If you're a fibre lover like me and you've watched even one episode of Outlander, then I'm willing to bet you've dreamt of making something super rustic and highland-esque on more than one occasion.
I'm going to share with you 3 rustic fibres to spin while watching Outlander to help transport you onto that misty mountain top right alongside Claire Fraser.
Cheviot is often described as an 'old fashioned fibre' and in my books old fashioned almost always makes things more appealing. Cheviot fibre comes from Cheviot sheep, wonderfully solid mountain sheep from the Cheviot Hills that lie along the border of England and Scotland.
Cheviot fibre is a creamy white and has a helical crimp, meaning it's super springy and very warm. It holds its shape incredibly well and is prefect for items that will need to withstand long walks through the brambles as you ignore Jamie's directions to 'stay put' and clamber up steep muddy hillsides. For some pattern inspiration click here.
What's more Cheviot fibres are kemp free, meaning no itchy 'hairs' will sneak into your yarns. It takes dyes really well and gives you a very rustic chalky appearance, having no lustre. An average micron count for Cheviot fiber is 27-33 and being a long wool breed you have a wonderful staple length of 4-5 inches.
Cheviot would be ideal for sweaters or vests, outer garments that need to hold their shape and be hard wearing.
Scottish Blackface is as it's name suggests a wonderful Scottish mountain breed that features a super cute black or black and white face. They have super long fleeces in a range of colours and fairly clean black or black and white legs. All Scottish Blackface sheep are horned, some having big super curly horns and others more modest ones.
The Scottish Blackface is another wonderful long wool breed, having an average staple length of 10-14 inches which is super long! Again they are ideal for more rustic garments, having an average micron count of 28-38, which is on the more coarse side. They gained popularity in Scotland in the 1860's due to their hardiness and ability to thrive and reproduce in the rugged mountain regions of north Scotland.
Scottish Blackface would be wonderful spun and knit up into a super chunky cowl or shrug to fend off the cold winds as you travel across the English Channel with your fiery kilted husband and a plot to stop the Jacobite uprising.
If you like adventure and have deep gratitude for the truly rugged and determined then this is your fibre! ( And of course I'm betting you do because that's literally what Outlander gives us, strong characters who can outlast any ill fated circumstance they're faced with! )
North Ronadlsay fibre comes from the North Ronaldsay sheep who call the small island by the same name home. Located just off the North coast of Scotland, North Ronaldsay is the northernmost island of Orkney archipelago.
These incredible sheep are small, fine boned short tailed sheep who have actually adapted to survive almost exclusively on a seaweed diet. Dry stone walls were built around the entire coastline to protect agricultural land from the wild sheep flocks, forcing the North Ronaldsays onto the foreshores. This wall is 19 kms or 12 miles long and reaches 6ft in height, making it one of the largest dry stone walls in the world.
North Ronaldsay fleeces come in a range of colours from white to grey, brown and red and the average micron count is around 28. Being double coated you would ideally use the soft finer fibres for next to skin garments and the outer fibres for more hardwearing outer garments.
They do have shorter fleeces however, with staple lengths around 3 inches, still plenty long enough for many uses but not as long as the previous two Scottish breeds.
North Ronaldsays do have kemp however, so this is truly a super rustic fibre that without loads preparation involving tweezers and lots of patience, may definitely be best suited to outerwear or things like bags and rugs.
Maybe you could spin some wonderful North Ronaldsay fiber to make a small satchel, perfect for those frosty mornings picking herbs to use in your remedies. Plotting ways to escape your captor Colum would certainly be made more enjoyable with a sturdy hand woven satchel by your side.
I hope you loved our little adventure through the Highlands and the Scottish Isles, and I hope you find some Cheviot, Scottish Blackface and North Ronaldsay for your next Outlander session!
And if any of this dreamy Scottish imagery has awakened your travel bug, then please visit my friend Anna over at Olegana Travel Boutique. She runs bespoke tours throughout Europe and even has some trips that focus on visiting Outlander filming locations in Scotland!
And if you'd love to hear more about spinning rustic wool and using it to make some Outlander inspired knits then please listen to my podcast episode about it by clicking here.