For as long as I can remember I have dreamed of a trip to Harris/Lewis and the possibility of buying Tweed from source. Last week my dream came true on wild, blustery, beautiful trip summed up in this photo of Luskentyre beach
My first tentative foray was into the Loom Centre in Stornoway.
A real cornucopia of Tweed and Tweed related items but we agreed he seemed to be more suited to the menswear market. But gamely he helped me search and we found these pieces, I need a navy skirt and the other pieces was among the prettier designs and at £20 for a double width skirt length it felt a bargain!
My next visit was to to a newly opened shop called Tweedtastic. You can find her on Facebook. Leona was just a sweetheart and I bought this lovely piece from her for a jacket. She couldn’t believe I would make my own jacket. My husband said and did you whip out your phone and say these are the suits I made my sons. 😳 yes I am that predictable.. I left her with instructions to start an IG account, get a website and Craftsy classes to help improve her own sewing! 👍
After that I visited the lovely Harris Tweed Hebrides shop and found a very cheerful remnant then later went back to buy the pink jacket length. That didn’t feel such a personal experience but I love the colours.
I thought I was done but oh my the best was yet to come. We found the amazing Harris Tweed Exhibition and we were both completely inspired. This could be a life goal
We found an unassuming little hut, no real sign post by the beach in the first photo. After a lovely chat and demonstration of the Loom with this gentle, modest man we settled on these pieces. My lovely husband encouraging me all the way
It wasn’t until I got home I read this article about him Isle of Harris Stories. It’s a long read but well worth it. I had no idea I was talking to a hero. I would have hugged him. Maybe it’s as well I hadn’t read this first 😂
With a full and satisfied heart we left to arrive for a couple of days in Skye. Unplanned, let’s try this road days which first of all led me to Skye Shilaadair Shop which had a lovely exhibition of hand dying techniques. This was such a beautiful experience and I had to sit on my hands but my husband declared his dream of handknitted socks. I knitted a pair for his father when he was in hospice and his BIL got his dad to leave them to him in his will! Well he got him to sign a note of ownership. The only thing is I didn’t realise sock yarn was 3 ply so we’re going to start with some tweedy DK to get me back on the sock game. He chose the burgundy and bought me a book on Celtic shawls ❤️
Then as if this wasn’t enough we stumbled on Skye Weavers This was fascinating and there I learnt more about tweed production and I think got my answers as to how the jacket double widths could be produced at £35 a mtr. The system here used giant cones of wool and a rustic and inventive mechanism for preparing the warp. There is a difference between the larger mills and the independent, small business home weavers.
For the bigger mills they do use pedal power and hand tie the threads on the Loom but the warp rolls are delivered pre done. For hand Weavers like Donald they use bobbins which need to be changed and refilled. For him a 12 hour day has only 2.5 hours actually pedalling. So I am left in awe that I could buy pieces for £21 a mtr single width. I have so much respect for my pieces, however they have been produced it’s real labour and skill. I will be hunting out more independent Weavers next time. There will be a next time!
I bought two bags of scraps to try out this idea and this morning had a lovely morning collecting driftwood.
This is my winter taken care of I think.
Just one last thing, if your daft enough to think camping would be a great way to visit …..don’t if the wind doesn’t get you the midgies will!😂