Still a family owned business since its inception in 1798, the company was originally set up to spin yarn from locally grown wool. The locality was Aberdeenshire. The spun yarn was for nearby weavers, then still operating a literally ‘cottage’ industry.
Of course, that particular outlet soon disappeared -or rather was overtaken- by the same revolution that gave birth to J. C. Rennie. In stark contrast, Rennie not only continued to produce but expanded and today, still spin tons of yarn at the same mill on a weekly basis, for many of the world’s most well know fashion brands.
The water wheel which prevented a later Rennie from adding his weight to Britain’s Crimea War effort -it is recorded that he broke his leg while attempting to turn it -is still there today. The very fact that it is still capable of producing power-although now completely inadequate for today’s full electrical requirements -demonstrates the company’s attitude to new technological developments; keep the best of the old but at the same time use new technology to support the traditional methods, so as to retain the quality, and to reduce the energy required in the manufacturing process, so very important in today’s environmentally-conscious world.
Rennie still appreciate and respect the traditional skills now associated with pre-twentyfirst century yarn production; how raw wool looks to the educated eye; how it feels to the experienced hand; even how it smells are all aspects of yarn manufacture still highly valued by the company.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why all the yarns supplied by Rennie have a unique Scottishness about them; as if the very essence of Scotland was somehow bound up in the fibres. The colours; soft reds, hazy blues, rich dark browns. The strength; born of hard times, sometimes threatening survival itself. The lightness, the handle, as soft and weightless as the local har, which as often as not, shroud the North East of Scotland. The warmth -Scottishness at its very best.