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Behind the scenes at Westfield Croft, the Aberdeenshire business making rugs from handspun yarn

Marguerite sells her products both online and via her wool shed  on site in Aberdeenshire.
Marguerite sells her products both online and via her wool shed on site in Aberdeenshire.

We’ve all dreamed of living the good life, complete with a gorgeous location and a gaggle of animals to share in the adventure.

For Marguerite Fleming, Aberdeenshire held the answer – and Westfield Croft at Rothienorman has become her dream home.

It’s not hard to see why, from the purple egg box at the top of the drive for the many eggs laid by Marguerite’s poultry, to the gorgeous surrounding countryside.

From a rather dignified ewe named Lady Grey, to her more rambunctious companion called Podge, Westfield is home to an interesting collection of animals.

Aside from living off the land with an impressive vegetable patch, Marguerite has also taken up a more unusual hobby.

Marguerite Fleming uses the wool from her rare breed sheep to make beautiful products, including rugs.

Her gorgeous rugs can be found in homes across the north-east and perhaps further afield, not to mention the dozens of products created by the yarn which she stocks in a rustic wool shed on site.

If you hadn’t already guessed it, Marguerite uses the fleeces from her collection of rare breed sheep, while her husband, Frank Richards, weaves beautiful baskets using willow.

Specialising in Artisan woollen yarn from rare breed sheep, alongside alpaca yarns certainly isn’t your average nine till five.

And a quick look at the croft’s social media shows a life many of us can only dream of.

We caught up with Marguerite and found out about the fascinating process of using wool for everyday interiors.

From the wooly beginning

“It all started when I saw my first sheep being shorn,” said Marguerite, whose beautiful Irish lilt is still very much in-tact.

“At the time I had Hebridean and Icelandic sheep, I had never previously seen the process of their fleeces coming off.

“I thought to myself, I have to try and do something with this.

“My initial thought was to have the fleeces spun into yarn, so I found a hand spinner online.

Marguerite believes Westfield Croft is a way of life.

“When the yarn came back, it was stunning.

“I gave some to family and friends, and sold the rest.”

The couple moved to Westfield Croft in the winter of 2015, and the surrounding landscape inspired Marguerite to live a more sustainable way of life.

“It was something I had always wanted to do. We just needed to find a place which could support our ideas,” she said.

“In turn, our ideas came from the croft itself. There are so many trees here, including willow.

“It couldn’t really be described as a willow coppice at the time because it was so overgrown.

“Frank went on a couple of courses, although he is mostly self taught.

The ultimate picnic basket.

“He makes the gorgeous willow baskets which get sold at pop ups and markets.”

Marguerite’s flock includes Hebridean sheep, Icelandic and Boreray, which originate from St Kilda when sheep were brought to the mainland during the evacuation.

“They are small and hardy, they really suit the north-east,” she said.

“At the moment I select the fleeces for yarn, and then I process them which involves taking off the worst of the muck.

“If the wool is going to a hand spinner, I usually wash it. But if it is going to a mill, it is sent raw.

“Once it comes back to me, I label it. I think it really matters to people what type of sheep it has come from, where that sheep originates from.”

Sustainable interiors

Marguerite is able to sell products from her own very wool shed which is popular with visitors, but her main outlet is her online shop and various farmer’s markets.

She starts gathering fleeces in the summer once the flock has been shorn, and gets to work on her rugs during the long winter nights.

“I really want people to get the benefit of this natural fibre,” she said.

“You’re taking a fleece from a sheep which needs to be shorn, and it’s a stunning natural fibre.

Where the magic happens.

“I love people getting the benefit of it in their homes.”

Some of Marguerite’s most successful markets are at Slow Living Events.

The movement originates from Deeside, and sees wellness events and retreats take place across the north-east and further afield.

“The rugs really appeal to a much younger cohort at these type of events,” said Marguerite.

“And once I explain that my rugs are machine washable, well that sways it.

Marguerite is insanely talented.

“I think people want something which is truly their own.

“Every single rug which comes out of here is different.  The fleeces are all unique.

“They are extremely warm and very tactile.

“Of course I love them, I sit on one on my office chair and if you have a pet – well they will probably claim the rug right away.”

The beautiful rugs are machine washable.

Despite the realities of the Aberdeenshire climate, Marguerite is still every bit as in her love with her way of life on the croft.

“Every day is slightly different when you are doing something like this,” she said.

“The vision is to try and grow this little business to an extent where it can sustain us living here.”


For more information, head to westfieldcroft.co.uk, or visit their Instagram page @westfieldcroft.

They can also be found on Facebook @Westfield Croft. 

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