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The Harris Tweed Project
Posted on: 7th September, 2018
Long before the Isle of Harris Distillery was founded our people were making beautiful things, created with craft and care.
Inspired by the colours of the land, sea and skyscapes around them, local men and women worked hard to share something with the world which embodied the best of our Outer Hebridean home and was worthy of bearing this island’s name.
Harris Tweed has been woven here for over 100 years, initially on small wooden looms with shin-bone shuttles, before the large, clumsy frames of the Beart-mhòr finally came to life. Cast-iron Hattersley looms took up the task in the early 20th century and today modern, double-width machines can be still found clattering away.
More than a century on, Harris Tweed remains as iconic as ever, being worn by actors and aristocracy alike, gracing catwalks from Paris to Milan and continuing to explore its potential in many more ways than the traditional sporting jackets which first brought it to the attention of the world all those years ago.
Here at the distillery, we have embraced the Clò Mòr (the big cloth as it is known in Gaelic) from the outset of our endeavours, using the wonderful textile in our interior design and furnishings. We’ve also looked to the values of provenance, style and skill behind this historic cloth as inspiration for our own work.
So, tonight we’re delighted to weave our two stories together as we launch ‘The Harris Tweed Project’ in collaboration with industry governing body the Harris Tweed Authority and award-winning producer Harris Tweed Hebrides and with the support of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Education Services.
As part of our ongoing social media storytelling, we will be exploring the history, heritage and tradition which lies behind the loomshed door and take you into the midst of the busy woollen mills. We’ll be meeting spinners, dyers and weavers, learning about their craft and hearing their own stories too.
At the heart of this endeavour lies a competition to design a unique Isle of Harris Distillery tweed as part of our Year of Young People 2018 activities. We will be inviting school pupils across the Outer Hebrides to design the final pattern and working with the winner to bring their ideas to fruition as a very special length of Harris Tweed cloth.
Here in our community, like the individual fragile yarns from which Harris Tweed is made, we find strength when we are bound together in collective endeavours like these. We look forward to sharing the warp and weft of our work as it progresses and we're confident the results of our collaborations will create something rather beautiful.
Please join us on our social media channels throughout next week for more on all these plans or visit www.harrisdistillery.com/harristweedproject.