Prickly Thistle Scotland unveils plans for a pioneering face mask to help the community fight against the pandemic

Prickly Thistle Scotland, the only tartan weaving mill in the mainland Highland region of Scotland, launches the Mask of Integrity, the first face mask subscription service for 100% natural fibre fabric, tailored to fit, reusable masks, that are filtration tested to help the community fight against the pandemic.

Clare Campbell of Prickly Thistle teamed up with the Edinburgh based Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) to test the particle filtration and fit of the wool face mask design so that the final refined product completely covers the nose, mouth and lower chin and can be confidently presented to the community for optimal protection.

The Mask of Integrity will be available for pre-order by mid-October for delivery to the community in November. It offers customers the guarantee of:

  • the first UK filtration tested woven wool face mask that is available to the community
  • tailored face fit profile
  • mask cloth made of 100% natural fibres
  • washable at a high temperature, 60+ degrees
  • reusable, renewable and recyclable subscription service

The user customised subscription service will equip each customer with two reusable masks and the regular replacement schedule of these will be dependent on their usage habits. Prickly Thistle is working with Zero Waste Scotland to ensure that all the masks are returned as part of this subscription service to tackle the waste problem directly associated with single use plastic masks. Mask fabrics recovered can then be recycled and repurposed.

The Mask of Integrity launches at a time when the government calls for widespread use of face coverings in public to reduce COVID-19 community infections. There is heightened fear that coronavirus cases will surge when the seasons change since respiratory illness tend to thrive during cooler weather conditions. Despite these concerns and the World Health Organisation’s guidance on the layering and filtration standards for non-medical masks, there is still no standard pattern or quality test being used by makers to ensure that the face coverings are serving their purpose.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clare and her team at Prickly Thistle have been progressing research and developing the Mask of Integrity as a solution for the unregulated mask market.

Clare said;On day one of lockdown in Scotland, I got to work on contacting everyone I knew in the textiles industry, celebrities and politicians who were in a position to influence the immediate action of ensuring every single person in Scotland could have a mask. Despite our best efforts, this hasn’t been fully acknowledged by the Government yet”.

“This has not stopped us; we have continued to strive for a multi-faceted solution. The pandemic has taken our passion and commitment to a whole other level to help others. I truly believe businesses have a responsibility to be positive activists in what we do.”

“Over the last six months, Prickly Thistle has been bombarded with requests for a natural fibre mask, and I could not morally produce these without the confidence in their effectiveness. We did donate 1000 masks during that time, made from kilt lining cotton cloth, with nose pinch wires, an added filter insert pocket and adjustable straps. These were sent to the far north of Scotland, a little island off Orkney to NHS staff commuting in London”.

“Now that we have a fully tested sustainable face mask, we can start to mobilise the supply chain and wider national textile industry to meet the pre-order demand. From the yarn suppliers and weavers to the finishers and seamstresses, this is a collaborative endeavour. We have evidenced that the production of the Mask of Integrity has the power to stimulate the green economic recovery of our industry”.

The durability of the 100% natural fibre cloth for the Mask of Integrity is based on key learnings from the woven sail craftsmanship of the Viking age. Clare was inspired after reading The Golden Thread written by Kassia St Clair and connected with Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands institute for Northern Studies to further explore this.

Professor Donna Heddle, Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands institute for Northern Studies said: “the Vikings were the finest sailors since the Phoenicians and their ships were models of efficient and resilient construction. We can only marvel at the quality and durability of their sails, created by the women usually over the winter. Research based on the reconstruction of the five scuttled Viking ships found in Roskilde Fjord in Denmark by the Viking Ship Museum of Roskilde show that the Viking woollen cloth sails have far greater longevity than the later linen ones, such as those found on the late medieval ship Vasa, and adapt and cope with weather conditions much more effectively.”

To pre-order the Mask of Integrity. More info here:

For businesses and organisations interested in joining the supply chain for the mask of integrity, Prickly Thistle are looking to build their network of yarn producers, weavers, finishers and seamstresses. More info here:

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