2018 marks the 8th Annual North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference, held here in Uist.

 13th – 15th September 2018

Conference Details




Registration and gathering




09.00- 12.30 Welcome & Lectures in Iochdar Hall, South Uist


Uist Wool (Welcome)

The Hebridean Sheep Society

Meg Roger


Renske van den Tempel

Daniel Hansen


12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.45 – 19.00 Site visits (including coffee break)

19.15               Evening Meal at Tigh Sgire, Sollas, North Uist or the Polachar Inn, South Uist





09.00- 12.30 Day 1 summary & Lectures in Iochdar Hall, South Uist


Sue Blacker

Dorthea Joensen

Joanna Spreadbury

Netty Sopata

Donald MacSween

Louise Scollay

12.30 – 13.30 Lunch

13.45 – 19.00 Site visits (including coffee break)

19.15 Evening Meal at Tigh Sgire, Sollas, North Uist or the Polachar Inn, South Uist




06.00            Bus departs from Iochdar Hall for Berneray Ferry

07.15             Ferry departs

08.15-17.05 Site visits

18.05            Ferry arrives in Berneray

19.00- late  Conference dinner & ceilidh


Conference Speakers

Meg Roger

Meg Rodger and her family rear Hebridean sheep from her croft at Sunhill, Isle of Berneray and on off shore islands in the Sound of Harris. In collaboration with other local crofters, she produces knitting yarn and sheepskins sold through her business The Birlinn Yarn Company. In addition, her family run Sunhill Hebridean Hogget dispatching mail order Hebridean meat boxes across the UK.

Meg is a practicing visual artist, has several other businesses and has worked in social, economic and cultural development since arriving in the islands over twenty years ago.


Renske van den Tempel

Renske is a former dutch sheep farmer from the island of Texel. She has worked with wool all her life.

Renske is the owner of De Noordkroon where she trades self-developed, lanoline-based creams.  Besides being Texel’s yarn producer, she’s also a wool specialist.

She’s currently writing a book about the island’s cultural history of wool. She’s also starting up the Texel wool guild.


Netty Sopata

Netty Sopata established ‘Diggory Brown’ a Kilt Making and Design business in Ness on The Isle of Lewis over ten years ago. She specialises in applying traditional techniques, to create contemporary garments on a bespoke level.

Her passion for locally woven cloth has formed the foundation  of her work and over the past six years she has worked with local weavers to develop designs to showcase the weaving yarn produced at Uist Wool. In 2018 the first batch of ‘Diggory Brown’ wool from their flock of Hebridean Sheep, was processed by Uist Wool and woven into Harris Tweed by Taobh Tuath Tweed.


Daniel Hansen

Daniel Hansen grew up on a sheep and cattle farm in the most West part of Iceland. His education is in Agriculture, Biology and the Icelandic language.

After 35 years as a teacher and headmaster, Daniel is now retired. He now lives in the North-East part of Iceland, where he set up and runs the Leadersheep Information Centre; the only one in the world dedicated to the unusual Icelandic Leadersheep.

Louise Scollay

Since 2012 Louise has been writing and podcasting of her adventures in British wool exploration. Showing support for small wool businesses in the UK is really important to her, as is encouraging others to seek out and support their own local wool and fibre. When not adventuring with wool at knitbritish.net   Louise is found working in library stacks, in Edinburgh.


Donald MacSween

Donald MacSween is a crofter from Ness, Isle of Lewis. Born into a crofting family, Donald spent time working for the BBC and local council, while simultaneously setting up a crofting business. Today he is a full time crofter, with 600 hens, 150 breeding ewes, as well as highland cattle and pigs. Eggs, meat and products such as yarn and lambskin rugs are sold direct to customers.

Outwith crofting, Donald also presents some programmes for BBC Alba, Scotland’s Gaelic language tv channel.

Susan Blacker

Sue Blacker, Managing Director of Blacker Sheep Limited leads The Natural Fibre Company team who spin yarns for British and European small holders and fibre producers.  After a business background in London, Cornish born Sue returned to her native roots in 1989 and bought the business from its previous owners when they retired in 2005, making various improvements and keeping the Organic accreditation. The business is now around 8 times the size and has a hand knitting yarn brand, Blacker Yarns, which specialises in rare and limited breeds and blends with direct provenance.  Sue is herself a shepherd and has had pedigree Gotland sheep since 1995.


Joanna Spreadbury

Joanna Spreadbury recently graduated from studying Product Design at the University of Edinburgh. Having worked alongside Uist Wool, as well as partnering with guilds and businesses around the UK, Joanna’s final project explored the Scottish Blackface sheep and the practical and creative uses for the whole sheep. Collaboration underpins Joanna’s work, with many projects seeking to encourage interactions and form community. As one who seeks to create tangible realities from broad critical theories, she is fascinated by the role of the human hand in the creative process, and the craftsmanship that is subsequently developed.


Dorthea Joensen

I am a born farmer, and have been running the family farm – together with my family – for more than 20 years. On the farm at Signabøgarður we have 240 mother sheep and 10 Faroese Ponies.

I have a banking education, but have been working as a secretary at Búnaðarstovan – The Agricultural Agency – on the Faroe Islands, for 15 years. In this time, I have taken a one-year agricultural course, arranged by Búnaðarstovuni. One of my assignments has been to arrange the Faroese wool collection in 2016 and 2018.

More information

What is the North Atlantic Native Sheep and Wool Conference?

The Conference was established in 2010 by Norwegian Karin Flatoy Svarstad to bring together sheep and wool workers of the North Atlantic region to collectively discuss the difficulties facing native breed sheep today.

The result is a multi-day conference, each year held in a different associated region, focussing on shepherding, food and woollen crafts, well attended by delegates from Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Germany, France, Scotland, England, the Isle of Man, the Faroe Islands, and beyond.


How do I get to Uist?

There are two ways to reach the Outer Hebrides- by sea or by air.

For ferrys visit Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac), these ferries run from various locations in Scotland to reach North or South Uist. The two main ports for reaching us are Lochmaddy and Lochboisdale.

By plane, you can travel with LoganAir to Benbecula Airport from Glasgow, Inverness and sometimes from Edinburgh.


What is a North Atlantic Native Sheep?

Also known as the Northern European Short-Tailed sheep breeds, the name refers to a collection of breeds spread across the Northern areas of Europe. Considered to be a primitive strain of sheep, they are believed to have travelled with the Norse vikings in the 11th Century, with each settled area claiming their own distinctive sheep today.

The sheep are characterised by their ability to live in harsh climates, their short tapered tail, and their double fleece. They are often coloured sheep, and often come in a variety of colours.

Associated breeds include: Norwegian villsau, Icelandic, Faroese, Manx Loaghtan, Shetland, Gotland, North Ronaldsay, plus our own 3; Boreray, Soay, and Hebridean.

Where can I stay in Uist?

The Outer Hebrides Tourism website Visit Outer Hebrides has all the information you need and will guide you through a comprehensive list of accommodation providers throughout the Uist island chain.

Where can I sign up for conference activities?

Online Registration for the conference is now closed. You can still attend the morning lectures at Iochdar Hall by registering at the venue on the day of the event.

You can purchase a ticket for the full conference weekend, or to attend the lectures only.

If you wish to attend all activities for a single day, please get in touch via the “Contact Us” page of the website and we can accommodate you where possible (numbers permitting).

Full Conference Tickets include:

All talks, visits & buses, lunches, evening meals Thursday- Saturday. Transport to Iochdar Hall to be confirmed.

Ticket prices (including 3rd party booking fees):

Full Conference Ticket £260

Lectures only, single day £22

Lectures only, two days £36