Dornoch Firth and Kyle of Sutherland

I’ve been a little quiet here lately but there has been lots going on behind the scenes – some of it very exciting and some of it just plain fun!  I thought you might like to hear about one of my most enjoyable days in recent weeks.  It really didn’t feel like work at all.

A little while ago I heard about a flock of Ryelands near Lairg and that there might still be a few fleeces left from 2016’s clip.  Since Ryeland sheep is one of the breeds I have on my mental (and rather aspirational) list that I’d like to source for Black Isle Yarns I duly contacted John and Emma – and was delighted to learn that they had set aside some fleeces in case any local crafters wanted to buy them.  A couple of weeks later I made the trip north to their croft a few miles beyond Lairg.  It was a beautifully frosty day with temperatures well below freezing and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the chance to spend a day out in the stunning ‘Far North’.

Freezing fog at Lairg

John and Emma clearly love their flock and chose Ryelands for their gentle and calm nature – despite scepticism from their North Country Cheviot breeding neighbouring crofters.  I haven’t ‘met’ Ryelands before and was very taken with them, they have a teddy-bear like appearance and these ones were incredibly friendly.  The whole flock came rushing over for head rubs (and feed) as soon as we appeared.  Have you ever been lucky enough to cuddle a Ryeland?

I duly inspected the fleeces and am delighted to say that I bought what was available. They have joined some other lovely fleeces in my shed and will be off down to The Border Mill in February – ready for a new batch of yarn which should be released in mid March.  If the fleeces spin successfully I have earmarked more from this special flock from next summer’s clip.

Ryeland ewe

One sad part to the day was hearing from John how little he received for the majority of their fleeces which were sold in the usual way.  He commented that the last payment he received was 80 pence per white fleece and 18 pence per coloured fleece.  A sad fate for wool which, I hope, will make lovely yarn.  Being able to pay flock owners a good rate for their fleeces is very important to me and is one of my key principles for Black Isle Yarns.

On the way home I stopped at Balblair Forest, just north of Bonar Bridge, for a walk with the dogs.  The views west through the trees were stunning and it was one of those days when I could have walked forever……but had to head home to meet the school bus!

Kyle of Sutherland from Balblair Forest
Balblair Forest
Looking north and west from Balblair Forest