I bought my first 3 breeding Zwartbles from Danny McArthy who is the stockman at Longoe farm , at Castle of Mey, Caithness- (The Queen Mother’s Highland Farm) (Pentland Flock ) so, to keep the theme I called mine ‘the Copinsay flock. They are a striking looking sheep, black with a white blaze, originating from Holland, they are really easy to manage and are excellent mothers.
Jean Tulloch asked me what like their wool would be to spin, so she sent the first fleeces to the North Ronaldsay mini-mill. ‘What are we going to do with the wool’ Jean asked….I think we’ll knit socks Jean. Me mother usually gave us all socks at Christmas which came from ‘baxters bonny socks’ but they had stopped making them, so I thought we could make wur own ! Jean had this sock knitting machine which her mother had used in North Ronaldsay, so of course I had to have one o them as weel. I was lucky enough to get one off ebay. It is over 100 years old and very ornate, but it works perfectly
It soon became obvious that I was never going to manage to knit socks to use up all the wool the sheep was going to produce so I thought I would see if I could get some rugs made.
I contacted Jamiesons Spinning Mill in Shetland to see if it could be done and they said yes, but I would have to send up at least 200 kilos of raw wool before they could process it. So I managed to source some more black wool from other farmers and I added some white wool as well and shipped 650 kilos to Shetland.
I began to think that this is going to make a good twathree blankets ……. So I was in Fiona Mitchells shop (Castaway Crafts) in Dounby one day and enquired if she might manage to sell some blankets for me, and told her what I had done…her face lit up …I have been dying for somebody to do that she said, ask them to make tweed……..
So Orkney Tweed was born.
I can see I will have to get more Zwartbles.
Our ultimate goal of course is to have the tweed woven in Orkney….
Watch this space 🙂