Breaking Down the Cost of Our Scottish Wool

Breaking Down the Cost of Our Scottish Wool

Our 100% Scottish Zwartbles yarn isn't just a skein of wool. It is a story of passion, hard work and an unwavering commitment to quality and sustainability. Read on to discover the total cost of bringing this exquisite yarn from a single flock of sheep to your needles and hooks.

The Journey of Our Wool

The story begins with Dave, a hard-working New Zealander in the village. A chance encounter in his café kickstarted our new journey, following on neatly from our first batch of Scottish wool last year. As we break down the cost from sheep to skein, it is important to note that the care of the sheep, and it is certainly care that Dave shows, is covered by him.

Getting Mill Ready

Dave personally shears all his sheep by hand. I was lucky enough to be invited along to help out last spring, and what an experience it was! After shearing and storage (this is three years' worth of shearing in one yarn), I take charge of the next stage of wool processing.

This time, pre-mill processing involved a full weekend of sorting and preparing the fleece, a labour-intensive yet rewarding task in the Easter sunshine. We booked the wool in at the mill in spring 2023 and had a one year wait until our spring 2024 slot.

Time & Money

So far, the costs in the process are largely time, which is difficult to measure financially. The first tangible cost is shipping the wool to the mill, which cost £25.07.

The Mill Process

Once at the mill, the wool undergoes several stages; washing, separating, carding, spinning, and finishing to a 2-ply DK. The meticulous process ensures that every skein meets our high standards of quality. The total cost for the mill services, including return postage, is £1,288.99.

The Border Mill

The Border Mill is a fantastic company, and they worked wonders with the Zwartbles wool. Having worked with them twice now, I'm always surprised by the relatively low costs from such expertise.


This year, we received almost 9kg of beautifully spun yarn from the mill, a 56% return rate. Early in the process, Dave and I agreed that rather than paying him directly for his fleece, I would instead share a percentage of the wool once it had returned from the mill.

Breaking Down the Costs

The total cost per skein so far breaks down as follows:

  • Mill cost per skein: £16.63
  • Packaging per skein: £1.60
  • Postage fees per skein: 20p

These costs total £18.43 per skein. Each 100g skein retails at £18, which means we operate at a loss of 43p per skein.

Time is Money

That does not account for the time and effort invested in the wool. Factoring in a low estimate of my time, each skein ultimately sells at around a £3.43 loss.

Hypothetical Figures

If we sell all of the wool, and I hope that we will, the total loss amounts to £270.97.

To just break even, we would therefore need to sell each skein for £21.43.

For a healthy 20% profit, the price would be £25.72 per 100g skein.

The Bigger Picture

Despite these numbers, I choose to price each skein of this special wool at our usual yarn price of £18. I do this for several reasons, but mostly because I want as many people as possible to experience the joy of working with this unique wool. The decision comes from a place of passion and commitment to craft.

I am incredibly fortunate that Unaroo is as much a passion project as my job, and it is not my only nor primary source of income. However, this isn't true for every wool producer. Many rely on selling their wool and other products to sustain their livelihoods and care for their animals.

Awareness and Knowledge

Raising awareness about the true cost of wool processing is crucial, although mine is just one story. Breaking down these costs is not about making anyone feel guilty. It's about understanding and appreciating the incredible effort and resources, and the skill involved in producing high-quality sustainable British wool. Yet even at £18, I am aware that this is a price outside of many budgets - good wool is an expensive material.

The Journey Continues?

Every skein of our single origin Scottish wool tells a story. It is the story of Dave's dedication, of my time happily spent elbow-deep in fleece, and the meticulous craftsmanship of The Border Mill. When you choose our yarn, you're supporting a tradition and a community.

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