I am a single width Harris Tweed weaver using a 1930's Hattersley loom. I live in the village of North Shawbost on the West side of the Isle of Lewis. I moved to Lewis 8 years ago with my husband for a crofting life. On moving here we found we were unable to get jobs in our old professions but we soon developed an interest in weaving. We have not looked back since. We feel so lucky to be able to work in a job we enjoy - it keeps us physically fit but also allows us to use the creative side of our brains (which has not had much use in the past). I share a loom shed with my husband who weaves on a double width loom for one of the 3 mills.
Once I have decided on a weave pattern I visit one of the 2 closest mills to purchase the required yarn. I then use a warping bank and warping frame to prepare a warp chain for the loom. The warp chain is wound onto a beam and the 696 thread ends are tied onto the thread ends from the previous tweed. The knots are pulled through the reed of the loom ready for weaving. The required yarn colours for the weft are wound onto pirns using a motor driven pirn winder. The pirns go into shuttles for the weaving. The loom is operated by foot pedals. Once the weaving is complete the cloth is removed from the take up beam and is hung over rails for darning - knots are undone and sewn in and broken threads are repaired. A declaration form is completed by myself confirming that I have woven the tweed myself and complied with the Harris Tweed regulations. The tweed goes to a mill for the finishing processes that include washing, scouring, drying and cropping. Finally it is inspected and stamped with the Harris Tweed Orb mark by the Harris Tweed Authority inspectors.
Traditionally the colours of Harris Tweed are inspired by the rugged beauty of these islands. This is where I differ a little from tradition, I just cannot resist some of the brighter colours that are now available. However I am very interested in the different types of weave possible on a Hattersley loom using a variety of tappets some of which are rarely woven nowadays. I am hoping to play a part in keeping some of these weaves alive.
Preparing the warp