Poppy – 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.

Poppy is part of the Summer Isle range, which is inspired by summer in the Outer Hebrides.



Alice Starmore Hebridean 2 Ply pure new British wool hand knitting Yarn in Poppy colour
Alice Starmore Hebridean 2 Ply pure new British wool hand knitting Yarn in Poppy colour

Poppy Colour Story

In the 18th Century, a young Highlander by the name of Murdoch Macleod qualified as a surgeon and apothecary, and emigrated to the American colonies. There he set up in business as an apothecary in a shop in Cross Creek, North Carolina. When the War of Independence broke out he joined the British army as a surgeon and was taken prisoner. On release he took ship back to Scotland and settled down as a local doctor in North Uist in the Outer Hebrides. Of Murdoch's five sons, four also went into medicine. One of them, Alexander born 1788, was to become a Hebridean legend as a physician and master of herbal lore. He became known as Dotair Bàn, which translates as the Fair (as in blonde) Doctor.

The Dotair Bàn used a combination of local plants and sympathetic psychology to treat the patients in his practice. One of his grandsons, yet another Dr M Macleod wrote a memoir of his grandfather in the Caledonian Medical Journal. He commented:

Many of the indigenous herbs have medicinal value – e.g. the gentians, the potentillas, the trefoils, the poppies – and infusions, tinctures and decoctions of them are, as far as they go, as useful as those manufactured from their tropical congeners which are richer in alkaloids.

Sadly, the Dotair Bàn died in 1854 from a fall down a sixty-foot drop while returning from an urgent night-time call to treat the wife of a shepherd. He lost his way in the dark in trackless terrain. It took two days to find his body, and there was great local relief when it was obvious that he must have died instantly. I briefly tell his tale partly because his memory deserves it, and partly because the poppy was amongst his materia medica. One of its uses would have been as a sleeping draught, for the Gaelic for poppy is lus a' chadail – herb of slumber.

Various poppies – chiefly common; long smooth-headed and opium – grow in Hebridean grasslands and cultivated fields in summer. I particularly like their flashes of pure red amongst the green of potato shaws. They seem to me like pieces of scarlet muslin, and they form the basis of this worthy addition to our Hebridean palette.