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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Tweed... Harris Tweed...

Do you have a favorite fabric?  Mine is tweed.  And today is National Tweed Day.

What is tweed, you ask?  “Tweed is a rough, unfinished woolen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture, resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone pattern. Subdued, interesting colour effects (heather mixtures) are obtained by twisting together differently coloured woolen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn.”  (Wiki)

And the best tweed of all is the Harris Tweed: “A cloth handwoven by the islanders on the Isles of Harris, Lewis, Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, using local wool.

Harris Tweed is a cloth that has been handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.

Harris Tweed is protected by the Harris Tweed Act of Parliament 1993, which strictly outlines the conditions in which the cloth can genuinely be made.  Authentic Harris Tweed is issued with the Harris Tweed Orb Mark, the United Kingdom's oldest registered trademark, after inspection by the Harris Tweed Authority, the industry's governing body.  "Harris Tweed means a tweed which has been hand woven by the islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the islands of Harris, Lewis, North Uist, Benbecula, South Uist and Barra and their several purtenances (The Outer Hebrides) and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides"

Today, every 50 metres of genuine Harris Tweed are checked by an inspector from the Harris Tweed Authority before being stamped, by hand, with the Orb Mark.”  (Wiki)

So what does all that mean?


It guarantees that your ‘Harris Tweed’ came from someplace that looks like this… (the croft of Mr. John McKay on Harris Island).


… from a machine set up like this…


…and powered like this…  (Yep, those are foot pedals!)

And it produces fabric that looks like this…







… deep, rich wool fabric.


And it is stamped with the Harris Tweed Orb.  (They also issue labels for use on finished goods.)


Mr. McKay’s yards of tweed he has woven.  I was like a child in a toy store; which one did I want?


THIS one!  Seriously, how could I pass up a purple tweed?! 


I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do with my yardage. 

But you don’t have to travel to Scotland to find Harris Tweed.  There is another way… at your local Goodwill store!




I can usually find a men’s jacket of Harris Tweed each time I visit.  I look thru the 50% off tags and come out with beautiful fabric for about $3 to $5.  I have a nice little stash built up that I will be soon putting to use.


Maybe I’ll cover a clock like Mr. McKay did with a piece of his own fabric.


There are all sorts of things I can do.


Fun stuff!


Love the oversized button on this purse.


Lovely.


This scarf is a cool idea for scraps.


I could use some new pillows for the couch…





Even little scraps can be made into something cute!


Right down to the last threads!


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