It was through a combination of a mother’s love to help her son and the drive for better sustainability that farmer, Julie Hermitage of Wester Coul Farm, at Lintrathen, in Glen Ilsa, Angus, started looking into the beneficial properties of wool as a bedding product during the long winters of 2010-2012. The snow had a disastrous effect on lambing and she was also coping with her four-year-old son suffering from asthma. It wasn’t a good year. A suggestion that she try him under wool bedding and the subsequent quick benefits it brought to her son then led to six months of pouring over information, doing research on the  internet and working with three different universities to find out how she could utilise the wool off the backs of her 600 commercial hill flock, as an additional income to the farm.

Five years later and she feels she has just scratched the surface of the benefits of wool. All the scientific research points to this wonderful, natural product having all the properties that modern textiles require in a greener and more sustainable environment. Wool doesn’t cure asthma, but what it has given Julie’s son, is a regulated sleeping body temperature through the night, which stops him sweating, and stops him coughing. He has a restful night’s sleep, and therefore he can cope with his days so much easier.

And now, Julie has a small artisan business with its trademark Uan Wool™, which creates products made from her own wool and specially selected Scottish sheep breeds. Utilising the wool's natural properties to create temperature regulating, breathable, naturally flame retardant and supportive cushions and bedding.

“Wool really is the best material for bedding and interiors, there is so much research going on across the world, particularly in Australia to back this up. However, over the years, probably since the 1950s, we have lost the textile processing skills that Britain had in abundance and that skillset is starting to re-emerge. The textile industry has undergone some difficult times too. I send our wool to Yorkshire to be cleaned, as most of the processing steps are not present in Scotland,” says Julie.

Julie has found that in educating herself about wool, along the way she has been educating others. This summer, Julie is focusing on her ‘Celebration of Wool’ cushions using her own wool and specially selected rare breed’s wool. Sourcing Scottish grown non-commercial and rare wools for the embellishments from the Northern Group of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and her own wool for the fills. Julie continues: “We started making the cushions as a way of explaining to people about of the different wools having their own textures and characteristics. Our cushions use wool in its many different formats of woven, non woven, and use fibre art techniques for the embellishments. Smaller micron wool is considerably denser to the touch for cushions and pillows and we can create soft, medium and firm wool filling for bespoke support and comfort so it is best that customers call me and we can have a chat about what their needs are.

“ Working with the rare breed wools of also a real nice way of helping save the sheep gene pool for rare breeds and creating a beautifully unique hand crafted cushions.”

 Julie wrangles with the idea that farmers are now so detached from the wool that they produce, as it is almost seen as a volume waste product, as the financial incentive to do anything seems lost. Which is such a shame considering what wonderful textile properties it has, and it is a totally natural, biodegradable product and by adding a little more value can help to retain sheep wandering all over the hills and fields of Scotland which can have a huge economical impact in fragile hill areas.

Julie adds: These cushions are not cheap disposable products, wool is one of nature’s super materials. With bedding products, it’s an investment in a a good night’s sleep. I also believe that by developing our products and collaborating with others we are helping to resurrect a textile industry, investing in rural skills that could be lost forever if we don’t use them.”

Julie asks that customers contact her on Tel:01575 560789, email: or find her on uanwool. Cushions cost from £20 - £65 and bespoke commission for using any particular wool are welcome.