Wool Week The Campaign for Wool celebrates everything about wool annually and given that wool is at the core of almost all of our tartans then we are certainly up for a celebration. The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour initiated by its patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, in order to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool. To celebrate this we look at the journey from sheep to tartan. National Wool Week kicked off in 2014 with a wool ride on Sunday 5th October. Over 300 cyclists rode through the centre of London to celebrate everyone's favourite natural fibre. Throughout the cycle riders were greeted by a flock of sheep, woolly installations galore and models wearing some amazing wool designer creations from The Campaign for Wool Collection. From Sheep to Tartan - Sheep All of our wool tartan fabrics start life with a super cool Scottish sheep and once the sheep are in perfect condition the wool is then harvested from the sheep. This is also known as shearing. Washing, Blending and Carding Once all the wool has been collected it is cleaned to remove all dirt, lanolin and other foreign materials from the wool before any further processing is attempted. Once cleaned the wool is then blended, bleached, and dyed to each necessary colour. Which as you can imagine for over 500 tartans involves many colour combinations! The next stage is carding a mechanical process that disentangles and intermixes fibres so that they aligned ready to be turned in to yarn. The term carding originally derived from the Latin carduus meaning teasel, as dried vegetable teasels were first used to comb the raw wool. Nowadays small metal teasels are used in this process. Spinning Spinning transforms the wool in to yarn, all of the wool fibres are drawn out and twisted together to form the yarn. The direction in which the yarn is spun is called twist,yarns are characterized as S-twist or Z-twist according to the direction of spinning and the tightness of the twist is measured in TPI. Yarns can be made of two, three, four, or more plies, or may be used as singles without plying. Weaving Weaving turns yarn in to fabric, all of the yarn is set out in the specific colour order for each of the different tartan patterns which is know as the warp, once arranged is fed in to the loom vertically, an extremely intricate process ensuring the order of yarn is correct. Once in to the loom specific sections of the warp thread will be lifted up at certain stages so that yarn can be interwoven horizontally know as the weft. Once this has been interwoven yarn in both the warp and the weft is combined to create the fabric. So there you go - from sheep to tartan! There are lots of fabulous mill tours in the Scottish Borders where we are based so if you want to see the whole process in action then you know where to book your next holiday.