Just back from my research trip to the Outer Hebrides to find a weaver to collaborate with on the design and weaving of the Cowal Tweed for the refurbished Dunoon Burgh Hall.
I initially visited weavers in Stornoway, Lewis who were weaving beautiful cloth on large double cloth Bonas Griffiths looms. They mainly worked to large orders for the local mills, and our order would be to small for them. We needed only a small warp of about 60metres of our bespoke tweed cloth, so we needed to collaborate with an independent weaver who used a single cloth Hattersley loom and wove fabric to their own designs. I headed down to Harris to speak to Sheila Roderick on Scalpay who recently trained new weavers on the single cloth Hattersley looms, and to Donald John Mackay at Luskentyre, who is accredited for the Nike order which created a resurgence of interest in Harris Tweed cloth for fashion and furnishing companies. Both weavers are well respected for their stunning cloth and contributions to the flourishing of Harris Tweed. Sheila and Donald John were wonderful to talk to, they were helpful and knowledgeable about the making of Harris Tweed, the traditions, culture, processes, inspiration and their hopes for it's future.
I travelled by local minibus, school bus and hitching lifts with local tradesmen and tourists visiting weavers in their weaving sheds across Harris. I spoke to independent weavers in Tarbert, Scalpay, Luskentyre and Northton, where I met the wonderful Rebecca Hutton of Taobh Tuath. Becca is going to be our weaver on the project and is wonderfully talented. She has been weaving for four years, designing and weaving beautiful cloth which she sells from her weaving shed on her croft in Taobh Tuath, on the south west of Harris.
Rebecca at her loom beginning of a new tweed
Interior of Rebecca's weaving shed with prin winder and loom.
Rebecca's weaving shed that she built herself at Taobh Tuath, Northton.
Sheila Roderick's Studio i the old school building at Scalpay. Sheila weaves beautiful linen, often commissioned for movies (Lord of the Rings) and spins wool. She also runs weaving and spinning workshops, and trains weavers in the making of Harris Tweed on the single cloth Hattersley looms.
Donald John Mackay's weaving shed at Luskentyre.
Donal John's cloth at the loom. His colours reflect the stunning landscape his weaving shed is set in.