Here is our Harris Tweed trip!
To get to Isle of Lewis, we boarded a big car ferry at Uig on the Isle of Skye.

Skye is lush and green with little cottages dotting the hillside - very picturesque.
Fishing nets on the docks.

The cars are packed into the ferry like sardines, and the people board the upper decks of the ship.

Travel companions KC & Jojo. Of course there is a bar on board, so whisky is mandatory to keep warm. Look at their hair - see how windy it is? And cold.
Several hours later, we arrive on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, which is home to the Callanish Standing Stones - one of the oldest and largest megalithic structures in Europe erected somewhere around 2000BC.We went to Stornoway, in search of some Harris Tweed, and there we found Ronnie Mackenzie's shop, which is pretty much the goldmine. Here's an old loom in the garden out front.The Harris Tweed orb.The shop is dark, dusty, and crammed full of every kind of tweed you can imagine.Dyed wool yarns used to make tweed.Bobbins with yarn - these are attached to the loom when the fabric is woven.Maps of the Outer Hebrides where Harris Tweed is made.

Here is Ronnie showing us all the different breeds of sheep used to make Harris Tweed.

Guide showing where the best wool comes from on a sheep skin.

Totally insane catalog from the 1930's containing swatches of various tweeds.
Every tweed ever produced is archived in books like this.

Ronnie is pretty much the coolest guy ever. He's got so much knowledge about tweed and is an all around character and awesome dude.
Newer books with samples of tweeds created for various designers.Harris Tweed hats, you've probably seen many an old man walking down the street in one of these.Rolls and rolls and rolls of fabric everywhere.More swatches of custom fabrics for customers.

Harris Tweed has produced many of Ralph Lauren's wools over the years.

Harris Tweed is protected by an act of Parliament - only tweed that has been woven in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland can be stamped with the Harris Tweed Orb of authentication once it's been inspected.
I picked up this amazing book, which details the production of Harris Tweed and contains stunning photos of island life and the manufacturing process.Ronnie gave me official Harris labels to sew into the garments I make, since they are officially Harris Tweed, of course.After a totally overwhelming several hours in the shop with Ronnie learning about all kinds of cool stuff, this is what I actually walked away with:Several meters (enough to make a jacket or coat) of each tweed. I really wanted to buy everything in the store, but let's be realistic. I will do a Part 3 eventually showing what I made with some of the tweed. This will not come for a long time, as I have to plan thoroughly before I cut into any of this precious fabric!Below are some collaborations I like between various fashion brands with Harris Tweed. Left to Right: Nigel Cabourn, Scott NYC, Topman.Beauty & Youth United Arrows from A Continuous Lean. Love that all-gray jacket with contrast pockets.Levis x Harris TweedA Bathing Ape x Harris Tweed
What am I going to make? I don't know! But I can't wait!


Scotland was really an epic trip for fabric research and buying. I'm going to split my photos into several parts - this one, another one specifically about the fabric itself, and then further down the road another about some of the things I've made with the tweeds I brought back.

Harris Tweed is really special in terms of production and quality. All of the wool used in the manufacturing of Harris Tweed must come from Scotland (primarily the Western Isles). Once the the sheep are shorn, the raw wool is brought to the Isle of Lewis and Harris, where it is spun into wool yarns. The finished yarns are distributed to individual weavers who bring them to their homes and weave them into the beautiful fabrics that make up Harris Tweed. This is a true example of cottage industry - there are only a hundred or so weavers, all of whom work in their homes on old-fashioned petal-powered weaving machines the same way they did 100 years ago. Once the fabric is finished, the weaver brings the yardage to be inspected by the Harris Tweed Authority, who will give the tweed the official stamp of approval once it's been inspected. Only fabrics woven in the Outer Hebrides isles of Scotland can be categorized as Harris Tweed. You can read more about Harris Tweed HERE if you're interested, or watch the BBC miniseries TWEED which I linked to in a previous post.

I've highlighted the Isle of Lewis and Harris on the below map in red. After a several hours long car drive north from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye and another few hours on a car ferry, we arrived on the island where we were able to see the landscape, animals, weaving sheds, and the tweed itself. I can't tell you how inspiring it was to watch the tweed making process from start to finish.
These photos are actually from Glen Coe on the mainland, but they give a great sense of the colors of the landscape that make up the tweeds. Tweeds are primarily made of vegetable-dyed yarns in tones of orange, red, green, and purple, which get their colors from the lichen, moss and grasses found throughout Scotland.
Just looking at the hills, can't you imagine them turned into a Ralph Lauren tweed?Here is a castle, just for good measure since they are all over Scotland! Castle Eilean Donan on the way to Isle of Skye.
Moss and grass all over the place. This is where the dye comes from!
Beautiful, happy, healthy animals everywhere.
Highland Cattle
Curly horned rams. Don't mess with them!
And here are the sheep! Their wool makes up the tweed after being shorn, processed, dyed, and woven.Since sheep are roaming everywhere, each one is marked with different colors of paint to distinguish one pack from the next when they get mixed up.Here I am in the pen with some shorn wool.The raw wool is taken to one of several facilities on the island where it's cleaned, dyed, and spun into yarns. In the below photo, you can see the bag of unspun dyed wool on the floor and the finished spun yarns on the machines.
The finished yarns are then delivered to a weaver, who generally has a shed or workspace at their home. Here we are peering into the window of a weaving shed - we were here on a Sunday and everyone was at church. The sabbath is taken very seriously on Lewis - no work on Sundays! That means no weaving.
Here is a loom where tweed is being woven with the yarns. I love to see peoples work spaces - the little boom box, tools on the wall, all the same things I have in my studio except a giant loom.Yardage of finished tweed and empty yarn spools.
And here is Harris Tweed! t was such an amazing experience to visit this place, I already want to go back.Next part I'll show all of the different fabric I looked at. Stay tuned.


This is the first episode in three of the amazing mini documentary on the BBC about the production of Harris Tweed in Scotland. Harris Tweed is one of the oldest and most respected manufactures of Scottish tweed and is produced only in the Outer Hebrides islands by handweavers who have worked the same way since the early 1800's. I became interested in Harris Tweed as a result of my fabric obsession and was lucky enough to visit the Isle of Lewis and Harris on my trip to Scotland. I'll share all the tweed I brought back when I get my photos together - in the meantime, this is really cool for anyone interested in production of wool tweeds the old-fashioned way.

Tweed Episode 1/3 Trouble Looms from Pssst on Vimeo.


This is one of my favorite shirts. It's a tank top with a print of tank tops on it (obviously). Margiela is so witty. Did I already post this?


Found this amazing print by James at Die Neue Modern:It made me think of one of my favorite shirts (MM6) - a wife beater with a print of wife beaters on it. Kind of genius, right? Margiela also has jeans with a jeans print.
How crazy would it be to make jeans with the neon jeans print? WOW! What do you say, James...collaboration?