The heritage and history of wool.

The heritage and history of wool.

The secret of Scottish knitwear is the cultural heritage and the unique qualities and skills that come from generations of expertise.  At Hebridean Journey we have always relied on this expertise to bring us unrivalled quality in our knitwear and blankets.  Historic methods of weaving and spinning are combined with and a deep understanding of wool as a precious and natural raw material.

The need for wool products in the cool Scottish climate, such as socks, hats, gloves, scarves and sweaters, goes back nearly as far as the kilt.  Weaving in the Scottish Borders began centuries ago as a cottage industry using wool from local sheep, the abundant supply of water from the River Teviot and, of course, the skills of artisan craftsmen and women.

By the late 1800’s, as new dyestuffs and loom types evolved, weaving developed into a thriving industry. The term “Tweed” was coined quite accidentally in 1826 as the result of a misread label on a shipment of woven wool “Tweels” – the Scots dialect word for twill – from weaver William Watson & Sons of Commercial Road, Hawick, to a London cloth merchant. The word “Tweel” had perhaps not been written clearly on the label but to the merchant “Tweed” made complete sense as these fabrics were chiefly used in those days by gentlemen for shooting and fishing, with the nearby river Tweed.

Wool is nature’s most versatile fibre, it has such a complex combination of properties that no other material, natural or man-made can match it. Wool is biodegradable, super soft, warm and breathable and its fibres have a unique surface structure of overlapping scales called cuticle cells.  The surface structure of wool is therefore very different from synthetic fibres, which have a very smooth surface. It is this layered surface structure allows the fibres to take on a much deeper consistent colour. 

Wool also biodegrades naturally, so it doesn't accumulate in landfill and oceans. Wool will still shed fibres during washing, but these fibres will break down naturally, without causing any harmful effects to the environment.  As long as there is grass to graze on, every year sheep will produce a new fleece; making wool a renewable fibre source. Woolgrowers in the UK actively work to safeguard the environment and improve efficiency, endeavouring to make the wool industry sustainable for future generations. 

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