Jeremy & Helen Long
At home with small children, Helen started her craft business called Padraig in 1977. She returned to her childhood love of wool, experienced while growing up on a hill sheep farm in Scotland. Not only was she influenced by her childhood but also by three fascinating years living in small Indian communities in the Northwest Territories. Spinning, dyeing, weaving, and knitting became a major part of her life. With the discovery of the Indian Head Spinning Wheel and Salish weaving she experienced a sense of freedom in her craft, taking freely from both cultures.
Her use of colour reflects this clearly. Her husband, Jeremy, working as a mechanic at this time became intrigued with Helen's spinning and Helen taught him the basics. He began to supply her with the majority of the her yarn requirements for her various projects. Faced with an active small son who refused to on his footwear while playing on a concrete basement floor, she experimented with warm slippers. Nothing worked until she noticed him sitting curling his toes with obvious enjoyment on a sheepskin rug. The first Padraig slipper was made. Throughout the following years as Helen experimented and developed her skills with different processes and projects the Padraig slipper seemed to develop a life of its own, refusing to be set aside or ignored.
20 years ago, she gave in and, together with her husband, Jeremy set up a cottage industry with the Padraig slipper as the mainstay of the business. With the emphasis now clearly on the slippers many changes and improvements were made to meet the demand of a much wider market place.