Crofting Connections joined with Rosie Hazelton from Wild Rose Escapes and Maggie Wormald from Royal Highland Education Trust to deliver a great day in January for 55 children from the Balnain, Cannich and Glenurquhart Primary Schools to learn more about sheep and wool.
The children from upper primary classes were mixed together in groups named after the breeds of sheep which produced the fleeces they worked with – Scottish Blackface, Cheviot, Hebridean, Jacob and Shetland. Each group got a chance to learn about a typical shepherd’s year in the Highlands and traditional and modern breeds of sheep from Euan and Natalie Fraser who are crofters near Beauly. The children also learnt how a fleece is treated after it comes off the sheep, what plants can be used to produce beautiful natural coloured fleeces and how to felt, spin and weave with local craftspeople from the Highland Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers.
At lunchtime they also got a chance to sample some delicious Crofter’s Pies from the Well Hung Lamb Co and some fresh beremeal bannocks with local honey and hedgerow jelly. These proved a big hit not only with the children but the staff of the Craigmonie who were very helpful before and during the event.
At the end of the day all children said they wanted to learn more about working with wool and significantly more said they would be interested in learning more about crofting. We plan to work closely with the teachers to bring more opportunities for this learning into these schools.
Children answered questions to win the chance to tag a pretend sheep’s ear, then they had a chance to feel different fleeces to rate their softness and to guess what plants had made the different coloured fleeces. More work will be done in the spring if the schools have time to forage for plants to dye some fleece in class.
Each person got a bag of both neutral and coloured wool to learn how to felt and create their own picture which they were able to take home and finish off. Some children got on really well with spinning some fleece. Crofting Connections has provided looms and spinning wheels to each local authority so schools can have a chance to have a go in school.