Scotland has a rich and distinct heritage of woven woollen cloth.
Classic cheviots, rustic homespun-style tweeds, robust Estate tweeds, as well as the finest woollen cloths remain a staple of the Scottish textile industry. Local and imported wool fibre are used, each with distinctive characters. Each has a place in providing warmth, protection, style and comfort, both in the past and as part of a continuing and sustainable future.
The production and manufacture of woven cloth in Scotland has an equally divergent history.
Weaving woollen cloth has been an essential and integral part of life in Scotland for centuries. At the start of the 17th century almost all production of woollen cloth in Scotland was for domestic use and was handwoven. By the 18th century British inventions and engineering flourished and the resulting impact on textile manufacturing was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution. While pockets of mechanized production developed in the Highlands and north east of Scotland, thousands flocked to the newly established mass production mills in the lowlands.
Claiming to be the oldest firm of loom makers in the world, Geo Hattersley and Sons developed the Hattersley Domestic loom in parallel with a whole range of sophisticated specialist textile machinery. Originally developed for export to the colonies in the late 19th Century, the Hattersley Domestic is a compact, semi-automated foot-treadle loom. While developments in textile manufacturing grew apace with the advances in water, steam and coal power, the Hattersley Domestic ensured pockets of production remained in remote rural settings where individuals and communities could continue to produce commercial cloth and remain on the land.
My heritage is the landscape and rich culture of Scotland. Inspiration for my cloth can come from natural, industrial, urban and contemporary environments. I follow a well trodden path that continues to draw connections between the diverse Scottish landscape and the cloth that I make.
There is much that we overlook within the weave,
hidden in lost patterns,
like how a place stays with us when we leave,
till long after we have parted,
we can see faint glimmerings in the path
around our feet, some thrift or bird’s foot trefoil,
a blue bell tinkling in long grass,
sea-rocket soaring out of sandy soil.
And too in my ideal stretch and length of tweed,
there would be reminders of steps made
across machair by the long stride of my feet,
a mingling of colours, shades
of iris, primrose, gentian, centaury,
a kaleidescope of orchids so rare
that’s naturalists might think such flowers could never be
stitched or sewn from memory to allow others to share.
Woven In The Bone from Weaving Songs by Donald S Murray