In the islands of the Outer Hebrides a slender swath of green called Raasay was home to a remarkable man named Calum MacLeod. Calum lived in Arnish, a small isolated township on the northern tip of the island. In the 1920's Arnish boasted a population of over 90 inhabitants, whose repeated requests of the local government council for a road to link them with the rest of the island were denied. By the 1960's, when Calum and his wife lived there, the community had been reduced to seven families. MacLeod felt passionately that, however remote, he and the now remaining inhabitants of Arnish deserved a road. The unwillingness or inability to finance its construction left only one option - for Calum to build the road himself. He bought a second hand book on road building and maintenance and studied it. He then watched how the sheep made their way across the moor (they instinctively find the easiest, if not the most direct route) and then he laid his plan for his nearly 2 mile long effort. Calum, single-handedly, began to build his road in 1966. When he finished a decade later he had used up two wheelbarrows, six picks, six shovels, four spades and five hammers and he and his wife were the only remaining inhabitants of Arnish. All these years later, Calum's Road is still clearly identified on area maps which include Raasay.
Thistle & Broom's exclusive Calum's Road hand-knit Scottish wool pullovers and cardigans serve as our tribute to a man of great moral and physical strength, tenacity and courage. We asked hand dyer extraordinaire and yarn fiend Eva Lambert of Waternish on the Isle of Skye to develop the original pattern which is now expertly knit by Eileen Sutherland. In both styles Calum's Road features a complex central cable which represents the road, with all its difficulties of construction. On either side of the 'road' are fine cables (front and back) representing the pick ax's and shovels, whilst running down the arms are Celtic plaits (braids) to represent Calum's heritage and the persistent and abiding spirit of the Celtic people. The Scottish wools offered are bleached by the sun and the colours further change by the diet of the sheep with each passing season, available in four 'colours' three which come off the sheep naturally Arthur's Seat, wet rock, gingered hued brown, Cairngorm, a marled taupe reminiscent of smoky quartz, Dunchraigaig, the darkest natural of Baa-baa black sheep fame and a medium natural grey hand dyed with natural indigo by Eva which, this season, takes on the deep green/blue of the waters which lay between the Isles of Skye and Raasay which we call Brochel for the castle ruins which marked the 'end of the road' and still guard the ancient seacoast. The Calum's Road cardigan for ladies is slightly cropped and fitted for a more feminine profile. Both men's and ladies cardigans are available with your choice of handmade naturally-shed deer antler or sheep's horn buttons from John Lacey, a horncarver who lives up Tayside. Each garment is made to order, the cables and pattern painstakingly adjusted to your specific size, please allow at least eight weeks for delivery.
Another man of steely Celtic determination changed the way we look at nature. Your purchase benefits re-forestation efforts of the John Muir Trust with their conservancy on the Isle of Skye adjoining the Cuillin Mountains.