Monty@Home Q&A’s – Lammermuir Wool

First things first, tell us a bit about your business and how you got started.

I started off buying a small flock of Shetland Sheep – which has grown over the years – and didn’t really know what to do with the fleeces!
Eventually I got a small amount spun up for my own use, and took some along to a de-stash event in Edinburgh. I was completely surprised by how much people wanted to buy my yarn (and I really was just shuffling about behind a table, mumbling ‘yeah.. there’s some wool here if you want it..’) and how they loved the story behind how it was produced. I was advised to get a website, and the next step was being brave enough to apply for woolly events like The Wool Monty!

What’s your favourite product of yours and why?

I produce and sell a lot of lace-weight yarn, but for me it’s always DK I go back to. Producing small batches each year means it’s hard to get consistency across different lines but I try!

What yarn crafts are you into personally?

Knitting and crochet. Have dabbled with weaving but suspect I’m not clever enough for all the maths required 🤦‍♀️

What’s your favourite project you’ve ever made?

I’m most proud of an Alice Starmore cable sweater, knitted in worsted spun DK. I even took it to show the sheep. It seemed to take years to complete. But I love knitting hats in fairisle and have made dozens?

If you came to TWM back in 2019 what did you like/dislike most about it?

I liked the atmosphere and the venue! It was laid back and never seemed too busy, even though takings were good.

What inspires your products?

I’m always inspired by Scotland. By my travels around the mainland snd islands, but most of all by the coast and moorland of East Lothian where I live. I’ll get caught up by the shade of a piece of tree or a view and start planning my next hand-dyeing project.

If you could collaborate with another TWM vendor, who would you choose and why?

So many possibilities I’m shy of naming names! However there are some stunning hand-dyers I would love to see work their magic on my Shetland yarn, and I’m definitely looking for designers who will bring my yarn to life!

Who got you into yarn?

My gran and my mum taught me to knit when I was about 6, and I progressed through a number of home-produced jumpers, cardi’s and ponchos as I grew up. As I started knitting my own things, I just bought the yarn I could afford and didn’t think too much about what it was or where it came from.
The person who showed my that provenance and traceability were important was Louise Scollay of WoolWork. She gave me tons of encouragement and is an inspiration.

What’s your favourite customer project?

I always ask customers to show me what they’ve made! One customer bought some white lace-weight yarn and made a stunningly huge and intricate shawl which she bought along to show me at another event. My wool usually smells a bit ‘sheep’s’ and she confessed she couldn’t bring herself to wash snd block the shawl as she liked to wrap herself in its lovely sheepy smell.

What’s the hardest part of what you do?

Marketing (especially online) doesn’t come naturally and can feel a bit like you’re jumping up and down shouting ‘look at me’ shudders
Balancing affordability with the need to make any kind of profit!

You’re travelling to a yarn show, what are you listening to on the way?

Elephant Sessions – every time!

What’s your favourite colour?

Anything from the blues and greens end of things.

If you weren’t running a yarn business what would you be doing?

Drowning in home-produced yarn

What’s your favourite part of yarn shows?

Talking to people – both other vendors and customers. I can talk about my sheep for Scotland and will do, if a customer shows any interest!

What yarn craft do you wish you were good at?

Weaving – see above. Love the idea of it but calculations and warping up gives me the fear.

Tell us 3 things we might not know about you

Umm – I used to run a National anti-discrimination and stigma programme about mental health

I grew up in the care system

I’m a bit revolted by bananas.

Do you tend to go for repeatable lines or one-off products? What’s your longest-running product, range or colourway?

It’s hard to ensure consistency when you only produce one small fleece clip each year and have to keep juggling available slots at spinning mills.
The white lace-weight has remained a consistent good-seller and I enjoy seeing it dyed! But the DK in various undyed greys and the hand-dyed mini-skeins are always popular.

Can you give us any hints of things you’ve got coming up soon?

I’ve just produced my first ever batch of factory dyed yarns in DK, 4ply and laceweight. Am quite nervous about what people will think! The plan is to hand-dye some shades to complement these.

And finally, just for fun, would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized zombies or 10 zombie-sized chickens?

This took some thought. Definitely 10 zombie-sized chickens. I know for a fact that chickens of any size can be easily distracted with chips and cake. My strategy would be distract-and-run.