The Champagne of Fabrics

The blogosphere is abuzz this week about a great new video on the famous Harris tweed, "the champagne of fabrics." (Be sure to watch to the end. It's funny.) And here are fun facts for your post-video pondering. Tweed (from the French "toile," meaning cloth) is woven of rough wool, often in a twill pattern such as herringbone. Tweed originated in Scotland, and its name may derive from the Tweed River that runs through the Scottish Borders, once a textile center. Harris tweed began in 1846 when Lady Dunmore, widow of the Earl of Dunmore, had the Murray tartan copied in tweed by weavers on the Hebridean island of Harris. The good Lady began to market the tweed to her friends, and the industry was born. Although the native Hebridean (or "St. Kilda") sheep have been brought back from the brink of extinction in recent decades, Harris tweed is actually woven from the fleece of Harris island sheep, usually a crossbreed of Scottish Blackface and Cheviot.

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