"We were never allowed to be idle," says Miriam Hamilton, from Western Isles Designs, of her childhood.  

"My mum brought me and siblings up to always be active and always have something to do.  Even if we were sitting down to watch television, we'd have knitting or sewing to do." 

The constant activity and boundless energy never left Miriam – as is evident by her range of skills today. 

Under the blanket name of Western Isles Designs, based in Crossbost, Miriam offers bespoke Harris Tweed designs, alterations, custom-made jewellery, horse-rug repairs and dog training.  

"I moved to the islands just over a year ago, after wanting to move up for 15 years!" reveals Miriam.  

"My family went up on holidays and I was always fascinated by the weaving. As soon as I could, I moved here and met up with a local weaver.  I said how much I'd love to learn, and a few weeks later he called me up and said he had found me a loom to learn on!  I jumped at it, and the man who was selling it taught me how to weave.  I'm now a registered weaver." 

Miriam's brand-new shop will open officially on March 30.  "It's a timber-framed building with a big open ceiling that's half weaving shed and half studio/shop.  The interior of the shop is decorated with recycled driftwood that I collected off the beaches," Miriam says.  "I call it 'The Posh Shed,' but it's real name is 'The Weaving Shed!'" 

To celebrate the shop opening, Miriam is planning a special event from 11am until 2pm.  "We're going to have a buffet with drinks and nibbles," reveals Miriam. "We are also going to have a proper tweed waulking demonstration with traditional singing and Gaelic songs. You don't really get to see traditional tweed waulking very much and it's lovely to get the chance." 

Shop visitors will also get to see Miriam's bespoke jewellery and Harris Tweed designs in person.  "I specialise in waistcoats, but I also do dresses, skirts and accessories, such as bow ties and bags," Miriam explains.  "I make every design unique, making sure that nothing is mass-produced and you're not going to find someone else with the same thing you've got!" 

Miriam's jewellery is made out of sea shells and other items found on the beach. So far, Miriam has made earrings, necklaces, hair barrettes and brooches, but she is more than willing to accept a challenge!

"I do a lot of commission work with my jewellery, so people can choose exactly what they want their piece to look like," she reveals.  When it comes to dog training, Miriam draws on her Masters Degree in animal behaviour.  "I did dog training as part of my degree, but never used it until a friend suggested I make the most of it," says Miriam.  "I put up a post on Facebook asking if people would be interested in it, and within 24 hours I received 50 messages – which was exciting!" 

These days, Miriam helps around four dog owners a week.  Further information can be found on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WesternIslesDogTraining.  

Miriam's venture into horse rug repair came about when a neighbour asked if she would tackle it.  "Nobody else on the island seems to do it," Miriam notes.  "I originally worked in a menswear shop doing alterations, so I had an idea how to fix the rugs!" 

Miriam sums up her aims, saying: "I'm trying to bring another dimension to what's available for tourists and locals on the island – especially for people in the Lochs area and outside of town.  I want them to have another opportunity to get something a bit different that's not mass-produced, whether it's jewellery or clothing!" 

To visit Miriam, head for The Weaving Shed, 22a Crossbost, Lochs, Isle of Lewis, HS29NP or her website at www.westernislesdesigns.co.uk.