Review of Knockando Wool Mill
I still remember studying the industrical revolution and social history in school as part of ‘O’ and ‘A’ level history, and being bored to tears with the whole subject. I don’t know if it was the subject material or the teaching methods. Would I have been more interested if I had been taken on a mill tour then – who knows? But now, I find the whole process of making fabric fascinating and our 6 year old loves a visit to Knockando Woolmilll: he also loves turning his hand to a bit of spinning, weaving and knitting.
Knockando wool mill is Britain’s oldest district wool mill. It has never been a huge industrial site, such as you would have seen in Yorkshire or in the Scottish Borders (the world heritage site of New Lanark being a classic example). Instead Knockando was a result of farm diversification. The farmers had sheep, which needed shearing. Shearing produced fleeces. The fleece needed processing: hence the need of a local mill, which would spin the fleece into yarn and weave the yarn into blankets and tweed cloth.
Mills such as Knockando used to be commonplace in farming communities, but many of them faded away between the two world wars as the community changed. Somehow Knockando survived and the expertise needed to use the victorian machinery survived and was passed down to the current owner and into the Trust which now runs the mill. Further details are available from the Knockando Mill website.
The mill has now been completely restored and the machinery can all be used to produce cloth from raw fleece, as was the original intention. It is a fascinating site to visit and well-worth taking a tour or joining one of their workshops.
We’ve actually toured the mill site numerous times and have enjoyed the family/group activities they have on offer and we could still go again. It’s a small site, but fascinating. We’ve included it on the Cairngorm Discovery tour as well. Some of their yarn, though expensive, makes me want to use it. It has been dyed by Ripples Yarns and is the most glorious range of colours inspired by the Cairngorm scenery.
Knockando have also teamed up with Shilasdair Shop and Dye House on Skye.
- Tour of the mill site
- Visit the cafe
- Peruse the shop and interactive display
- Follow the trail around the site
- Visit the working mill to see the machinery in action
- Join a spinning, weaving, rug making, felting workshop.
The mill reopens for the 2015 season on 23rd March just in time for the Easter holidays.
A Cairngorm Discovery tour is aimed at families so suitable for most ages and levels of fitness, but you don’t have to have children to enjoy this itinerary. The trip is designed as an introduction to the diversity of this area and includes a visit to Knockando Wool Mill complete with activities which are booked in advance and included in the price of the tour. Above is a picture of Victoria, having a go at spinning some yarn. Victoria was 11 at the time. She also did a wee bit of weaving.
If you have a family or group of 4 or more we can arrange this trip for you to dates of your choice, if available. However, we have also set aside some fixed dates in our calendar which can be booked by couples, individuals or families. The first of these dates runs in the Easter holidays.