Workshop Leaders

Lara Armitage

I am a collector. I curate the things that seem to want a second life and try to use them in innovative ways. Origami is one of my passions and I always have paper near to hand. My workshop space hosts overflowing bowls of cranes awaiting flight, files full of maps and old music sheets yearning to be rediscovered and objects in need of new lives. I am also partial to upcycled crafts, using things that would otherwise go to waste. I enjoy teaching children and have spent many years running workshops designed for kids. Having made my start in costume design during my English Literature degree at the University of Edinburgh in the 1990s, I still fly a flag for theatrical/dramatic presentation and look to use things in unique ways.

I am a dreamer... but a very social one! My aim to share the dream.

Cass Barron - Bookbinding with Cass

Cass is a self taught bookbinder who has a particular interest in working with pre-loved and everyday materials. She first delved into bookbinding while studying Fine Art Sculpture at Glasgow School of Art, making her own sketchbooks to record her creative process.​

After a brief stint in Newcastle and at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where she studied a Masters in Art Museum and Gallery Education, Cass moved to Edinburgh to take up the role of Development Officer with Voluntary Arts Scotland, where she worked for 8 years, providing support to voluntary-led creative groups across Scotland.​

In her early Edinburgh days, while volunteering with Remade in Edinburgh, a donation of leather (from an old sofa) re-ignited Cass’s interest in bookbinding and has led to her developing a range of upcycled bookbinding workshops, which she now teaches full time, both independently, under the name ‘Bookbinding with Cass’, and in collaboration with a range of artists and venues across Scotland as well as offering kits and workshops online.

"I get a real buzz out of sharing my passion for bookbinding and inspiring others to see the creative potential of pre-loved materials that might otherwise end up in landfill. It’s great to see people leave each workshop with a unique and usable book, ready to start its creative journey, plus the skills and know-how to make more at home."

Lucy Baxandall - Tidekettle Paper

Lucy Baxandall is a papermaker and book artist based in Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, and in London for teaching. She has worked as a financial journalist, jewellery designer/maker, translator and teacher of French, German and art in the UK and the USA.

From 2008 to 2010, she was artist in residence at John Mason School in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and remained at JMS as an art teacher until 2011.

After returning to London from Oxford, she taught at the London Centre for Book Arts, and now teaches 2D and 3D papermaking at Morley College and West Dean College. She also runs papermaking and book arts workshops for groups and individuals at her studio in Berwick and around the UK, and occasionally translates for academic publications.

The move north in 2018 has allowed her to open a bricks and mortar shop, Tidekettle Paper, alongside her studio at 16 Bridge Street, Berwick.

Carys Dawes - The Willow Warbler

Carys discovered the art of “willowing” in 2011, when she attended a plant support course at Harestanes. She quickly became addicted and began making useful and beautiful willowy objects using “recipes” from other weavers and also designing her own. However, sitting in a workshop by herself didn’t really suit Carys, which she realised when she started listening to repeats on Radio 4! She started “The Willow Warbler” in 2012, which was partly about making a range of willow objects to sell but mainly about teaching others skills in willow weaving."

She has run many courses in the Lothians and Borders and enjoyed every second, meeting new people and watching them grapple with and grow to love willow. After a bit of a break, she is excited about running some new courses on willow weaving. “I am absolutely sure that you will grow to love willow weaving as much as I do.”

Nicky Stevens

Nicky Stevens, a self-proclaimed "chicken loving, bee keeping gardener" is a Birkhill regular. She grew up near Edinburgh dabbling in arts and crafts from time to time, but it wasn’t until she spent a year in the Falkland Islands back in 2010 that she learned to spin, weave, dye and felt, and really fell in love with crafting.  

"Moving to the countryside near Kelso in 2013 slowly allowed me more time to pursue these and other hobbies. I soon became a Birkhill aficionado, attending many varied craft classes and volunteering too both in the workshops and garden. I just love the relaxed nature and ethos of Birkhill and helping to lead some classes is just another way to spend time among like minded people."

Susie Finlayson - Susie Stitch

Originally self-taught and now studying with the Royal School of Needlework, Susie acquired the name ‘Susie Stitch’ from a group of 3rd year students at Hawick High School who she worked with in 2019/2020.

Susie’s introduction to textiles and needlework came from her grandmother who taught her the basics of knitting and needlepoint at a very young age. Knitting and cross stitch continued to be hobbies throughout Susie’s working life but it was volunteering for the Great Tapestry of Scotland project in 2011 that opened up the world of embroidery and sparked a career change.

Susie is based in the Scottish Borders and is currently the Stitch Co-ordinator for five new panels which will be on display at the Great Tapestry of Scotland Visitor Centre in Galashiels which is due to open in 2021.

Susie runs workshops and gives talks across Scotland and the north of England as well as stitching commission pieces for special occasions.

Mairi Flood - Bosie Hug and Meandering Yarns

Mairi Flood is the designer and maker behind Bosie Hug and Meandering Yarns. She lives in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders.

Early retirement provided Mairi with a new sewing machine and the time to indulge in her life pleasure of sewing and making. Her love of natural textiles and the West Coast of Scotland soon resulted in her adorable Harris Tweed baby booties lined with soft organic cotton fleece. Each pair are individually cut, machine sewn and hand finished by her alone. 

Meandering Yarns fuels Mairi’s desire to explore and experiment with textiles and new ideas. For her it’s about freeing up the possibilities and simply playing with thoughts and wool, hence the name.  Her unique embellished Tweed pots have pure wool felt inners and are hand embroidered with selection of yarns including vintage linen and wools sourced from small independent hand dyers.

Her designs are inspired by her daily walks in the countryside around her, meetings with other stitchers and her growing knowledge of embroidery techniques and styles from Scotland and all over the world.

Mairi tries hard to use only natural and sustainable materials and packaging wherever possible.

Julie Galante - Airtily

Julie has 15 years’ experience as a practicing artist and writer, and has been filling sketchbooks and journals her whole life. Her artwork focuses on the people and places around her. Working primarily in oil and mixed media, she creates portraits, landscapes, and cityscapes which incorporate visual information gathered from her environment. Her work has been exhibited in China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Scotland, Switzerland, and the US, and it is held in private collections on five continents.

She started teaching journalling workshops in 2020, sharing her unique approach to this creative practice with hundreds of participants so far, both in-person and online via her company Airtily. She is based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Lara Greene - Transform Arts CIC

Lara Greene has a dynamic background in art & education. Many years creating public/corporate commissioned sculpture and interactive work for exhibition internationally have built her unique technical skill set. She teaches with enthusiasm, compassion and a sense of fun, sharing her knowledge generously. She inspires and supports every workshop participant along their creative journey. Transform Arts CIC is Lara’s new social enterprise, delivering creative workshops and events. All company profit is used to provide opportunity for children or young people who would otherwise struggle to take part in the arts.

Samira Hill - Eildon Hills Design

My name is Samira Hill, and I have been teaching knitting and crochet professionally to children and adults throughout the Scottish Borders for the last 8 years, as Knitting For All Kelso, Melrose and Jedburgh. As an archaeologist by trade, I like to study the links between archaeology, heritage and knitting, and I have spoken at various events on The Archaeology and History of Scottish Knitting.

Although teaching these crafts has always been my passion, I was always dabbing at designing my own patterns, mainly for teaching, on the side. I am very pleased to have been able to develop this interest of mine further, with the creation of the Eildon Hills Designs label that means so much to me.

It means a lot to me because it symbolises so many aspects that are at the heart of what I do and believe in: it is local, it is where I live and love to spend my time; it reflects the ideas of nature, the outdoors, walking, sightseeing, changing beauty, and being an intricate part of the Scottish Borders landscape.

I believe in feeling grateful and enjoying where you live, but also enjoying the people who are an intrinsic part of your surroundings. As a crafter and designer, this naturally points to the community of very talented independent yarn and textile producers, dyers, crafters, retailers etc...that are in such abundance in the Borders and beyond. My design adventure would not be half as interesting and exciting, if it was not connected to working with and highlighting the beautiful products and collaborations that form part of both the local and wider textile crafts community.

Helen Houston - Reffel Textiles

Helen comes from a long line of Shetland Fair Isle hand knitters and learned to knit aged four (before she could read and write), knitting her first jumper while at primary school and learning the craft of Fair Isle from her Mum and Granny.

Attending a high school that promoted careers in medicine and law, Helen was just not of this mould, aged 16 she was told ‘to get a nice little job in a nice little office’. With a lot of determination and night classes Helen gained a place at The Scottish College of Textiles (now Heriot Watt Uni) to study Textile Design and has never looked back.

She works part time as the textile expert for ScotWeave software, teaching other designers how to get the most out of weave CAD/CAM technology while keeping up to date with textile advances. The rest of her time is spent as a designer maker for her knitwear brand Reffel and walking where much of her inspiration comes from.

‘I love designing and making, playing with colour within my knitwear is a favourite. It’s my joy helping others learn textile skills’.

Emma Jones - Wee Blue Press

Emma became fascinated with printmaking as an antedote to digital and web design. She loves sketching with and painting, getting covered in ink and using beautiful tools to create art.

Having experimented with linocut printmaking and monoprinting, she bought her own press - the wee blue press - which is neat enough to fit in her small studio/office. Over the last five years she has experimented with intaglio techniques, lithography and screen print. She also work with watercolour, ink and collage.

She documents her emotional reaction to the landscape around her using drawing, printing and natural materials.

Emma lives in the Scottish Borders with her husband and three kids, and two spaniels. 

Eta Ingham Lawrie

Eta Ingham Lawrie was born in Offenbach am Main, Germany. While still at school, she started helping out in the tapestry studio Mohrhardt/Richter in Offenbach, subsequently moving to The Netherlands in 1961, where she worked at the Het Paapje studio in Voorschoten. From 1961-62 she attended the Royal College of Art in London but, as there was no tapestry department at the time, she decided to freelance, designing and making her own wall-hangings initially in London and later in Kings Langley and Bovingdon, Hertfordshire. In 1964, she took a textile research trip to Finland and from 1972-78 was a part-time lecturer in visual arts and later creative textiles at Middlesex Polytechnic. In 1985, Eta relocated to Wales and since 1986 has been giving courses in weaving and natural dyeing nationally and at the Trigonos Centre in Nantlle, North Wales, as well as giving demonstrations to groups and guilds and continuing her freelance work.

Since 1964, Eta has taken part in many group exhibitions, both in the British Isles and overseas and has had over forty solo exhibitions. Her work has gone to private and public buildings and collections in Britiain, Europe and internationally. She now lives and works from her studio in Duns, Berwickshire.

Emily Moir

Emily Moir’s abstract paintings awaken the viewer's appreciation of the joy and beauty inherent all around us in this stunning part of the country, the Scottish Borders. Originally studying sculpture, building installations, Emily has a natural curiosity with how we interact and react to the environment around us.

Emily lives in Galashiels, where she takes people on guided art hikes on the hills around Galashiels - leaving from the Hike and Bike Hub. 

In workshops led by Emily, you are encouraged to find and develop your own visual voice by experimenting and playing with mixed mediums and subject matters, with support to explore your emotional response to your immediate environment. 

Elsa Ness

Hello, I’m Elsa. I am a French lady who loves Scotland, its landscapes and its people.

I have been working with children for many years but I never tire of witnessing the magic of young minds creating art out of simple materials.

They all have their unique vision and story to tell and my aim is to offer them a space where they can follow their imagination and express themselves through craft.

Hannah Park

Mummy, maker and mayhem curator. Hannah has a background in Arts and an huge interest in crafts. She has recently started working with children showing them there's a real joy and sense of achievement to be had in creating something for themselves.

Joy Parker

Joy Parker took her first breath in the Nilgiri Hills of Southern India, a country she returns to for artistic inspiration again and again. Her artistic awakening was at the age of five when she confronted Mahishaura, the buffalo Demon in Mysore. The magnificence and the mystery never left her and set a desire in her to make large and colourful work. However, with a move to Britain and a puritanical upbringing that preferred white walls and humility, she went into career in librarianship. With a move to Scotland and a marriage to the creative writer Robert Leach, who believed in her art, she began to study art formally, gaining an MFA in Fine Art from the University of Cumbria.

She now specialises in mosaic, though she continues to explore other mediums such as printing and painting. In particular, she loves portraiture in in whichever medium she chooses. She has a WASPS studio in Selkirk.

Lindsay Roberts - The Border Tart

I'm inspired by colour and pattern, passionate about India, her artisans and textiles, and I value most highly all things made by hand. Trading as The Border Tart, I combine these forces in my own dyed yarns and small edition stitching kits. Making by hand brings so many benefits and imbues each piece with love. Encouraging and enabling people to find the joy in simple stitches, giving them the materials and confidence to explore and enjoy the making process, is the great pleasure of running workshops.

Lynne Sneddon - fresaichigo

Lynne began her creative journey as a child, learning to knit from her grand and mum by making clothes for her dolls. After a huge gap in creativity Lynne got back into knitting and developed a love of Fairisle knitting as she watched the colourful patterns emerge with every row.

After picking bits of sheep fleece off fences during a walk up the Pentland Hills, Lynne became obsessed with turning this waste wool into woven bookmarks. On learning entire sheep fleeces were being wasted as they were worth very little to farmers, Lynne went on a woolly journey by rescuing a brown Beltex fleece. She taught herself to wash, card and spin it, knitting it up into a jumper to prove it was more than just for compost. Now with a passion for learning about every wool innovation possible, she can tell you why wool shouldn’t be wasted. Wool lipstick anyone?

Magdalena Sobula

Since I remember, there was always yarn in our house. I grew up watching my mum and auntie knitting and crocheting and very early I became an enthusiastic crafter myself.

After moving to Scotland with my family I ran a small business, Stitching a Rainbow, selling custom made patchwork blankets and small crochet makes. I stopped in 2016, when I decided to turn my love of yarn and fabrics into a career.

I enrolled for BA in Design for Textiles Associate Programme with Glasgow Clyde College and Heriot-Watt University and followed with Master’s Degree, graduating in 2021.

I am a weave designer, self proclaimed alpaca fibre ambassador, knitter, crocheter, spinner and it brings me a great joy to share my passions with others.

In addition to leading workshops At Birkhill House CIC, I also run my own small business, Soft Stories Design.

Sunshine Stewart - My Mama Knits

Sunshine Stewart is the indie yarn dyer behind My Mama Knits. She was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she grew up surrounded by crafty types both in family and friends, later studying Art and Art History at the University of NM.

Sunshine made Scotland her home in 2004. Along with being the occasional workshop leader, you will most likely find her at Birkhill over excited by colour in the Dye Garden, quietly loving on one of the animals, or openly encouraging others to experiment with all manner of crafts.

Roslyn Whiting - Roslyn Whiting Leathercraft

Roslyn was thirteen, at a youth camp, when she got the opportunity to learn how to hand-tool designs onto leather, and instantly loved it.

"I grew up in the city of Aberdeen.  My Grandparents lived on a croft around 30 miles away in the beautiful Aberdeenshire countryside.  I used to love visiting and felt ‘free’ listening to the birds and animals.  Although I grew up in a city, I had a strong pull to the countryside.  I now live in the small town of Melrose, surrounded by beautiful Scottish Borders countryside.  I use my surrounding countryside as inspiration for my designs making my products unique.

I have an HND in Spatial Design.  Although I don’t use my HND to design interiors and exhibitions anymore, I still use my college drawing board for coming up with new product designs.

I am a detailed person; I like to make the best products I can and work hard to use traditional methods and source quality materials to make products that will last.  I love the thought of my customers enjoying using my products for years.

I enjoy learning and developing my leatherwork skills.  Keep watching my website as I develop new products."

Christie Wilson - Nutmeg and Cece

Nutmeg and Cece began their creative journey in 2014. "After graduating in knitwear design in 2009, I missed being creative and discovered that I enjoyed various crafts outwith what I had studied at university. I love to learn new skills and have enjoyed learning a lot about fibre art over the last few years. Teaching is also one of my passions and I look forward to seeing you at a workshop in the near future."


Birkhill House

Earlston TD4 6AR

email & phone

07779 339 653