Calluna – Hebridean 2 Ply
Alice Starmore® Hebridean 2 Ply Yarn is made from premium quality pure new British wool, dyed in the fleece and skillfully blended into unique shades. It is hand-washed and dried in the Hebridean air, and supplied in hand-made skeins which may vary in weight. It is priced per 25g at standard conditions. All yarn is weighed to order on balances that are checked daily to ensure that you receive the correct total amount.
Calluna is part of the Moor & Mountain range, which is inspired by the landscape of the Outer Hebrides.
Calluna Vulgaris is the botanic name for the Common Heather that grows throughout the Hebrides and fires the moor with the purple of its flowers between August and September. Speaking of firing the moor, it is unfortunately legal for what is known as “muirburn” to take place in springtime, whereby the Calluna is burnt back to encourage the growth of grass. Muirburn is illegal after mid-April to protect ground-nesting birds, but that doesn’t prevent certain irresponsible sheep barons from going out in May to fire vast swathes of tinder-dry moorland. I have seen the fires glowing out of control, far into the night.
On a happier note, Calluna is a dye plant so honoured in Highland history that it is the badge of the Clan Macdonald, and their Gaelic war-cry was Fraoch Eilean – the heather isle. The dye colour is obtained from infusing the flowers and will range from yellow, through orange to brown, according to the mordants used and the state of the plant when the flowers were harvested. Dried flowers will give a different shade to fresh ones, and all the shades were used for tweed-making in days before chemical dyes.
The thatched roofs of Hebridean blackhouses were held in place by ropes made by twisting Calluna plants together, and heather beds were also frequently used, albeit long ago. Even within my own memory, I can recall Calluna being used to clean chimneys from the top down, by attaching a thick clump to a rope, weighted at the bottom by a stone.
In remote, shady glens that are sheltered from the wind, Calluna grows with such depth and vigour that it can resemble a dark green lake. I remember walking through it chest high as a child. We have sought to capture this effect by blending very dark and mid-tones of green with just a whisper of lake blue.