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Harris Tweed ... An Clò Mór

First catch your sheep! running sheep

"Harris Tweed is cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra in their homes, using pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides."

This is the official description of Harris Tweed, as defined by Act of Parliament.

It was in the mid-nineteenth century that the Dowager Countess of Dunmore - widow of the first non-native proprietor of the island - encouraged the people of Harris to improve their techniques for producing homespun cloth. She put the cottage industry on a commercial footing, giving a great boost to the local economy.

Certain operations are now done by machinery, but in former times, of course, everything was done by hand, often to the accompaniment of song. Spinning, for instance, is a long, tedious process. What better than a song or ten to pass the time?

Below is a summary in pictures of how Harris Tweed was made. Clicking on a picture will usually bring up a larger version.

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