The Harris Tweed Shop claims to supply “the loveliest tweed in the world”, which seems like a herculean claim for a small shop remotely located in the Scottish Highlands. So, what makes Harris Tweed so special?
Harris Tweed is no ordinary tweed, as it is the only textile in the UK protected by its own Act of Parliament. The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 established a new statutory body to uphold the distinct and meticulous standards which the tweed must meet if it is to be given the ‘Mark of the Orb’ awarded by the Harris Tweed Authority. This stamp officially distinguishes Harris Tweed above the rest, prompting the Authority to call themselves the “Guardians of the Orb”.
By law, the tweed must be produced in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland on the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist, and Barra, and follow a precise manufacturing process. It is made from a blend of pure virgin wool from Scottish mainland and island sheep, which must be washed, dyed, and dried on an island mill before being spun. Dying wool before spinning it is an uncommon production technique, which creates a unique colour rich with labyrinthine shades and hues. Secret proportions of coloured and white wools are then blended together into a yarn, spun, and warped ready for weaving.