Roaming in Southern Scotland

A walk with a botanist suggests that unicorns might be coming more common in the well-wooded Yarrow Valley.

© Kate Foster

I suppose unicorns are quite common?

‘Well, yes’  agreed the botanist. ‘Especially’, she added, ‘if the quality of the woods is improving’.


Scottish Rights of Way must include Access for Unicorns: the signs instruct us to head up the path to Ashiestiel.

© Kate Foster
© Kate Foster

Up, towards the Southern Upland Way. Woodlands around us are in reasonable condition – see the bryophytes? At the edge of the birch wood, a third sign:

© Kate Foster

The plant that is called Yarrow is still in flower in early autumn, and common in upland meadows. The Yarrow Pug is a southern insect, but the Northern Eggar should frequent a good upland meadow. Hares? Yes, should be plenty. Lapwing? well only a very small number nesting on the hill last year – they need undisturbed wetlands.

We enjoyed our rights of way, with the prospect of a unicorn – released from its chains – leaping a closed gate.

For any enquires about Unicorn sightings in the Yarrow Valley go to Fully Wooly  

Any scientific inaccuracy is my responsibility.








‘Why wool?’ – an event in Devon

Circular from Centre of Contemporary Art and the Natural World:

Why Wool?
Forum: Wool Culture
Friday 24 September 2010, 10am-4pm
Town Hall, Bovey Tracey
Admission: £19 (£15 conc.). Includes lunch + refreshments. Booking essential

CCANW’s ‘Wool Culture’ forum aims to bring together people – e.g. farmers, policy makers, weavers, knitters, makers and designers – who are passionate about finding new economically and environmentally viable directions for wool, an undervalued yet local and sustainable resource. The day will include exciting presentations, stimulating debate, sharing of information and networking. Presentations will be given by Clemence Cocquet of Ardalanish Isle of Mull Weavers, whose products include organic meat and award-winning woollen textiles and fashion, and Val Grainger, the Woolly Shepherd and Overall Winner of the Devon Environmental Business Initiative Awards 2009.

Devon and UK-wide sheep farmers have seen a steep decline on returns for the shearing of their sheep. An average White Face Dartmoor ewe’s wool is worth around £1.50. Shearing costs about £1 per ewe. Yet wool is one of the few fibres the can still be grown, scoured, spun and woven within the shores of the UK.

The ‘Wool Culture’ Forum underlines one of the exhibition’s themes entitled ‘Designing Locally’ which questions some of the logic of economics-driven globalized production and distribution which dominates the fashion industry today and creates a culture of ‘fast fashion’ consumption in the West. In this economic model, robust social and environmental standards are difficult to enforce within an international supply chain. By contrast, designing and producing locally can create products that celebrate traditions and express cultural heritage. It also has the potential to build communities by creating meaningful employment while respecting local environmental conditions.

The ‘Wool Culture’ forum is part of an ambitious programme of activities during the exhibition ‘Fashion Footprints: Sustainable Approaches’, CCANW’s ground-breaking project on sustainability in fashion and textiles. At a time when the terms ‘green’ and ‘fair trade’ have long-since entered the public consciousness, UK consumers largely seem unaware of the fashion industry’s enormous detrimental impact on the environment and workforces abroad. CCANW’s exhibition, events and other activities are designed to inform people on the more sustainable choices they can make in the clothes they wear.

This event is organised in association with the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

Venue: Town Hall, Bovey Tracey
More info and booking:    01392 832277

stages in becoming a jumper (2)




clean examination



final check 1

final check 2


fold and bag

Many thanks to Barrie, Hawick – see

starting with the yarn store … becoming a jumper

Many thanks to Barrie, Hawick – see

Stages in becoming a jumper: design – technician – yarn store – machines – greasy binding – greasy examination – greasy mending – washing – Paris pressing – cutting – clean binding – handsewing – button + buttonhole – clean examination – mending – pressing – final check – ticketing – fold and bag – stockroom

yarn store

old knitting machine

new machine

greasy binding

greasy examination



Paris pressing

clean binding

hand stitching

(To be continued)


a melée of limbs, wool, onlooking ewes

piled fleeces waiting to be rolled, dirty bits put under the table

shorn and unshorn have a look round the pen during a break (phone rang)

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