The Need for Tweed

Do you ever feel the need for tweed? Well, today we’re celebrating National Tweed Day!

Did you know, Spark is headquartered in a retired tweed mill!? Many of the old mills in the UK have sadly been demolished – but a lucky handful (including ours) have been refurbished into offices and even apartments!

sparktweed

What is tweed?

Tweed is a rough and closely woven fabric which is traditionally dyed with natural colours to blend well with the Scottish landscape.

There are two main types of tweed:

  • Harris Tweed – Handwoven by islanders at their homes in the Outer Hebrides, finished in the Outer Hebrides, and made from pure virgin wool dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.
  • Donegal Tweed – A handwoven tweed manufactured in County DonegalIreland.

The process of making tweed is a rather complicated and strenuous task.

Firstly, the wool is collected and dyed and then needs to be spun and tumble-dried to ensure that all moisture has gone.

After a few additional steps, the yarn must be spun, twisting it around 6-8 times to gain strength. Then, it’s a matter of steadily weaving the Harris Tweed cloth, inch by inch, yard by yard. This process can take as long as 13 hours a sitting – using a fair amount of energy!

In fact, the textile industry has relatively high energy level consumption in comparison to other industries consuming 0.4% of the UK’s national energy.

Tying_Harris_Tweed

What on earth is National Tweed Day, we hear you ask?

The day annually observed on 3rd April in both America and UK, holds a few different meanings; why don’t you choose which you’d rather believe –

  • Some people reckon it commemorates American senator-turned-crook William “Boss” Tweed, who was born on 3rd April 1868. “Boss” Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City.
  • Whilst others believe it simply celebrates the wonderful tweed fabric and its complex process of creation!

So, why not look fabulously British for the day, by dusting off that fine tweed flat-cap or waistcoat and proudly wearing it out and about 😉

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