Scottish Knitting Wool from Seafaring Sheep!
We are delighted to add the Birlinn Yarn Company's beautiful yarns to our range of knitting wools and patterns. Founded by Meg Rodger in 2015 on the Island of Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, Meg and her family rear pedigree Hebridean sheep on their croft and have produced a range of limited edition knitting wool from the fleeces. Working together with other local crofters who share her values for consideration for the island's ecology and sustainable practice, Meg has produced a collection of knitting wool in a range of natural shades.
Fondly referred to as "Seafaring Sheep", Meg ensures her flock are given a varied diet in order to obtain an optimal soft yarn for knitting. She transports them by boat to neighbouring islands to feed on the rich machair (low lying fertile grassy plains).
The sheep lamb on the croft in the spring and are ferried to summer grazing on neighbouring islands in the Sound of Harris. Around July, the sheep are sheared on the islands with the wool sorted and graded at the croft. In the autumn, the ewes are brought back for tupping, after which they spend most of the winter on the Machair common grazing.
What is Machair?
One of the rarest habitats in Europe, and only found in the north and west coasts of Scotland, and the west coast of Ireland, "Machair" is a Gaelic word meaning fertile, low-lying grassy plain. It is formed from lime-rich shell sand washed up thousands of years ago, and eroded from dunes by powerful winds, spreading the sand inland. Light cattle-grazing, hay cutting and low intensity rotational crop farming (free of artificial fertilisers or pesticides) has shaped the Machair landscape.
The abundance of common flowers found growing on the machair are a feast for the eyes in the summer months, with red clover, bird’s-foot-trefoil, yarrow and daisies interspersed with irises, orchids and hay meadows.
The natural un-dyed colours of the Birlinn Yarn wool range from a rich Peaty Brown of the Hebridean fleece (shown above), to Storm Grey (a blend of Hebridean and Cheviot), Haar (meaning sea mist) and Bog Cotton (natural white from the Cheviot sheep).
If you'd like to try out one of Meg's own knitting patterns we have the Myrtle Headband, named after Arctic explorer Myrtle Simpson and comprising four beautiful shades inspired by the purple and pink heather, grey-green lichen, peat and granite rock of the Cairngorms mountain range in the Highlands of Scotland.
Alternatively why not try out the exquisite Machair Cushion in bog cotton white? The patterns depict the leaves and buds of the wild flowers of the Machair amongst seed heads of rye.