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Highland tartan weaving entrepreneur still determined despite coronavirus crisis

By Hector MacKenzie

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Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle.
Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle.

The woman behind a trailblazing initiative to bring tartan weaving back to the Highlands says the coronavirus crisis has merely served to strengthen her resolve.

The public health crisis may have set back her plans for an eagerly anticipated new mill on the Black Isle but Clare Campbell, of Prickly Thistle, remains determined to breathe new life into a century-old agricultural steading to create the Black House Mill after a crowdfunding appeal.

With construction work still required and the pandemic bringing such work to a halt for several weeks, the decision to push back the opening and continue in temporary premises on Evanton Industrial Estate has not disheartened her.

Her resolve to convert a disused Resolis farm steading into a weaving hub capable of meeting global demand for tartan remains as strong as ever.

She said: “It’s a marathon and not a sprint. Coronavirus has just taken our passion and commitment to a whole other level.

“I hope during the crisis that people think more about the power of the pound or dollar they have. We as consumers affect everything.

“Tartan is not just clans, tourists and the Royal Mile. It’s about identity and values. We are not just this wee tartan mill in the Highlands. I think a lot of people get it.”

Ms Campbell has been far from idle during the lockdown, keeping the heritage looms she has lovingly restored in working order, progressing research and development and quietly making and donating hundreds of face masks fashioned from kilt-lining material.

The Covid-19 crisis has also seen her step up collaboration with students carrying out masters degree research as she looks at particle filtration in fabrics.

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