Creating bespoke estate tweeds is something of a speciality for Araminta Campbell, however every now and then she comes across a project that gives her a brand new challenge. We are currently working on a custom tweed for Ballogie Estate, a 6,000 acre Scottish estate in the heart of Royal Deeside. Owned and managed by the Nicol family since 1850, the estate features beautiful areas of ancient woodland, wild moors and rivers, and is a sought-after destination for holidays, field sports and fishing. In addition, Ballogie House which was once the family home, is now an exclusive use wedding venue.
Ballogie House in the North of Scotland is a beautiful venue and holiday destination.
Araminta was approached by Malcolm and Randall Nicol, the owners of Ballogie Estate at the GWCT Scottish Game Fair at Scone palace last July. They were hoping to have their estate tweed reproduced here in Scotland and had heard of the fabulous work Araminta is renowned for. They introduced her to their lovely original tweed, which was commissioned by Lt-Colonel R J Nicol in the 1930s and has been worn by the Nicol Family ever since.
Unfortunately it has often proven difficult to have it reproduced in modern times, and the Nicol family were searching for a way to bring the tweed back to how it had originally looked in Lt-Colonel Nicol’s day.
Araminta is using an old sporting jacket as her reference for recreating the Ballogie tweed.
Araminta likes a good puzzle, and so relished the opportunity to turn back the clock on this historic estate tweed. She began by studying an example of the original design – in the form of an old tweed sporting jacket that had once belonged to a member of the family. After a bit of detective work, she ended up having to unpick the jacket lining and tease out unfaded threads from the woven cloth to get a better idea of the colours she was working with.
Araminta had to tease out strands of yarn from the jacket fabric to help source the right colours.
Selecting the right yarn colours is vital for a bespoke tweed, and is the part of the process which often takes the longest! Araminta hunted high and low through the colour palettes of our British yarn suppliers, but couldn’t find anything that was close enough to match the original cloth.
Part of the issue was the type of yarn it was woven in; a sturdy Cheviot wool that was designed to be worn outdoors in the windswept Scottish Highlands. Less tweed is woven in this type of wool these days, so with less demand, yarn suppliers aren’t able to offer as many shades to choose from. Secondly, the tone of modern colours is rather different from those produced in the 1930s. These days colours tend to be rather punchier and more acidic, whereas in the past they were softer and less vivid.
Finding the right colour and quality of yarn is often the most challenging part of a bespoke project.
So the last option left was to go bespoke on the yarn! One of the base colours was a twisted lovat yarn in a lovely soft green, and the other an earthy fawn brown. We have had these two custom spun for the project by twisting two closely matched shades together. However both the overcheck colours were so specific that we are having them custom dyed to match the old 1930s yarns.
To create these custom tweed yarn colours, Araminta headed down to a specialist dyers in the Scottish Borders. Walking into a non-descript old mill building, she was met with an intriguing array of steaming dye vats, apothecary style cabinets stuffed full of recipes and expert colourists.
Araminta visited the specialist yarn dyers in the Scottish Borders to get yarn custom dyed.
Using only a couple of centimetres of the old yarn, the team were able to examine the two colours and create the dye recipes to reproduce them. Now with the yarns underway we are nearly ready to begin with the second stage of production for the Ballogie Estate tweed – weaving! We will be doing a follow up post once the cloth is complete.
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