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A woolly update

...and best wishes for 2024 to our supporters!

It's still January (barely), so we can still wish you all a very happy 2024, right? We know a lot of people were glad to see the back of 2023, and January has already thrown up some challenges for a lot of folk, and not just because of the weather. So, all of us at Highland Wool hope you have all the love and support you need just now, and wish you a healthy, creative – and woolly! - year to come. We’re certainly expecting a lot out of the year for Highland Wool.

We’ve been quiet on our digital platforms lately, partly because we’ve been so busy behind the scenes. We’re now comfortably ensconced in a collection of outbuildings at The Hirsel, with separate spaces for skirting, washing/drying, and picking/carding. We actually have heating and light in all our workspaces for the first time ever, so we can work all year round! We’re still working out the kinks in the system, but the volunteer ‘mill workers’ (Janet Charge, Anna George and Donna Gillies) have been managing to spend one or two days a week in the mill, while Donald continues to iron on the water delivery and recycling design, and we’re very pleased with our progress.

So pleased that we can make a couple of announcements (finally!):

Highland Wool will be attending the Dornoch Fibre Fest (9-10 March) this year, with carded Shetland and Hebridean (100g rolags) for sale. We hope to have a few finished items too, but those ideas are still in development, so stay tuned. And visit their page (Dornoch Fibre Fest) to sign up for workshops and events.

We’ll also be attending the Highland Wool Festival on 25 May, at Strathpeffer Pavilion. (

More news:

  • At the Dornoch Fibre Fest, we’ll start taking reservations for consignment processing – remember: washing and carding only, for now! – of small batches of your fleeces from these two breeds. Announcements about processing other breeds will come later – we’re learning as we go.

  • More information to follow, but for now we can tell you that we’ll be taking reservations for up to 20kilos orders, from flocks anywhere in the Highlands and Islands. Remember though: we can only card 100g rolags from these two breeds, at this time – our rolags will remain this weight until our industrial carder (that many of you helped raise funds to purchase) is operational. Over the course of the year, we hope to find ways to get you all the way to spun, but we’re still working that out. But in addition to the carded wool, we’ll also be able to offer separate services for washing (not scouring) and picking. So if you need a fleece washed, and have no facilities…or if you want it washed and picked (turned into fluff) for further processing at home, we’ll be able to help you with those tasks too.

We hope to see you at one or both of these great festivals. Be sure to stop in at the Highland Wool stall, where someone will be happy to chat with you, and answer any questions you have about where we all go next.

  • Online sales: we should be launching our online sales and reservations services sometime in March, too. Thanks to director Katharine Sharp for working to get that ready for you.

  • Funding news: many of you contributed to our Crowdfunding campaign, to raise funds to rescue/purchase some industrial equipment from where they were stored in a barn in Oban - and the campaign has been a great success! Your generous donations have raised £4161.00, and inspired two loans totalling £2500 as well. We were able to buy the equipment - the Belfast picker is in use now, and Caroline the Sweet Carder is here at the farm awaiting restoration in the spring/summer. The collection (we had to buy the whole collection to get the two machines we wanted) included another carder we couldn't use, and it was sold on to one of the stalwarts of the UK wool world, Paul at Halifax Mill, adding to the machinery he's collecting for his new location. We still have a couple of top-loading industrial washing machines looking for homes, so if these are something you can use, get in touch.

We've been learning to use the equipment, practising on the 270 Shetland fleeces we rescued from landfill last summer, as well as the backlog of Hebridean fleeces from the Hirsel. You’ll see the results in March. Thank you, all of you. Large or small, your donations made all of this possible.

  • More equipment! We’ve recently sourced a nearly new Belfast felting machine, and the farm will be purchasing that for us to share. We’re very excited about this piece of kit, as it will allow us to explore uses for wool unsuitable for spinning or weaving. It’ll take us one step further to living up to our motto of ‘there’s no such thing as waste wool”.

That’s all the news for now. There’s a lot in the pipeline, so we’ll be posting more regularly on this page going forward. Check back soon, and don’t be shy about sharing your thoughts – we’d love to hear from you.

All the best, from the team at Highland Wool!

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