Sunday, 10 April 2011

Harris Tweed Heaven

Material is just as, if not MORE, important than the furniture I choose to recover. So when Mr Briggs and I chose to honeymoon on the Isle of Harris I knew it was going to be expensive. First off we stopped at the Harris Tweed shop next to the ferry port at Tarbert. As well as a very friendly, well stocked shop full of bags, jackets, scarfs, lavender filled scotty dogs, and even shoes, there was an utterly amazing warehouse full to the brim of real Harris tweed.
And in the most amazing colours.
I literally spent hours looking, touching, smelling and loving this tweed while Mr Briggs sat in his new car.

So after buying everything we could fit in the car we went for a drive and stumbled across the Isle of Harris Knitwear Company. I love the fact that this grand sounding company is a woman who has turned her garage into a shop. I bought a cosy jumper that she had knitted (think BBC4's The Killing) to keep the island winds at bay, and she told me that she bought her tweed from Donald John Mackay - who happened to love visitors!

So next stop was Donald John's portacabin to see how this beautiful material is made.
His loom was brought over to the island brand new in 1970, and he knows exactly how to keep it ticking, and repair it if necessary. Donald John learnt how to make tweed from his father and has earned a living this way all of his life. The skill is dying out due to so many young people leaving Harris and finding their fortunes in more modern ways, but Donald John is part of a new initiative teaching young people how to make tweed. When we met him, Donald John was busy packing to fly down to Somerset to meet Clarks Shoes, proving that not only is he a savvy business man, but tweed really can be used for everything and anything.
The day we visited Donald John we got absolutely drenched in pouring rain and gale force winds, but check out how beautiful his views over Luskentyre beach are! You can definitely see how the amazing colours inspire the tweed, like this blue one I bought...

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