Uist Wool is a social enterprise; as such its role is to put something back into the surrounding community, to support and boost Uist from a human perspective, growing and building for the future. We’re extremely proud of this, and are proud to say so.
What we don’t shout about very much are Uist Wool’s green credentials. We work hard to reduce the potential footprint that, though a small business, industry like ours can generate.
We make the most of renewable energy, harnessing the plentiful wind to support our energy use in the mill and have two 6kw Kingspan turbines that are almost always whizzing away on the hillside beside the Wool Shed.
The new Wool Centre is well-insulated and double glazed, with the heating and hot water supplied by an energy efficient air-source heat pump. We love this system so much that we are in the process of raising funds to install a second air-source heat pump in the Wash House to increase the capacity of the washing machines and more easily manage the greasier fleeces, such as those from the hardy Hebrideans. All our fleeces are washed in-house, where they’re then air-dried passively in the loft above the Wool Centre using residual warmth from floors below. Washing inevitably uses a moderate amount of water, but we wash with a gentle ecological detergent which biodegrades naturally and has a lower impact on the waste water.
A lot of time and energy goes into preparing fleece for carding and spinning. By the time it gets to the Mill we want to make sure all our wool is used productively with minimal waste. The Mill team have introduced the concept of ‘Yarnover’ for re-purposing wool from the initial and final stages of the carding process when our engineers, Madde and Neil, are fine-tuning the fibre blend for spinning.
When there’s sufficient Yarnover collected we get to create a magic mix of all the different wool types carded over a 2-3 month period. Special one-off and limited edition yarns are the result and generally range from a light silver to deep rich storm-cloud in colour.
Two of these beautiful blends are currently available – SIAN in DK & Aran weights plus Cànan (Chunky). Creatively re-purposing these fibres is very important to us at Uist Wool; producing gorgeous yarns in the process is a real bonus.