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Heatherlea Croft sits in a remote Sutherland Strath in the Scottish Highlands. We are 5th Generation crofters and run a flock of Hill North Country Cheviot sheep alongside our smaller flock of the rare Black Hill North Country Cheviot. A Scottish superstition states that having some black sheep in your flock will bring good luck. We have always kept a couple of black cheviot ewes in our flock of white cheviots. In 2016 one of our oldest ewes, named Black Granny, had a stunning black male lamb. So for the first time in our Heatherlea flock history we kept a black ram lamb entire and we have not looked back. Once mature he was allowed to mate with a small select group of white cheviot ewes in Autumn 2018. We were delighted when his cute black lambs appeared in April 2019. After clipping the wool off our black ewes in the summer the fleeces were graded, washed, carded and spun into skeins. As we are both fond of our croft biodiversity, animal welfare and carbon foot print we decided to carry out all of those processes in an eco-friendly, traditional way; by hand. By selling our wool in local village markets, with some going abroad, we wanted to learn more about our product in the hands of experts. The response we’ve had from knitters near and far has been extremely positive, encouraging us to continue with our next stage and fully embrace the black. 2019 we gave our black ram a much larger group of some of our best performing and fleeced white cheviot ewes with lambs expected from April 2020 onwards.
We were recently featured in The Crofter Magazine, where we could share our thoughts about our ethos, our wool and the process of making it.