I am blessed with many good friends. Some I’ve known since my earliest days and others I’ve met along life’s journey. Two of my fiber enthusiast friends (the other two Meyvns) recently took a trip to Scotland, and more specifically, to the Outer Hebrides where the famous Harris Tweed is made.
Thanks to their trip to see how and where this tweed is made, I now understand what makes Harris Tweed so special. I have always loved its particular look and feel, but had no idea of the extreme care with which it is woven.
The wool used to make Harris Tweed comes from flocks reared on the mainland of Scotland. The raw undyed wool is then taken to the mills on the Outer Hebrides - the island with the two names of Lewis and Harris. There it is “dyed in the wool”, which is unique to Harris Tweed.
After drying, the colored wools are blended together using a secret recipe and then carded and spun into yarn. The spun yarn is then warped and wound onto large beams. This warp, along with bobbins of yarn for the weft, is delivered to the homes of the weavers. A pattern instruction card is included.
All Harris Tweed must be, by law, hand woven on a treadle loom by the weaver at his own home. It is then returned to the mill for the finishing process. The Harris Tweed Authority is given the responsibility for promoting and maintaining the authenticity, standard and reputation of the world famous Harris Tweed cloth.
I gave the Meyvns the task of buying me some of this famous tweed. The photo below shows the beautiful array of colors and patterns they chose. I honestly don’t know if I have the heart to cut any of this into strips for rug hooking. I definitely need to look at it and feel its rough beauty for now.
There’s a lot of beauty out there and in the skilled and proud craftsmanship of the people of the Outer Hebrides.