Thursday, December 8, 2011

Over the sea to Skye...then a wee bit further up the road and across some more water to the Tweed Mill

So way back in March I showed you all the treasure chest that is my kimono supply shop in Shibata (kimono hunting post) so today I thought we would go to the other side of the world to show you where I source my tweed.
It may seem a little unnecessary to travel all the way from Japan to Harris to get tweed when you can simply pick up the phone and talk to the mill (crazy high phone bills and time differences aside) but being an Island girl at heart I use any excuse to get out to the Hebrides thus when planning my last trip home I dropped the idea of a wee tweed gathering road trip to my mother, inception style, and mid November found myself making my way to Stornoway with not only my mother but Island virgin and through and through city slicker Sarah Thoms in tow.

mist rolling down the loch on the road to the islands
Cal Mac's finest to take us over the water
Random views of Harris
Callanish Standing Stones Isle of Lewis

This is the 100th year anniversary of the Orb mark being registered.  The orb mark certifies that the tweed is Harris Tweed meaning:
       "The Harris Tweed is cloth that has been hand-woven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and                Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides."
and it has been a good year with celebrations being held at the V&A, close to 1 million metres produced this year and being named Vogues textile of the year
Lorna Macaulay, chief executive of the Harris Tweed Authority, said: "Our phones are red hot. We have three mills producing tweed, they are selling to overseas markets and going to all the right shows. It's very exciting, especially during the economic downturn.
"There is a renaissance in handmade quality products, exactly the box Harris Tweed ticks. There is still a discerning customer out there who wants quality goods, handmade in Scotland." - stolen from the Guardian
This means that tweed has been showing up on everything from cushions to bags to shoes and of course hats.

This increase in production means that there has been a flood of new colours and patterns coming out of the mills which means even funkier hats for you in the very near future.  For anyone who has a chance to take in the islands at least once grab your wellies and a waterproof coat and GO.  For those that can't I give you some photos below of my tweed lined Aladdin's cave and a link to a lovely book all about the life of tweed and its relationship to the land and people of the Outer Hebrides.

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