not twee TWEEDY 2

 photographs courtesy of

Tweed yarn's characteristic flecks of colour create a versatile textile, chic, yet capable of great warmth and protection from the elements, due to tiny tiny air pockets created by the roving flecks and historically the perfect example of reuse and recycling. As reimagined by Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld, tweed is versatile--gold lurex, raffia, and other fibbers lend themselves to his pliable imagination. His Autumn 2010 Ready to Wear is particularly wonderful, playing with fringed knits and tweeds, shreds of silk chiffon, and other allusions to the origins of tweed. The pink suit below imposes the rigour of pleats on shredded chiffon.

Scottish frugality (not necessarily by choice) probably contributed to the creation of tweed yarn, adding bits of roving dyed other colours to a consistent single colour being spun to avoid waste. Basically during the 18th and 19th centuries recycling was pervasive, nothing was exempt from being shredded to spin new yarns from horse blankets and rugs (producing shoddy) to finely knit wool stockings (used for mungo). Even Charles Dickens wrote about this phenomenon, visiting the city of Bately, Victorian England's capitol of shoddy production.

Describing his experience he wrote, "We learned from the [railway] station-master the names and addresses of the two principal mill owners, and after we had satisfied these gentlemen that we were not secret emissaries of trade rivals anxious to pry into the mysteries of their manufacture, but simply in search of reproducible information, we were received with great courtesy, and conducted through their respective establishments. And the first piece of information afforded us was that the outside world is wrong in its general acceptation of the word "shoddy," and of its entire ignorance of the word "mungo." It may be broadly stated that the preparation made from rags is called shoddy, while that pulled out of old cloth and woollen goods is called “mungo."

From spinning tweed yarn that was used by crofters in the Outer Hebrides to weave warm blankets and outerwear, Harris Tweed evolved and long established it's trademark and protections through the use of the orb logo. The name is derived from the North Harris Estate owned by Lord & Lady Dunmore who promoted the textile.

carla breeze 2016