Every October the Campaign for Wool celebrate Wool Week, this year they are celebrating the versatility of natural wool with a series of talks, workshops and special events. Leading textile industry experts and university students from across the country will gather in Yorkshire to discuss career opportunities within the textiles industry. There will be mill tours, detailed discussions and access to industry expertise.
We thought we’d turn our eyes a little further north to the absolute wealth of weaving and knitting mills in Scotland. Wool has a rich heritage in Scotland and so here is a list of some of some places to get your designs made. You can see a full list of Scottish wool manufacturers here.
Working closely with each client Araminta Campbell work closely with each client to create their own unique designs. Their production is all Scottish based and can incorporate specialist finishes… including a bespoke alpaca service!
From their category A listed mill in the the Spey Valley, Knockando Mill produces tweeds and tartans alongside providing knitting yarns and accessories. They use Victorian looms and spinning mules in their production. Typical clients include sporting estates, bespoke corporate commission and specialist retailers.
Di Gilpin are a knitwear design studio dedicated to using only the finest wools and Scottish Cashmere. Each piece is made by a small team of creative and skilled knitters in Scotland under the direction of Sheila Greenwell. Di herself has over 30 years experience in the industry and converted the bothy next to her home to house the design studio. They have their own line and work to commision.
Specialising in designing and weaving high quality wool upholstery fabrics, Bute Fabrics based on the Isle of Bute have been in business for over 70 years. They count Buckingham Palace, Yale and the Wimbledon Royal Box amongst their clients. There is an in-house design studio to work through specific designs, and an archive for inspiration too. Ideally you’d understand technical specifications already (e.g file types or quantities) and can come with a budget and project timeline.
Working closely with clients on a partnership basis or on one off exclusive projects, Alex Begg & Co are high end weavers of scarves and throws. They have over 150 years experience of weaving fabrics and use Angora, Cashmere Silk and Fine Merino Wools in their production process.
Sam Goates is a textile weaver supplying bespoke woollen cloth to tailors, designers and small businesses. One of the brilliant things about Sam’s work is that no previous knowledge is required if you would like to commission cloth – an idea of colours, quantity and timeframe is helpful, but you can just get in contact with an idea.
Knitwear accessory manufacturer Robert Mackie have in-house designers that work alongside their technicians to interpret customer design. They stock over 140 shades of lambswool which go into making their hats, scarves, gloves and throws.
Focussing on cashmere and fine fabrics, Johnstons of Elgin The company offer a full design and manufacture process, where clients can work alongside the in-house design team to develop their own new products. Products include knitwear and knitted accessories (hats, scarves, gloves, socks) using traditional frame knitting machines through to Shima WHOLEGARMENT. Johnstons also processs all of their wool from start to finish (something called full vertical integration) which means that if you go on a tour of the Elgin site you can see the entire process!
Combining craft and technology Esk Valley Knitwear are focussed on working with natural and noble fibres (silk and cashmere) with spinners in Scotland and Italy. Often ESK will work with clients searching for unusual yarns or to understand new techniques for a particular project. The garments are manufactured in house, allowing absolute control over production.
Eribe Knitwear are one of the largest hand knitting companies in Europe, using a network of hand knitters in the surrounding community. They also have a comprehensive archive where you can discover knitting techniques.
Make Works Tip 💡
If you are developing a new range it is best to visit wool factories in the winter. The summer months are their busiest, visiting in winter means you will have time to work on your idea with your manufacturer.