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Wednesday, October 6, 2021

My Obsession with Harris Tweed ~ Sherri Easley


Okay, I confess, when it comes to fabric, I have an addiction. It’s to the point now that when the doorbell rings; I peek through the curtains to make sure it’s not the camera crew from “Hoarders”, the TV series. Seriously though, I emptied my house so I can do a fast sell if I find my dream house, and my crafts and fabric alone have filled a 10’ x10’ storage building.

When I went to Scotland in 2019, and because of this need to collect beautiful fabric, my cousin ensured we visit a weaver of Harris Tweed. Until that point, I did not know what it was. Who knew that would be the start of an obsession.

I pulled some info off Wiki about Harris Tweed.

Harris Tweed, (Clò Mór or Clò Hearach in Gaelic) is a tweed cloth that is 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. This definition, quality standards and protection of the Harris Tweed name are enshrined in the Harris Tweed Act 1993.


The creation of Harris Tweed begins with the fleece of pure virgin wools, which are shorn from Cheviot and Scottish Blackface sheep. Although most of the wool is from the UK mainland, in the early summer the island communities join to round up and shear the local sheep to add to the mix. All the wool is then blended to gain the advantages of their unique qualities and characteristics.

The wool is cleaned and set in large bales before being delivered to the mills of the main tweed producers, where it is dyed in a wide variety of colors for blending.

The freshly dyed colored and white wools are weighed then blended by hand to exact specification to get the correct hue. It is carded between mechanical, toothed rollers, which tease and mix the fibers thoroughly before it is separated into a fragile, embryonic yarn. This soft yarn is then twisted as it is spun to give it maximum strength for weaving before winding onto bobbins to provide the ingredients of weft (left-to-right threads) and warp (vertical threads) supplied to the weavers.

All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver's home. The weaver will 'tie in' their warp by threading each end of yarn through the eyelets of their loom's heddles in a specific order, then it begins to weave, fixing any mistakes or breakages that occur until completed.

The tweed then returns to the mill in its 'greasy state' and here it passes through the hands of darners who correct any flaws.

Once ready, dirt, oil and other impurities are removed by washing and beating in soda and soapy water before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped.

The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority, which visits the mills weekly, before application of their Orb Mark trademark, which is ironed on to the fabric as a seal of authenticity.

Only genuine Harris Tweed can bear the Harris Tweed Label.

I added a few photos of things I have made. Unfortunately, I only like to create and not sell, and most of my creations are given as gifts.





10 comments:

  1. Are clothes and things made from Harris Tweed scratchy? I remember wool as very scratchy. Of course, I am allergic to it, so that might be the problem. :)

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    1. Funny that you ask that- I remember that wool letter jacket from school- it was terrible! I was always allergic to wool as a kid- found it scratchy and itchy- The tweed I work with is a little scratchy- but it seems to have a great deal of natural lanoline still in it-that makes it softer.

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  3. OMG, I see why you're obsessed with Harris Tweed, and your creations are quite beautiful!

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    1. Thank you Jacquie! I do tend to collect more fabric than I have time for though.

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    2. Wait until you see the purses she made for me! I have a shoulder bag and a small hand purse. They're gorgeous. I admit I hardly ever use them for fear they'll get stained or damaged. They are museum-worthy! I love, love, love them--and Sherri for making them for me. She is a true artist as well as writer and successful business woman for an aerospace company.

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  4. These are beautiful! I love to sew, but creating purses is beyond me!

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    1. Thank you! So, I have sewn most of my life- and this was my entry into making purses. Many of the smaller ones though were made on my embroidery machine so I didn't actually do any real work.

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  5. This was so interesting. It is very pretty material and I'm so glad people are working to keep the traditions of this fabric going strong. I'm not a sewer. Thank God you and others are!

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    1. Thank you Kara. I agree on keeping the tradition and art alive. The gentleman in the photo above was telling us how not many young people are learning the art.

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