Monday, 25 April 2011

Road to the Isles (3) - Harris Tweed

We arrived at the lovely Harris Hotel wondering if we would be as lucky with our accommodation as we had been last time - and we weren't disappointed. Suzanne was allocated "my" room from last time - which was more than we could have hoped for - and "my" room this time was of an equally high standard. Good start!

This time we chose not to have dinner in the hotel, instead we opted for some delicious fish and chips in the Harris Inn (neighbour to the hotel) then hit the hay for a well-earned rest.

It was Suzanne's love of Harris Tweed fabric that first took us to the Outer Hebrides around 18 months ago (my first time - her umpteenth!). At that time the Harris Tweed Industry was in a precarious state and the availability of the fabric was in short supply. As Suzanne is the maker of some beautiful tweed products, this set off the alarm bells. So on a mission of mercy we headed north on a Harris Tweed hunt. By the time that trip was over Suzanne had acquired a hefty supply of the wooly stuff to keep her happy for quite some time. So this trip was more of a holiday than a hunt. However, how could she possibly be in Harris without purchasing just a wee bit more?

So after a hearty Scottish breakfast (which included the delicious Stornoway black pudding - yum!) the Harris Tweed & Knitewear Shop was our first port of call.

At the back of the warehouse lay Katie's loom. We visited Katie during our last trip and she gave us a demonstration of how she weaved her tweed - at home in the traditional way; by hand on the traditional loom - overlooking the inspirational and beautiful Scottish landscape. There were two looms in Katie's workshop, the second worked by her daughter Catherine who has taken the tradition forward to the next generation.

Unfortunately, Katie has since passed away. So her loom has been brought to the warehouse in Tarbert with, I believe, the intention of giving weaving demonstrations to visitors to the warehouse.

Crisis over? These days the warehouse certainly appears to be heaving with tweed

from the traditional

to the contemporary

Here is a selection of Suzanne's purchases.

Nice eh?!

As for Catherine's shop - business has certainly picked up in the last 18 months and it is now heaving with Harris Tweed products.

which, though great to see,

I hope as much attention is being paid

to quality

as it is to quantity!

Sometimes - less is more - don't you think?

Do you like Harris Tweed? Traditional or contemporary?


  1. Utterly fascinating.
    Wish I could have been there to see it all.
    Weather 80'f here today.
    I LOVE the cards you sent me.
    Will send Henry his tomorrow and have linked to you in my NY blog.
    Thank you.

  2. Hello Bella - I came to you through Elizabeth in NY who I know from when she lived in Morocco. I love your photos of Scotland - my mum was born on the Isle of Rothsay, which i would love to visit one day. Enjoy your travels!

  3. Hello:
    Somehow we missed this fascinating post. Happily we have caught up now!

  4. Great blog posts Isobel! Just scrolled down from the very top and love all your photos. I do love Harris tweed and while I like how the traditional colours reflect the colours in the sea and the landscape, the contemporary tweeds really do it for me : )

  5. I was in love with Suzanne's fabrics ... and then I saw the shoes and boots! I think the contemporary tweeds are really fantastic.