Corncrake – 50g 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 50g at standard conditions. All yarn is weighed to order on balances that are checked daily to ensure that you receive the correct total amount.

Corncrake is part of the Birds range, which is inspired by birds of the Outer Hebrides.


Not so very long ago, as late as the 1960s, the summer nights on the Isle of Lewis were often hard to sleep through. It is possible to adjust to the almost twenty-four hours of daylight, but the loud rasping calls of hundreds of Corncrakes kept awake all but the heaviest sleepers. These birds once made their summer homes across all of Britain, taking part of their name from their favourite nesting place of the corn fields. The “crake” refers to their rather strangulated cry which was familiar to anyone who lived in the countryside. Sadly this is no longer the case, for modern farming methods do not provide the Corncrake with a nesting place, and over the years the birds have become an endangered species. The Corncrake population is now confined to the Outer Hebrides, and even here the decline of traditional crofting methods has seen the planting of corn and oats drastically reduced, thus depriving the bird of its preferred habitat. Ironically, bad agricultural practice has made up for it in a small way. Overgrazing by sheep can give rise to the spectacular growth of a weed known as the soft rush – disastrous for pasture, but a reasonable habitat for the occasional Corncrake. Although they can crake the entire night away, they are seen rarely. I have heard many over the years but have only ever seen about a dozen. They skulk away through the rushes, and you have to almost tread on one before it takes to the air and flaps off with its legs trailing.

The birds also face other man-made dangers – they are weak and clumsy at flying and have an unfortunate tendency to fly at the same altitude as overhead power lines. This often results in fatalities, especially at night. Their main talent lies in their ability to vanish even in the lightest of cover. Their amazing plumage combines creams, golds, russets, greens, and browns which blend perfectly with rough grassland. The chicks start their lives jet black, their colour changing as they grow towards adulthood. Our Corncrake colour is a mix of light golden browns and bronze, flecked with greens and reds, and with occasional hints of darker tones. This creates an effect as unusual as the birds themselves. Unlike the birds however, this is not a colour for those who want camouflage. In a human environment it is an instant attention grabber.