Before our Harris Tweed can be sent to the customer, it needs, of course, to be fully dried and also needs to be pressed so that it arrives in perfect condition.
The cloth is dried and shrunk to the required width in a tenter machine as the cloth is held out taut on hooks (from which the saying ‘on tenter hooks’ derives!) The cloth is then cropped on a machine which basically acts like a mower, removing a certain amount of surface fibre. Finally the cloth is blow-steamed under pressure to give a similar effect to ironing
And after all this the entire piece is checked over, once again, inch by inch. The finished fabric goes back to the table, where it is carefully looked over once again. Surrounded by eagle-eyed women who lay out the cloth and attend to the tiniest flaws or speck of unwanted wool, they pick over the cloth with tweezers and small straw brushes to ensure the Harris Tweed that is delivered deserves to bear its illustrious name.
There is one final, all-important step, before the Harris Tweed can be dispatched.
It has to be certified by the official Harris Tweed Authority inspector, before it can carry the Harris Tweed Orb trademark label.
The inspection is carried out not by an employee of the mill, but by an Inspector employed by the Harris Tweed Authority. He visits several times a week, and for each piece of fabric examines the certifications that prove each requirement of the Act of Parliament have been met.
Only when he is satisfied is the fabric stamped at each end, and the paperwork issued. Now it can benefit from it own unique label. Now the cloth truly can be called Harris Tweed and be shipped worldwide to discerning customers.
And so ends our journey! Almost…
Once the cloth leaves our shores a new story begins. Whether the Harris Tweed, dyed, spun and woven here in the Outer Hebrides with such love and care, becomes a jacket or a piece of catwalk couture, we know it carries on being appreciated and cared for becoming much loved and playing a part in thousands of people’s life stories the world over.
We’re proud our cloth’s story continues in your hands and we sincerely wish Harris Tweed’s travels and tales continue with you for many more years to come…