For many years Harris Tweed has been considered one of the finest fabrics in the world. Practical, stylish and loved by designers and trendsetters alike. For over a hundred years Harris Tweed has been an aspiration for all, from the Duke of Windsor, still considered an icon by mr.porter.com and in everybody’s most stylish list, to current designers like Vivienne Westwood famous for her use of the fabric.
For quite a long time, citizens of Scotland have woven a beautiful and sophisticated cloth the world intelligibly knows as Harris Tweed. The islanders of Harris, Lewis, and Uist & Barra produce this luxury cloth entirely by hand and have long been known for the perfection of their weaving.
1846, Lady Dunmore, widow of the landowner of Harris, chose to have their clan tartan cloned by Harris weavers in Tweed. As a result of Lady Dunmore’s hard work the cloth was soon established with merchants across the country.
Even after a century of change and challenge, Harris Tweed remains truly of its time, a cloth that rises above fad and fashion. With tweed gaining in popularity it soon became clear that steps would be taken to protect the name of Harris Tweed from imitations from elsewhere wanting cash. As skills are passed from one generation to the next our cherished cloth will always be made by our local professionals in one of the most reserved places of the world, forever meeting the needs of customers across the world who seek a sumptuousness fabric, endurance value, style and timeless quality.
The isle of Harris is located in the far north west of Scotland on the edge of Western Europe. While originally established as Harris, the same skilled methods of weaving of tweed were historically supervised throughout the neighbouring islands too. Harris Tweed is woven by the crofters of the islands, always by hand and in their own homes or often in a small weaving shed beside their homes. There is actually thousands of patterns, the possibilities are endless but there are over 4000 commonly used patterns and colour combinations.
There are two types of looms that are used 'The older single-width Hattersly loom' and 'The modern double-width bonus Griffiths loom' these are both powered by manual foot treadles. Every single metre of Harris Tweed is woven by hand. The loom mechanism is powered by foot and the hands tie, work and repair the cloth as it is being woven.
The Martindale Test (Rub Test) is commonly used in the UK and European countries. Generally the higher the result (Martin Dale Score) the more suitable the fabric for heavy use. The rub test results are used to check fabrics for their durability and suitability for various uses such as contract/domestic furniture. The normal end point of the test is when two threads are broken. Harris Tweed achieves to over 50,000 rubs and can last a lifetime.
Abitare is now one of the few truly independent furniture superstores in the UK. Over the years, the 30,000 square foot store has grown, not only in size but in the depth of ranges that the business carries.