The Harris Tweed® Journal

Back to Basics Series – Day 8

3rd April

Weaving

By statutory Act of Parliament, the weaving of Harris Tweed® may only be done within the homes of islanders in the Outer Hebrides. What’s more, no automation is allowed. To this day, every inch of Harris Tweed is produced by human power alone, with pedals used to drive the loom mechanism.

Harris Tweed weaving series

The warp beam, together with the yarn for the weft and the weaving instructions, arrives from the mill and the weaver sets to work. The first task is to set up the loom. A change in weave design might require the rearrangement of the loom’s heddles (the wire “eyes” each warp thread passes through). The weaver then begins hand-tying every thread of the new warp onto the tail-ends of the previous weave. This could mean tying more than 1500 knots!

A pattern card must also be fitted to the loom. The punched holes in the card tell the loom which colour of weft thread is to be woven in. With every revolution of the pedals, the loom’s “rapier” is propelled across the width of the warp, picking up one single weft thread at a time.

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