About the maker

Hazel from Airy Fairy

I was born in Kent in 1971 and I have two younger brothers, due to our parents being keen birdwatchers our family moved to Stronsay Orkney then to Fair Isle Shetland.   We lived on Fair Isle, well known for the bird observatory and knitting for 7 years before returing to kent in 1982.  Following a couple of family holidays back to Stronsay when I was a teenager, we moved back. 

Airy is now my home, a lovely but slightly leaky old farmhouse on my husband's family farm. I live with Norman, who I met when I was 15 during those family holidays, and our daughters Leah and Molly.  We have a beef herd, a small flock of sheep, a pony, dog and some daft hens.  Our farmland which stretches down to the seashore is also home to a wide variety of wildlife and birds, we have been lucky enough to see otters and Killer whales from our farm.

Stronsay  has a population of about 350, quite large compared with Fair Isle which had a population of only 70!  Both islands are rich with cottage industry, Fair Isle is famous worldwide for the amazing knitting and Stronsay was well known for the weaving my husbands grandparents used to do.  My father is an ornothological artist and author and my mother is a keen spinner and knitter.   

Growing up surrounded by all of this creativity really inspired me throughout my childhood, I hoped that one day I would have my own business but when it happened it wasn't exactly how or what I had imagined! 

I started sewing following a riding accident in 2007, my leg was badly broken and I was in a wheelchair for several weeks. I was fed up and a couple of friends kindly gave me some patchwork magazines and fabric.  Being determined to achieve something while my leg healed I started making my first quilt.  I got completely hooked, I played around with patterns slowly developing my own style and designs.  I was soon being asked to make things by friends and family, and so my hobby has slowly grown into a business.  During the last few years we have renovated two attic rooms (originally the farm servants rooms) into a workshop and gallery for Airy Fairy.  Island craft fairs have been a great success encouraging more craft businesses and we now have a thriving craft community in Stronsay which has led to the development our very own island craft trail.

I use bright bold colours in most of my designs,  I can't say my designs reflect the environment in the way many local businesses do, mine are more a reaction to it.  I find the darker the weather is, particularly during winter, the brighter my projects are, it's maybe a kind of colour therapy!  I also have a bit of a 'thing' for hearts and stars, you will find them in most of my designs. We have long and often wild winters in Orkney and there is nothing more cosy than hand finishing your colourful commissions while sitting in front of the roaring fire.

The name Airy Fairy is obviously a link to the farm name which is hundreds of years old, but before moving back to Stronsay i'd paid 50p to a fortune telling machine at a fairground for fun, the printout said I was 'inclined to be Airy Fairy'!   I believe life has a way of guiding you onto the correct path even if it is literally 'by accident'  I love what I do, I'm passionate about making unique gifts and wish every child could have something made especially for them. H xx