In the summer 2019 we rented a car in Poland, loaded it with our camping gear and dog and drove over 2.300 kms to the Isle of Harris is Scotland. Our goal was to learn all about the Harris tweed cloth, while enjoying the wild and open landscapes of the islands.
Always in love of anything British inspired, we had been thinking for a while to incorporate the Harris cloth into a new collection of Liebre boots but had never came across this material in our previous journeys. Therefore we travelled to the source to meet with the weavers of this mystic cloth.
Below, it’s what we learnt during our visit and the reason why we are absolutely in love with Harris tweed.
Different persons are involved in the creation of a Harris Tweed cloth, from the designer to the warper. But the weavers, with their looms, are the ones bringing the cloth into existence.
There are about 200 weavers living in the Isle of Harris and Lewis in charge of operating the looms. They are all self-employed and work at their homes in their weaving sheds, where they may create as many as four metres of tweed per hour.
Harris tweed is the only fabric in the world governed by its own Act of Parliament. Therefore, for a tweed to be called Harris tweed it must be made without electricity, in the Outer Hebrides and with Scottish virgin wool.
The cloth is weaved on human-powered looms, some of which are over a century old. Many times, the weavers double as mechanics and have a secret stack of spare parts just in case they might come handy.
In summer the sheep own the islands. The roam free on the grass or the drive ways enjoying their never ending supply of fresh grassland. The pure virgin wool of these sheep will be later blended together to gain the advantages of their unique characteristics.
Thanks to this raw material, Harris tweed is breathable and water resistant. It is warm in winter and cool in summer. It cleans easily and resist wear and tear with ease.
There is no other textile in the world that so closely represents the natural colours and scenery of the place where it comes from. If you are ever lucky enough to travel to the Outer Hebrides, you will see by yourself the earthy colour palettes of the islands – the hundred variations of browns and greens,, with splashes of reds, lilacs, or oranges.
Look close the a Harris tweed thread and you will discover dozens of colours hidden in what it just looked as green. This universe of colour blends inspired by the isles is what makes this cloth so remarkable and cozy to wear.