Since we introduced a new line of Harris Tweeds last October, our friends across the country have been asking,”What is tweed, anyway?” “Does that mean that it has specks in the cloth?”
Originally tweed emerged in Scotland and Ireland as a rough thick hand woven fabric used to ward off the chilly damp climate. Some think it was named after the River Tweed others thought it came from the Scottish word “tweel” which we call twill meaning the weave of the fabric. At any rate it it was commonly worn in England and Scotland for outdoor activities It was moisture resistant, durable and warm.
Tweed is an unfinished woolen fabric of a soft, open, flexible texture resembling homespun but more closely woven. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone pattern. Subdued color effects are obtained by twisting differently colored strands into a two or three ply yarn. Harris Tweeds come from the Hebrides Islands on the northwest coast of Scotland. One of the islands is called Harris thus the term “HARRIS TWEED” . Originally the sheep were shorn, wool processed all by hand, and yarns woven into fabric as a cottage industry right on the islands.
So— that makes me want to jump on a plane and head for the Hebrides Islands in Northern Scotland where these sheep are raised! I’d love to watch the unique time honored process of turning wool into gorgeous fabric.