Uist Wool

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The green roof of the Uist Wool new base
The green roof of the Uist Wool new base

elements of a scientific research paper The Outer Hebrides – to me – is not remote, on the edge or distant and I physically wince when I hear these words used to describe the place I live. In 2016 I feel totally connected to the rest of the world through technology, transport and television.
Islanders have always had an outward looking attitude and I feel the same way.  Many leave to find work on the mainland but still feel very emotive about their origins and frequently return to top up their cultural essence – buying Stornoway black puddings, peat-smoked sea salt and candles called Seilebost to carry a tangible part of the Hebrides back home.  The people involved in these businesses have put their energy into making something work for their communities, providing employment and opportunities to keep the circle of life turning in the Outer Hebrides.

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Shearing Cheviot at Liniclate, Benbecula
Shearing Cheviot at Liniclate, Benbecula

literature coursework help Spurred on by Libby’s story, the Wool Development Group (WDG) started to research the options for setting up a Mill in North Uist.  It was at this point that I got involved with the project as a volunteer.  The last spinning mill on the island had closed in 1965 and although local people recalled the industry the knowledge of mill engineering had disappeared from the community.

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dissertation on the weaving of drall I’d love to say that the first funder we approached gave us the cash gladly.  This wasn’t the case and we felt badly stung by the rejection.  How could anyone say no to such a great idea? Thus, the long trek to getting the finance to build the Mill started.

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Dana, blithely unaware of the amount of work involved in setting up a Mill, Argyll, 2011
Dana, blithely unaware of the amount of work involved in setting up a Mill, Argyll, 2011

research paper on parking problems On the legal side, Uist Wool was registered as a Community Benefit Society and Scottish Charity in Summer 2011 supporting our main aims in heritage & traditional textile crafts; education & training; community development and environmental protection. We are a non-profit organisation which could be classed as a social enterprise in the current charitable trading landscape. This governance structure allows Uist Wool to trade and put any profits back into the organisation to pursue our core aims. My personal campaign is to ensure that crofters and wool growers get a better return for their wool. If we do well as a Mill, the benefit gets passed back to the crofter or farmer with an increase in the annual wool clip payments. It might not be a huge sum at first but a small step towards turning the tide.

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Trainees take part in a wool grading workshop
Trainees take part in a wool grading workshop

research paper middle school topics This professional openness has been the common denominator in all my dealings with different specialists in the wool sector. People have been keen to pass on their insights and experiences within the industry to help us move forward with our plans. No closed doors, no secrets, no rude words – just folks being kind. This means a lot when you’re a novice to the trade and trying hard to look like you know the difference between a doffer and a licker-in.

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Lachie MacDonald. the last weaver on Grimsay, opens the completion of the mill building in 2013
Lachie MacDonald. the last weaver on Grimsay, opens the completion of the mill building in 2013

boy in the striped pyjamas essay conclusion Naively we thought that wool could be sorted and graded in the Mill. Oh dear, how wrong can you be? An opportune application to a time-limited Scottish Government initiative, the Enterprise Ready Fund, brought us the Wool Shed in January 2014. This classic Nissan Hut is a very special place and has made an immense difference in how we manage our wool stock. We love our Wool Shed and everyone involved in handling fleece in quantity knows the value in having a dedicated place for this activity.

CALANAS trainees grading and sorting in the new wool shed in 2015
CALANAS trainees grading and sorting in the new wool shed in 2015

sample of a good term paper In April 2016, the new team of employees started at Uist Wool. Two full-time engineers, Madeleine Ostling and Neil Monk; 3 part-time production assistants, Fiona Morrison, Margaret J. MacIsaac and Maggie Howarth; plus one full-time Director, me. Recently we’ve added another member to our happy band, Mill Manager, Hazel Smith. Of this group six took part in the CALANAS training programme.

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uist-11-originally-a-calanas-trainee-hazel-smith-is-the-new-mill-manager-at-uist-wool
Madeleine Ostling, Mill Engineer (Technical) carrying skeins up to the Wash House.

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Uist Wools first Harris Tweed, using Hebridean Blackface cross wool from 9 different crofts.
Uist Wools first Harris Tweed, using Hebridean Blackface cross wool from 9 different crofts.

work cited mla format research paper It gives me great joy to see wool clip coming in, being graded, washed, dried, carded, spun and finished entirely on site in Grimsay. We treat the wool with loving care and value its origins but know the yarn must leave its birthplace and go exploring in the world, a little bit of our material culture in your hands – it feels good to share at long last.

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7 thoughts on “Uist Wool

  1. Well done to you all on your vision and hard work. I also would love some of this wool once made into tweed as I am originally from South Uist and my husband used to weave Harris Tweed. Could you keep me updated on where this Tweed will be made. All the best for the future

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