At the heart of the Harris Tweed industry lies the relationship between the weavers and the mills. Neither can survive without the other and their shared history truly tells the story of the cloth.
The Harris Tweed weaver is a true artisan, the master of his loom in the same way a musician relates to his instrument. Each loom will have its own sound, quirks and idiosyncrasies and only the weaver will know how to get the best from it. It may take a weaver hours to ready his loom for weaving a new cloth and once weaving may create four meters of crafted tweed an hour once underway, watching constantly for flaws as they go.
However the weaver is only part of the story, without the skill of the millworkers there would be no yarn to weave. Dozens of specialised jobs take place in the mill sheds, each learned only after years of training. There are professional wool dyers and blenders, yarn spinners and warpers, cloth finishers and stampers and many more roles in between.
From croft to catwalk the men and women of the islands take great pride in their work, the results of which can be seen in every piece of Harris Tweed that leaves their shores.
‘A bheairt sin nach fhaighear ach cearr, ‘s e foighidinn as fhearr a dheanamh rithe’.
The loom that’s awry is best handled patiently.