Thursday 3rd April was national tweed day. Miss Piggy was spotted in a bespoke Vivienne Westwood/Harris Tweed dogtooth two-piece (picture below) ahead of the new Muppets movie. Tweed – with Harris Tweed at the helm – is now a byword for style and long may that continue.It is a long way from recent times when tweedy was often used in common parlance for all things old-fashioned and ‘uncool’.
Spending a few days in The Hebridean Islands you soon realise that everyday is ‘tweed day’. Spring is a great time to visit the Islands. The flora and fauna awake from their winter slumber, the moorland manifests a healthier glow and the waves come crashing in pushing the golden sand further up the beaches.
Springtime also heralds the busiest season for the Harris Tweed industry. Orders are in, designs are cut, yarns are issued and weavers are weaving. Nature’s cycle is mirrored in Harris Tweed and the long bright summer months are a deserving reward for the harsh winter struggle.
And all this a mere five years after tweed was, well tweedy. We are pleased that Harris Tweed is loved the world over and proud of our influence on ‘National Tweed day’ ,Vivienne Westwood and Miss Piggy but we ask you – our ambassadors - to continue to shine a light on the beauty of the Harris Tweed process and the exquisite nature of our Islands. Oh and if you are thinking about an Easter break then there some islands off the north west of Scotland worth a visit; good shopping too.
The final act in an almost orchestral production of a beautiful fabric - the pressing of The Orb stamp onto a piece of Harris Tweed.
Uniquely recognisable, covetable and protected by law, but The Orb is so much more than a trademark. It’s the cultural imprint of a way of life.
For so many islanders who grew up in weaving communities, Harris Tweed is as woven into their own personal heritages as the coloured yarns are bound together from warp and weft.
“The presence of the looms provided the village of my childhood with much of its energy and vitality,” says Lewis writer Donald S Murray in the prelude to his poetry collection, Weaving Songs.
“Each one of these men seemed to possess a Hattersley loom with its own unique set of sounds, its own beat, even its own hours when its clack and rattle were to be heard. And so it was throughout the islands of Lewis and Harris at that time – the same rhythms and music echoed from Rodel in the far south to Port of Ness in the north.”
These sounds – the clack and rattle and the rhythms – are part of the musical fabric of this part of the world and as readily identifiable with the soundscape of the Western Isles as the rush of the Atlantic ocean and the traditional Gaelic psalm singing.
Anyone who has seen Ian Lawson’s beautiful book, From The Land Comes The Cloth, will have been struck by how the colours in the landscape, right up to the heavens, are mirrored so vividly in the colours of the Clo Mor.
That visual intertwining is also captured by poet Donald. “Beneath the mackerel skies of spring, Shonnie’s loom would shoal out herringbone,” he writes.
In the islands, the dramatically shifting skies are a daily reminder of how little the land has been changed by the years.
Similarly, today’s loud song from the looms is the amplification of a 100-year-old cultural sotto voce. Music to the ears.
Beige, magnolia, ‘brilliant’ white and other neutrals are still the easy, comfortable and safe options when it comes to interiors but leading hotels and upholstery companies are encouraging a bold new age for colour and patterns.
The Blythswood Hotel in Glasgow and more recently The Caberfeidh in Stornoway (pictured above) have used bold colours of our heavier tweed and stand as great examples of how a textured ‘splash of colour’ can add even more warmth than a more traditional wallpaper or coat of paint.
We have a whole new range of bright coloured Harris Tweed in plain and patterned designs available at our Stornoway store. These standard weight fabrics are ideal for soft furnishings like curtains and cushions and the multitude of colours in our yarns help our patterns blend more easily to an existing colour scheme.
We have picked our TRT021 as an example. Bold blues with fawn plaid under a statement orange window pane. In interior design there is nothing wrong with neutrality but a cut of Harris Tweed could add both elegance and provenance to your home.
“All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances” so mused Bill Shakespeare but if he was around today he may replace stage with catwalk.
The fashion show circuit of catwalk shows and beautifully styled instillations now holds interest way beyond the fashion and textiles industry. In addition the entourage of bloggers (genuine) and wannabes generate endless on-line photos and copy that can usually be described as the good, the bad and the ugly.
This week was all about the good. The photo above (left) shows our fabric on the Parisian catwalk for Maison Martin Margiela. The image on the right is of respected fashion buyer, blogger and stylist @Kimair from her blog on the infinite versatility of a good Harris Tweed jacket.
What is an unquestionable positive aspect of these modern digital times is the easy access to information that allows us to ‘open the croft gate’ on the Harris Tweed industry.
As the nights get longer and the weavers and mill head towards their busiest time of the year we will be bringing you more stories from The Hebrides; just recently voted the best in Europe. What Bill Shakespeare or Rabbie Burns would have made of the beauty of our Islands we will never know but we have plenty of artists, artisans and plain old good characters to tell the story.
‘Never work with children or animals’ proclaimed Alan Titchmarsh on this weeks ITV show. The studio was festooned with dogs, sheep and wonderful Harris Tweed products.
After a tense stand-off with a Devon Closewool sheep (twinkle) and a St Bernard dog (Bernie) the show got under way with a feature on Britain’s ‘youngest shepherd’ followed by some exquisite dancing by Strictly’s Anton Du Beck and then it was tweed time.
Mark Hogarth of Harris Tweed Hebrides introduced products including, M&S and Tetrad before Doody (pictured above) the Chihuahua stole the show in his carrier from Love My Dog. Even though actor John Michie looked great in his jacket, Doody was without doubt the Harris Tweedstar of the week.
Harris Tweed Hebrides shop will soon stock a range of quality products pour le pooch including the Macdawg leads/collars below. Until now Harris Tweed has been more associated with the catwalk so we are pleased we are now part of the ‘dog walk’.