colours. We spent a week on Skye but didn’t know of the wool shop but we came away with many cherished memories of the wonderful Isle. X

  • Wow, how can I buy this yarn please?
    I live in Australia?
    Is this request possible to obtain?
    I am an avid knitter and looking for some hand spun blue dyed wool. Thank you, Robyn Plant

    • Hi Robyn
      Yasmin here-I currently have 2 skeins of handspun and hand dyed blue wool.
      If you want to get in touch I’m happy to send you photos

  • I love this story. My grandmother was born on the Isle of Skye and she and my grandfather moved to a croft when he retired. They both died and were buried in Portree. I was told once when visiting that if you have been in the mists on Skye you will return.

  • Thank you for the his lovely story of loss, redemption, and joy. So needed. All good wishes for this salt of the earth couple in the future.

  • So nicely written.

  • Wow and wow from grandmajoknitty (a kiwi) who grew up with mother and gran both spinning raw fleece from the farm.
    This story takes me back 7 decades! Thank you and God bless Trevor and Yasmin heaps

  • I have read this at least three times. I really want to visit and meet these lovely people. Thank you for sharing this magical place.

  • Amazing!!! How I’d love to sit and spin. Dye the yarn. This is a great story. I’m off to find Ann Hood on my Kindle…….

    • Thank you, Wendy!

  • I take my hat of to Trevor and Jasmin. What a story of optimism over disaster. I have been knitting since I can remember. I at last found real wool and love knitting with it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Would love to know if you do double knit wool and at what price. Thank you both.

  • I’m so happy that so many people have left comments! If you want some of Yasmin’s yarn, go to

  • Such a lovely journey to take us on! Thank you

  • Well done! Am impressed by your passion for knitting. Hard work pays.

  • I visit this beautiful Croft last year and have my skeins of yarn with here in Australia just waiting for the perfect pattern

  • Oh, now how I wish I could go to Skye!

  • Thanks for a wonderful story, a look at idea of how a life can be lived in harmony with the land and animals. The Gansey she made for Trevor is gorgeous!

  • What a beautiful chronicle and photos of time on the isle of Skye, a place I long to visit one day. If not, thanks to Ann, I feel like I’ve been there, if only for a few precious moments, sipping my morning tea. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Wonderful story Ann!

  • This was so wonderful to read! What an experience for you to have and share with fellow knitters and yarn lovers. I so enjoyed reading The Knitting Circle several years ago – I know exactly where it is on my bookshelf. Am anxiously looking forward to reading your newest novel.

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