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The Last Woollen Mill

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The Last Woollen Mill by Richenda Miers
Scottish Life, Autumn 2018

"Never again shall I be able to see a length of tweed, or tartan, or any sort of woollen cloth without remembering my tour of Knockando Mill, near Aberlour in Strathspey. The mill is of international importance, being one of the only surviving woollen mills of its kind in the world with some of its original machinery still in operation; seeing it in action is to witness history and traditional craftsmanship brought to life.

I had a cloudless sunny day for my visit and chose the back route from Grantown-on-Spey, following the river on a twisting rural road with magnificent views. On the way I managed to avoid running over a red squirrel who was enjoying the sun ahead of my wheels, so I was already in a good mood when I arrived at the remote cluster of buildings that lies tucked away above the River Spey in the midst of ancient farmland.

In the old crofting days, after the sheep had been sheared and the fleeces scoured (washed), the carding, spinning and weaving were usually done at home. But the bothies were not big enough to cope with the waulking (soaking, beating and shrinking the cloth to make it thick and felted) or the drying, and so most crofting communities had a waulk mill."

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