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January 29, 2014

Wrapped in wool

The three P’s of People, Planet and Profit are often used as short hand when trying to nail that illusive concept, sustainability. A community led initiative on North Uist is aiming to apply these same principles to a new enterprise designed to bring local crofters and craftspeople together in a way that will restore some of the age old cultural traditions of the island of working with wool – but with a 21st century twist.


Uist Wool

Uist Wool is a community benefit society that will operate a new spinning mill and wool centre on the island of Grimsay in the Outer Hebrides.

With the encouragement of our communities, and from leaders in woolwork from the Harris Tweed Authority to Scottish craftspeople and the Green Mountain Spinnery (Vermont), Uist Wool is on its way to opening a new spinning mill in the Outer Hebrides in 2013.

The Uist Wool Mill will spin local and other fleece into desirable, unusual yarns to supply weavers, craftspeople, and visitors alike. It will help to revitalise this traditional island industry through creating employment, training and workspace using a local asset – wool. Uist Wool will also become a Centre where skills, ideas, design and inspiration are shared by young and old, novices and experts, islanders and visitors alike, through training programmes, workshops and education.

Uist Wool will operate a new spinning mill at Scotvein on the island of Grimsay in the Outer Hebrides that uses a valuable and sustainable resource, wool, to create a high quality spun yarn with a unique Uist style.

After years of community concern about the decline of the traditional woollen industries in the Uists and the upheaval in the Harris Tweed industry, the local Wool Development Group was formed in 2008.  Through a series of community meetings and workshops with the public, crofters and craftspeople from Berneray to Barra and a comprehensive feasibility study completed in 2010, the idea to establish a community based wool-spinning mill was agreed.

Uist Wool has naturally progressed from the comprehensive research and development work undertaken by the Wool Development Group and is now constructing the production area of the Mill, undertaking product trials, creating a visual and digital identity to the enterprise with the goal of launching the first Uist Wool products by Winter 2013.