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 Harris Tweed Authority.
The raw material of the Harris Tweed weaver is woolen 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
On the outer edge of Europe and in the far north west of Scotland are the Western Isles or Outer Hebrides, 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 but 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 Kilometers each rich with wildlife and the rugged landscapes offering great opportunities for the more adventurous visitor.
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. Finished handmade cloth was 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…
Facts and figures
0 Number of places Harris Tweed can be woven outwith the Outer Hebrides
1 Number of Harris Tweed inspectors and stampers
2 Minimum number of colours in any Harris Tweed yarn
3 Number of Harris Tweed mills currently in production
6 Maximum number of weft colours added to Harris Tweed
13 Average number of hours required to weave a length of Harris Tweed
15 Number of inhabited islands in Outer Hebrides
18 Number of weft threads per inch in average weight tweed
48 Number of countries the Orb Mark is registered and protected in
58 Number of meters in average piece of Harris Tweed
101 Number of years since Orb Mark registered
140 Number of Harris Tweed weavers working today
1392 Number of warp ends in a double-width tweed
26502 Population of Outer Hebrides at turn of 21st Century
31924 Certification Trademark number of the Orb Mark
7632150 Number of yards of Harris Tweed produced in peak year of 1966
All information © Harris Tweed Authority 2012 and may not be reproduced without permission.