Yesterday Oliver and Derek made the first move into the aptly named 'Middle store', which is tucked between our Wool Store, where the raw wool is dropped off by our suppliers, and the yarn store, where we sell yarn and post out woolly parcels. They'll now start the mammoth task of individually hand sorting all of the coloured Shetland wool. They will go through every single fleece (all 7,000 of them or thereabouts) and separate the finer grades (for example the wool that comes from the sheep's neck) used in hand-knit yarns, knitwear and blankets from the coarser wool (for example from the back legs) which we put in our 100% Shetland Wool carpets so that nothing is wasted, and our suppliers get the very most for their wool.
The contents of our middle store is really quite precious. Of the 250,000kilos of Shetland Wool that we deal with each year (which represents over 80% of Shetland's total wool clip), only about 10,000kilos of this is coloured wool. We give our suppliers a premium for their coloured wool to encourage the breeding of coloured sheep. I was talking with one of our suppliers just the other day and he was delighted that he'd managed to get a coloured ram, and is looking forward to coloured lambs this spring. So, first hand evidence that this work is paying off! Fingers crossed for a very colourful wool season in 2011...
1 The wall
2 The middle store
3 The inroad
4 The man (6' 4" Oliver)