Tag Archives: Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed returns to Uig in the Hebrides

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From NEW 3D WEAVING in the last post to AN OLD WEAVING TRADITION getting a new life.

I am no Luddite, and I don’t actually know what the Hattersley Domestic Loom, used by Harris Tweed Weavers looks like, but I was thinking about the fact that I came across both these articles at the same time, and I chose to feature the NEW over the OLD first, and that weaving as a commercial enterprise, such as HARRIS TWEED has a long history.  

Luddites were the original movement that objected to the “new commercial looms” in the late 1700’s – I vaguely remember from my school history lessons on the Industrial Revolution.

Would someone like to contribute an INFORMATION SHEET (i/sheet) on the topic?


 

Copied verbatim from the Herald Scotland – you can see the original newspaper article HERE.

Harris Tweed weaving returns to old haunts

Harris Tweed weaving returns to old haunts

It is worn by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, showcased at Florentine and Parisian fashion shows and decorates everything from upmarket handbags and hotels to US motorcycle jackets.

But now Harris Tweed is rediscovering some of its own Hebridean roots with the return of weaving to the Uig area of Lewis for the first time in a quarter of a century.

And it is two young local men Domhnall Iain (D.I.) MacDonald in Gisla and Calum George Buchanan in Valtos who are leading its revival in communities on the west side of the island. There already are reports of considerable interest from others in the district who see weaving as a good means of earning their livelihoods locally.

For more than 50 years, Harris Tweed flourished in Uig. One of the last of the old weavers, Seonaidh Buchanan, recalls the first six Hattersley looms coming to Valtos in 1938. They cost £35 each and the weavers were paid £7 a tweed.

The Hattersley Domestic Loom was the mainstay of the industry for the best part of the 20th century.

First introduced to the islands after the First World War, the Hattersley Mark One, helped ex-servicemen who had lost hands and arms to earn a living through weaving. Its rate of production was superior to the wooden hand looms that preceded it and it was capable of weaving more complex patterns.

At the industry’s peak after the Second World War, there were 34 looms in the Valtos peninsula alone. In Uig as a whole, there were at least 100 weavers and for most of these families, the loom was the main source of income.

The industry went into sharp decline in the 1980s and the last of the Hattersley weavers in Uig retired in the early 1990s.

But Seonaidh’s son Calum George has been able to return to live in Valtos with his wife Mairi and infant son Fionnlagh because of the opportunity created by weaving. He already has his dad helping him at the painstaking business of tyIng in. “At first he wanted to find out if he could still do it. Now I can’t keep him away from it,” he said.

D.I. also had weaving in his family. His father and latterly his uncle in Gisla were weavers. D.I. continues to work two days a week for the council but says weaving gives him far more flexibility to be at home and help Ann with looking after their three year old son, Seumas, who already sits beside him as he weaves, watching every movement of the loom.

Neil MacLeod, chairman of the Harris Tweed Weavers Association, mentored Calum George, an effective way for new weavers to learn the skills. Neil said there are more than 60 people looking for looms, many of them working offshore and seeing this as a means of making their livings at home.

The chairman of Harris Tweed Hebrides, former Labour energy minister Brian Wilson, who lives in the Uig village of Mangersta, said: “It is great to see weaving back in Uig. This sums up why the Harris Tweed revival is so important.

“It allows weavers like D.I. and Calum George to remain in their own communities, earn good livelihoods and raise their families here. We just need to keep it going and ensure a strong, stable future for the industry”.

David Ross / Tuesday 11 August 2015 / Home News