It’s that time of year again. The wool is piling up, and the point comes where, if we’re not to be overwhelmed by the stuff, sorting the great and the good from the condemned-to-the-compost-heap has to start here and now. Here’s Denise sorting and grading the Cheviot coming in from an Eriskay neighbour. She has the skills at her fingertips! I merely set up the make-shift grading table, and do all the heavy lifting. And supply long cold drinks. It’s a warm day for warm work : mid 20s in the shade, and here at the front of the house is a south-facing sun-trap. But D likes it hot!
Wool ready at start of day, waiting for the skilled grader to arrive.
Denise grading Cheviot wool supplied by a crofting neighbour. Tilly and Tom helpinig!
Denise grading Cheviot wool supplied by a crofting neighbour.
Facebook keeps telling us that It’s been a while since we’ve posted about The Hebridean Woolshed. There’s xxxx people waiting to hear from us, apparently. Well, some of those seem to be so anxious to hear from us that they decided to visit the Woolshed in person (here in South Uist, that is) : that would explain why this season has got off to an unprecedented, busy start. We’ve been working day and night (well, okay, into the evenings) trying to keep up!
The problem is that people keep buying what we have on the shelves – and just replacing what we’ve sold takes up so much time, never mind making anything new! We’re brimming with ideas we want to experiment with, develop into new items for sale, and new ways of presenting what we make, but it’s difficult to find the time for continuity of thought and simply time enough to make progress. We really would like to!
One thing that has – at long last! – come to fruition, is some new variations on the theme of Natural Wools – that is, undyed naturally coloured wool from our own Hebridean sheep, and from our neighbours’ Cheviot sheep.
Today, several months after we sent the sorted, graded fleece off to the micro-mill for processing, the postie delivered several boxes of our new Beinn Sgiathan 3-ply Aran wool yarn. We were very excited to unpack the wools; but also a somewhat anxious as to what we would find. It’s the first time we’ve specified a blend of two different wools ; we had to overcome our worry that the result would have neither the character and warmth of the Hebridean, nor the simplicity and light of the Cheviot – but would prove to be bland and boring.
But, as we opened up the first box, we couldn’t help burst out with exclamations of delight. The yarn we’ve created is, if anything, more than the sum of its parts. It’s a yarn that’s rocks tumbling down the scree-strewn north face of Beinn Sgiathan in Eriskay (we’ve named this new yarn after the hill), boulders speckled with lichens ; it’s wind-torn seas, it’s scudding storm clouds, the high walls of our historic kitchen garden.
Another innovation (well, for us) is to have some of the wool from our Hebridean ewes and rams returned to us as Roving – taken from the process that immediately precedes the spinning itself. This means we can now offer hand-spinners and craft felters the chance to buy selected quality wool from our own An Gàrradh Mòr flock of Hebridean sheep – but in a form that is highly convenient and increasingly popular amongst spinners and others.
These changes have led us to revise or reorganize some pages of this website, and we’ve taken the opportunity to re-energize the content with new pictures. The main change is that Hebridean and Cheviot pages have now been combined into a new page Natural Wools.
So, off you go, explore! Your feedback would be very welcome.