Whilst I was off work recovering from my wee overnight in the Royal, my parents took me on a mini road trip to Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. For those of you not acquainted with these parts, the Scottish Borders is kind of the home of Scottish Textiles. There are many weavers still located in the area including Pringle, Johnston's of Elgin and many more. Last year my boss had headed down to Lochcarron Mill to buy fabrics for the shop and told me about their tours. So since I was pretty much unable to do anything else this last week, my mum and dad took me down there to check it out.
First of all, let me say that the drive from Glasgow to here (although only about 80 miles) is not a fun one. You have to do the motorway to the Edinburgh by-pass and then take the A7 all the way down. Yup it's one long lovely country road, not for the easily travel sick! Anyway with that out the road, we made it down in about an hour and a half.
When we arrived we had missed the morning tours and waited around until the 1.30pm tour. This wasn't too bad as we had a rather lovely lunch in their cafe and a wander around their gift shop. We got lucky with the tour timing as there were only 7 of us on tour (the one after had a full bus load). Our guide took us around the production area and the holding area. He explained to use that the mill had recently been sold to a Korean company meaning that they were now producing more than ever and shipping globally. Their production area is only in operation Monday-Thursday so was working away whilst we were there.
First of all we were taken around the production area starting with the dyeing room.
This is where the raw yarn is dyed to either their specification or their clients. They can do as little as 1kg up to 10000kg of yarn at a time. These cones of yarn are then dried in ovens before being moved to the storage areas.
When ready to be used, they are moved to the winding area where the correct amount of yarn is wound ready for the weaving to begin.
The yarn then goes through the warping process.
After this, they are fed through the weaving machines where they are completed.
At this point, they have approximately 65 metres of fabric ready to be checked in the darning area. The fabrics are manually checked for flaws by experienced workers and marked before being hand fixed.
After this, the fabrics are transported to another factory where they are washed and finished before being returned to the holding area.
Once at the holding area, they are sorted into areas for their respective clients/needs. Some fabrics are woven ready to be made immediately into scarves which are cut and packaged on site. Others are baled and stored.
The tour concluded with our guide taking into the design area, showing us past season mood boards and some examples in photographs of how some of their clients (including Chanel, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood) used their fabrics.
I would thoroughly recommend visiting this mill if you ever get a chance, especially if you're a fabric geek like me! It was certainly a great distraction from the discomfort I was feeling on the day!