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As lifelong lovers of textiles and design, it was probably fortuitous for us to settle in the Hebrides – but we are glad we did and Borrisdale Tweed was and is one of the outcomes of our relocation.
Many words have been written concerning our chief raw material of choice - HARRIS TWEED®. The iconic cloth of these islands is, by order of its defining Act of Parliament, woven on a non-mechanised loom situated within the home of the weaver. The constituent yarn must also be produced in the islands and is spun from pure new wool. Unconventionally, the fibres are dyed as loose stock, prior to being blended, carded and spun - giving a characteristic and uniquely variegated appearance to the yarn, which in turn defines the multitude of colours perceived in the fabric.
Of the 150 or so active weavers of HARRIS TWEED®, a handful or so work independently from the mills. Central to the aims of Borrisdale Tweed are to showcase these endeavours. Independent weavers retain creative control through undertaking their own warping and weaving - often producing small batches of their cloth, each distinct in their use of pattern, hue and texture.
As is required, our own loom resides in its shed in Borrisdale – a township of permanent population < 20 at the very southern tip of the Isle of Harris – between the hillock of Strannabhal to the north and the sheltered inlet of Port Eisgein on the Sound of Harris.
What we do is simple in its concept - the design and making of good quality home textiles and accessories, using independently woven HARRIS TWEED® from our loom or others in the locale. There’s an emphasis on simplicity, keeping things unadorned to showcase the characteristics of the cloth – our’s tends to eschew the more traditional colours and patterns, relying on a more restrained palette of hues and less common fabric constructions (think Tweed but not Tweedy!).
Finally, in these uncertain times, there’s a recognition that supply chains must become more localised and circular to be sustainable. The inherent robustness of the cloth naturally imparts an enduring quality to our products and we strive to minimise waste in our pattern cutting. We make > 90% of our products ourselves in our workshop in nearby Leverburgh, with the remainder being produced for us by small scale manufacturers and makers within the British Isles.
Carol Graham and Rob English
Co-Founders – Borrisdale Tweed