About the maker

Hazel from Airy Fairy

I'm originally from Kent but have lived most of my life on two tiny islands. Stronsay, Orkney and then Fair Isle, Shetland. Both islands were and still are rich with cottage industry. Fair Isle, famous for the bird observatory and the amazing knitting. Stronsay for the handwoven tweed my husbands grandparents made and exported all over the world!  My parents are also creative, my dad is an artist and my mum spins and knits.  Both islands schools taught knitting (on four needles on FI) and sewing from P1, these traditional skills were invaluable in remote communities where self sufficiency was vital.

I had seven of my childhood years on Fair Isle before we returned to Kent in 1982, but the islands always drew us back.  After a couple of family holidays to Stronsay when I was a teenager, we moved back and settled.

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 ( who say's holiday romance doesn't work out) and our two daughters.

Growing up surrounded by so much creativity really inspired me throughout my childhood, I always 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 workers rooms) into a workshop and gallery for Airy Fairy.  

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.   Before moving back to Stronsay I paid 50p to a fortune telling machine at a fairground, the printout said I was 'inclined to be Airy Fairy'!  Coincidence?  I think not, I believe life has a way of guiding you onto the correct path even if it is literally 'by accident'  I love my job, I'm passionate about making unique gifts and wish every child could have something made especially for them. H xx