Everyone's heard of Harris Tweed, but do you know exactly what it is, where it comes from and who makes it? Get your notebooks and pens at the ready for a little 101 lesson all about our favourite fabric.
You know how champagne can only be produced in Champagne or Wensleydale cheese can only be produced in North Yorkshire? Harris Tweed is exactly the same. Tweed is made all over the British Isles and beyond, but to get the sought-after label of "Harris" tweed, it needs to be woven in the Outer Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. It has been a protected trademark since 1993 and the Harris Tweed Authority makes sure all genuine Harris Tweed cloth get its official stamp - or orb - of approval. The exclusivity of Harris Tweed is part of what makes it so special; Harris Tweed products are of the highest quality and can only be made by expert craftsmen.
Speaking of craftsmen, who exactly makes the Harris Tweed? Well, it can either be made by independent weavers or by expert weavers at one of the three main mills: The Carloway Mill, Harris Tweed Hebrides Mill, or Harris Tweed Scotland Mill. The tradition of weaving Harris Tweed goes back centuries and generation upon generation of families have continued this ancient art up to the present day. All Harris Tweed is handwoven by these Hebridean craftsmen - no industrial machinery or mass production involved!
As well as the more traditional greens, browns and blues, Harris Tweed is also made in a whole host of bright colours and patterns, like the pink and orange which make up part of our signature collection. Made from pure virgin wool, Harris Tweed begins its life at the mill where the wool is washed and dyed before being sent to the weavers, either in the mill or in their own homes. Many islanders have their own treadle looms at home to produce Harris Tweed, and it is then sent back to the mill to be finished, washed, pressed and cut. That's when people like us at Ballanby come in; we design our products using the finished Harris Tweed and then it can take pride of place in your wardrobe.