At the beginning, there is a sheep, or rather, quite a lot of them. They are wearing what we eventually turn into tweed, throws, scarves and more.
Wool is the most fantastic fibre and we love working with it. It is natural, warm, breathable, resilient and elastic, easy to care for, odour resistant and biodegradable. And, sheep re-grow it every year!
Sheep used to be clipped with hand shears, but now most people use electric shears. Shearing or clipping is a real skill, but looks deceptively easy if done by a good shearer. Every move has been perfected by repetition over hundreds or thousands of times. Sheep and shearer are in constant motion, changing position to achieve the all-round haircut. A shearer we know used to say clipping is like a dance with the sheep.
We often use the natural sheep colours in our weaving and like to think of all the sheep that contributed to that particular item.
On Skye we are surrounded by hundreds of sheep and we love to use local wool when we can. About 40% of our products are made from Skye Wool, which we source directly from local farmers and crofters. We visit them personally at shearing time and select the best quality fleeces. These are then washed, carded and spun to create yarns for the following year’s weaving. As there is no spinning mill on Skye, this process takes place at specialist processors in the north of England.
The Skye climate and rough grazing are perfect for breeding tough sheep, who are hardy against the cold. This makes their yarn perfect for warm throws and hard-wearing tweed. But for the softest yarn we need to source wool from milder climes further south. For the very softest items such as baby blankets we use ultra-soft Merino wool from New Zealand and Australia.