Monday, September 19, 2011

harris tweed


I spent part of my weekend watching a fascinating documentary about Harris tweed produced by BBC 4 television.  (The documentary is in three hour-long parts that can be viewed on Vimeo.  The first part can be seen here; part two is viewable here and here; and part three is here.)

Harris tweed is "cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides" (source: The Harris Tweed Authority).  Yes--this cloth is still woven by hand on the islands of Scotland's Outer Hebrides.  A single inspector drives around checking that the tweed is being made to standard and places the official seal on the fabric.







Harris tweed comes in over 8000 patterns, with colors that mirror the landscape of Scotland.  The tweed is sturdy and warm and holds its shape.  It's a classic that, sadly, has fallen on hard times.  Though the fashion industry has changed greatly with the rise of cheaply-made, mass produced clothing, the way Harris tweed is made has changed very little.  And--arguably--it shouldn't.  

The BBC 4 documentary I linked to above is about the people who now make the tweed, and those who are making attempts to rescue the industry.  Moments of this documentary made me angry and frustrated, but in the end, tweed aficionados like Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant and fashion designer Deryck Walker gave me hope. 

xo
K

6 comments:

  1. I had no idea. A tweed inspector? Very cool.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very good share! I really didn't know much about tweed until you posted. I have yet to own a tweed skirt, though I'm always on the hunt.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bookmarking! I'm watching that documentary tomorrow. I love the BBC--I wish they would just transmit their channels here (not that BBC America disappointment of a channel) on a six-hour delay or something. Please please please, TV gods?!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am researching a Harris Tweed material that I have. It is stamped, along the salvage edge, just like your first photo above. It has the Orb and the words Harris Tweed and below that Woven in Lewis. It does not have the words, Certification Trade Mark below that. Is that an indication of how old it may be? Was Certification Trade Mark added at some point in time?

    Many thanks,

    Ed Young

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am researching a Harris Tweed material that I have. It is stamped, along the salvage edge, just like your first photo above. It has the Orb and the words Harris Tweed and below that Woven in Lewis. It does not have the words, Certification Trade Mark below that. Is that an indication of how old it may be? Was Certification Trade Mark added at some point in time?

    Many thanks,

    Ed Young

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not a Harris Tweed expert, unfortunately, and do not know the answer to your question.

      Delete

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