Harris Tweed Story

Harris Tweed is a hand woven and hand dyed cloth that can be woven only in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. As one of the most famous cloths in the world, it is the only material that is protected by its own act of parliament.

The raw material of the Harris Tweed weaver is woollen yarn made entirely from 100% pure new wool in accordance with Harris Tweed Act of 1993.

Harris Tweed uses the Woollen Method of processing by carding the wool producing a yarn that is soft, light, stretchy and full of air.

At the present time almost all of the yarn is processed at the Harris Tweed Mills on the island.

Here the raw wool is converted from fibre to yarn on modern yarn processing machines which scour, dry, oil, blend, card and spin the wool into yarn of the requisite shade, twist and size in preparation for the subsequent processes of warping and weaving.

The Islands of the Outer Hebrides

In the far north west of Scotland are the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides. These islands are an area of unspoiled natural beauty with spectacular scenery, impressive mountain ranges, moorland and miles of golden beaches.

With only 26,370 inhabitants and 9 people per square kilometre, the Western Isles are one of the least populated areas in Scotland. However, these remote islands maintain a unique culture and set of traditions with most communities in the Outer Hebrides, using the Scottish Gaelic language together with English.

From the tip of Isle of Lewis all the way down to the small islands of Barra and Vatersay is around 240 Kilometres, each rich with wildlife and the rugged landscapes offering great opportunities for the more adventurous visitor.

Harris Tweed History

For centuries the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra have woven the magical cloth the world knows as Harris Tweed. (Clo Mor in the original Gaelic – ‘The big cloth’).

The woollen cloth known as Harris Tweed has been woven and dyed by hand in the Western Isles of Scotland. Originally this handmade fabric was woven by crofters for familial use, ideal for protection against the colder climate in the North of Scotland, currently the material is woven for a wide range of uses including fashion and interiors.

By the end of the 18th Century, the spinning of wool yarn from local raw materials was a staple industry for the crofters of the Outer Hebrides. The finished handmade cloth was then exported to the Scottish mainland and traded along with other commodities produced by the Islanders, such as dry hides, goat and deer skins.

This was the beginning of the Harris Tweed industry…

The Harris Tweed Authority protects and promotes the Harris Tweed © brand across the world – you can visit their site for more about the Harris Tweed story.

Harris Tweed Infographic

All information © Harris Tweed Authority 2021 and may not be reproduced without permission.