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16 October 2014

Arnish Lighthouse

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Weaving loom in action

Visited the Gearrannan Blackhouse Village on Friday, and found the Hattersley loom in action. This piece of kit is used to weave Harris Tweed. Better look sharp about watching it out there or on here, as the industry appears to be in terminal decline.

Watch the video from this link.
Posted on Arnish Lighthouse at 19:03


There's a lady weaving on one every day at Plocripol in Harris with the wool hanging out to dry on her wire fence

calumannabel from ness

I suppose the loom in Gearranan will be moving and clacking and weaving for some time yet, as it is part of the beautiful museum there and not depending on some mill-owner's strange ideas of promoting the tweed by cutting production.

The Lederhosen from between Lewis and Austria

Viewing the U-Tube on the subject of warping and weaving , where among others , three weavers are shown weaving the traditional single-width handloom, in the making of Handwoven Harris Tweed highlights the contrast in the methods of manufacture currently being used in the making of the tweed purported to be handwoven Harris Tweed ! The U-Tube video demonstrates the art of true craftmanship where the warping of the tweeds shown during weaving is done in true traditional hand-crafted fashion and not on high-speed computer controlled Warping and Beaming machines which cost each in excess of £ 50,000 and which cannot by any stretch of the imagination have anything in common with a handcrafted industry such as was the Harris Tweed industry ! At one \point in time those in ' the know' accepted the fact that as high a ratio as 83% of all Harris Tweed woven was woven using the quarter horse-power electric motor to drive the looms which were controlled by sophisticate means and which were even fitted with a variable speed drive which was useful when changing the shuttles on the Hattersley Hand-looms ! With such a complete lack of integrity and gross " misrepresentation" of the product being practised is it any wonder that the Harris Tweed industry is in the state to which it has fallen ? Imagine what would happen to any purchaser of reasonable bulk destined for the American market when the Federal Trade Commission discovered the tweed was not as declared produced in accordance in line with the original Regulations of the "Orb " Certification Trade Mark as granted by the British Board of Trade , amended in 1934 . The famous Court Case in the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 1963-64 was at the time the longest and most costly civil legal case but it produced irrefutable evidence and a Judgement by Lord Hunter which clarified all the Regulations which were necessary to adhere to, and laid down in letters of stone what would require to be done before any of the recent "short-comings" could be accepted with the authenticity unimpaired ! Yet the Scottish Enterprise Minister Mr Jim Mather MSP has just completed a visit to the island with meetings held with weavers and all concerned , and a statement to the effect that " it has been shown to be the case that the Harris Tweed industry as it is presently comprised has a bright future and will receive the full support of the Scottish Government " ! The matter is about to be raised in the Scottish Parliament for a Petition to be considered in reference to this whole travesty ! As one person in a senior posirtion in the industry remarked :- " something truly unique has been allowed to die " !, and the matter reported with irrefutable evidence to the governing bodies concerned for a full investigation to take place without delay.

st kilda 16.10.30 from The Outer Hebrides

With reference to St Kilda 16.10.30's lengthy explanation, I have a handful of points in reply. Number 1, it is generally recognised that many weavers use a small motor to help with the weaving. That isn't so much an infraction of the Orb trademark, but the huge machines he refers to earlier on in his comment are. However, it is less the alleged infringement of the trademark that has destroyed the industry than the apparent greed of some of the previous industry leaders, who saw fit to have their eyes on their own pockets rather than the greater good of the industry as a whole. Competition is all fine and dandy, but it has served to reduce Harris Tweed to a minor commodity, to be snapped up by the likes of Mr Haggas of Keighley, suitable for making men's jackets with just 5 different patterns. Harris Tweed was a unique island industry, which is practically on its knees, and no amount of yarning [sic] in parliament will undo that. Many islanders who were into weaving for Harris Tweed have disposed of their looms, engine- or handpowered, after they got into serious financial trouble over purchasing double-width looms some years ago. They never saw a return. In closing, all I can say is that the Harris Tweed in the year 2008 is typified by the smashed loom outside a ruined barn in the village of Dalmore.

Arnish Lighthouse from Stornoway

The very point I was making about possibly the most serious aspect in regard to Harris Tweed is drawn immediately to the attention of the reader in the third sentence of the response by Arnish Lighthouse to my comment; In his Point No. 1 of the response he freely admits that " it is generally recognised that many weavers use a small motor to help with the weaving " ! He then goes on to say that such an act on the part of the weaver is not so much of an infraction of the Orb Trade Mark as is the " huge machines referred to in the earlier comments ". This ,of course , is the reference to the computer-controlled , high-speed POWER-Warping and beaming machines which are the same as those in use in any other part of the textile world and to which Lord Hunter in his famous favourable Judgement 31st December 1964 referred to as producing " fake" or " spurious" tweed when used in the tweed industry of the Outer Hebrides , which had been purported to have been " Handwoven Harris Tweed" .Arnish Lighthouse then goes on to use the word " alleged " in connection with the infringement of the trademark despite the fact that in his opening sentence he openly admits that "many weavers use a small motor to help with the weaving " and attributes ( also quite properly) the infringement of the trade mark to the use in the industry of the " huge" Power-motivated Warping and Beaming machines which have replaced up to 50 warpers , the existence of which for the last century at least has produced the necessary warps by " hand" . The emphasis of this " hand-crafted" method of production in warping may be appreciated by reference to Page 10 of the Harris Tweed Handbook produced and issued as a Promotion aid by the Harris Tweed Association Ltd( Harris Tweed Authority) free of charge and indeed , the " pocket-stuffers " which are to be found in each garment tailored from Harris Tweed may be perused in the retail stores in Stornoway itself this very minute . The " pocket-stuffers" spell out pictorially the four main processes in the making of genuine Handwoven Harris Tweed, three of which cover processing ,hand- Warping and hand-weaving. The weaver demonstrating the subject-matter of hand-weaving on his own loom is actually the former Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Authority who was at one time a weaver himself..The " mode of operation"of warping depicted in the " Pocket-stuffer" is that of hand- stake-warping , as traditionally was always the case , and that in itself is evidence of " misrepresentation" , since the current warping is carried out on Power-warping and Beaming machines and NOT by 'hand as is inferred by reference to the promotion "Pocket-suffer currently issued bu the Harris Tweed Authority"' The fact that Arnish Lighthouse considers the use by weavers of electric motors to drive the looms to be a perfectly acceptable thing to do appears to be quite the norm among the weavers today but therein lies the grave danger of the complete 'melt-down' of the Harris Tweed industry and all that it has meant to the island economy. The Regulations governing the "Orb" Certification Trade Mark cannot be amended without due process of the necessary requirements as outlined by Lord Hunter in his Judgement 31st December 1964 , before any such change may be implemented and to avoid any deceit of the purchasing public .These Regulations in turn are a composite part of the Harris Tweed Act 1993 which makes clear that the Act is but a Restatement of the Regulations approved by the Board of Trade at the time of the Amendment to the Trade mark in 1934 . Already the Canadian Customs Authorities have investigated what they termed to be a case of " fraud" against the K M Group in regard to 'misdescription ' of tweed purported to be genuine Handwoven Harris Tweed , which had been woven full-width on the new Bonas Griffith rapier loom and thereafter cut up the middle by a scissor-like device on the loom .to create two " single-width" pieces of tweed and thereafter entering in the customs documentation a " false declaraton" ; in Canada , the preferential

st kilda 16.10.30 from outer hebrides

The following is the balance of the immediately preceding text , being part of my response to the Arnish Lighthouse , omitted probably due to a tachnical hitch ! in Canada , the preferential rate of zero duty afforded to genuine Handwoven Harris Tweed is granted only when the fabric has been woven by hand on a loom not greater in width than 76 cms In the United States the peferential duty rate is applicable only when the tweed is HAND- woven on a loom width not greater than 30 inches and furthermore , the actual definition of Harris Tweed issued in the United States in January 1977 by the Harris Tweed Associtaion Ltd includes the word " single-width" and which definition has never since been withdrawn While giving evidence before Lord Hunter in the Court of Session, the late Callum John Macdonald, self-styled Chief Executive of the Harris Tweed Association Ltd , stated that " he would refuse to ' stamp' any tweed placed beore him as the inspector if it had been warped and beamed by means of POWER . This fact was well noted and commented upon by Lord Hunter at the time . I must take issue with Arnish Lighthouse when he claims that the destruction of the Harris Tweed industry " was due less to the infringement of the Trade-mark than that of the apparent greed.of some of the previous industry leaders who saw fit to have their eyes on their own pockets rather than the greater good of the industry as a whole" .The Harris Tweed industry owes its existence to the entrepreneurs who had the foresight to realise the marketing possibilities of the unique tweed fabric which was made by almost every family in the Western Isles and who later., together with other interested parties , had the perspicacity to propose that a Trade Organisation and a Trade Mark be applied for to the Board of Trade in London . Thus , after much debate and posturing , was born the Harris Tweed Association Ltd.. When the tweed was well established in national and international markets , a former mill-owner in the name of James Macdonald from South Lochs who had featured prominently in the debate at the time of the call for the Amendment to the Trade Mark in 1934 ( and in whose suggested Definition of Harris Tweed was very deliberately included the all-important word " hand-warped " ), commisioned a woollen mill in Oban set up in opposition to the Harris Tweed industry by erecting in the Uists large weaving sheds in which to house Hattersley hand-looms and employ weavers whom he caused to be trained and weave for a pre-determined weekly wage . The yarn for these tweeds was dyed, carded, spun and warped ( on Power-operated Warping and Beaming Machines) and sent by steamer from Oban to Lochboisdale for distribution to the weavers in the sheds at Eochar , whence the woven tweeds were returned to Oban for finishing processes to be carried out. This woven tweed was then proferred as "Harris Tweed" and sold at greatly discounted prices which resuilted in severe competition for the genuine Island Harris Tweed industry.. So much so that the decision was taken to raise a Court action on the grounds of " Passing-off" . This had to be raised in the English Courts because the Harris Tweed Association Ltd was a company registered in England and which had its Head Office in London following on the successful application for the " Orb" Certification Trade Mark. in 1963-64 . In the event, the Court action was heard before Lord Hunter in the Court of Session in Edinburgh because , by this time the " Shield Group" mainland manufacturers had become the Pursuers and the Harris Tweed industry were the Defendents .The initiative was taken by the industry leaders to take this very serious ' all or nothing' step in the interests of ALL involved in the industry and the companies subscribing to the Court action bore the cost of the Court expenses in what turned out at the time to be the longest and most costlly civil action in Scottish legal history. !.Had they not done so there would most certainly not be a Harris Tweed industry in the Western Isles today ! The o

st kilda 16.10.30 from outer hebrides

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