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Harris v. Donegal tweed?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I know this is a bit pedestrian, but what exactly is the difference (aside from geography), if there really is any?

Anyone?

Thanks,
John
post #2 of 12
These are both home loomed / woven fabrics. The weavers in different parts of the islands seem to prefer to make different patterned fabrics. Both are generally heavy weight woolens. I don't believe that there is any general "quality" difference asscoiated with one or the other. Either one can generate some beautiful fabrics - and some that you might consider as duds.

There is a difference in the garment making which is not particularly dependent on which fabric is chosen. A jacket or suit made by XXXX maker may be very much higher quality than one made by YYYY. These garment makers may also have had some input into the design of the fabric pattern.
post #3 of 12
Respecting your recognition of the geographic differences, it might be worth mentioning for other readers that Harris Tweed is created in the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland from local (Scottish) wool. http://www.harristweed.org/ It is a carefully controlled production situation.

Donegal Tweed is supposedly created in County Donegal in Ireland. I am not aware whether or not there is an Irish counterpart to Scotland’s Harris Tweed Authority. It seems to me that Donegal Tweed is relatively abundant in its availability. That availability begs the question (for me) of the wool's origin if not the location of the looms.

Mr. Carl Evans of the Harris Tweed Authority might respond in a knowledgeable fashion to the subject of the technical differences. I expect he might extol the merits of Harris Tweed in his remarks.

It seems to me that Harris Tweed is by its very nature much more of a genuine cottage industry. Nevertheless, high quality tweeds of any verifiable provenance are a wonderful luxury addition to anyone’s wardrobe. I have both tweeds and find no appreciable difference in the garments beyond the tailor’s skill.
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post #4 of 12
IMMSMC, it was said that Harris Tweed was generally of a pedestrian nature while Donegal was rather better quality. Additionally, I seem to recall that the Donegal Tweed production was more of a true cottage craft industry, Harris Tweed just being better controlled (I have no idea if this translates into any sort of quality distinction between the two, however). The sticking point was that the Donegal tweeding process was less automated, while Harris Tweed is fully automated except for the loom pedal, and so is barely 'hand made' (or some synonym thereof). Perhaps someone can back up my claims... anyone? Manton?
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hartmann
IMMSMC, it was said that Harris Tweed was generally of a pedestrian nature while Donegal was rather better quality. Additionally, I seem to recall that the Donegal Tweed production was more of a true cottage craft industry, Harris Tweed just being better controlled (I have no idea if this translates into any sort of quality distinction between the two, however). The sticking point was that the Donegal tweeding process was less automated, while Harris Tweed is fully automated except for the loom pedal, and so is barely 'hand made' (or some synonym thereof). Perhaps someone can back up my claims... anyone? Manton?

After my prior post in this thread, I went to the closet to look at my tweeds. The odd jackets are both Harris and Donegal. However, the only tweed suit is a Donegal.

Both my Harris Tweeds and Donegal Tweeds are certainly beautiful. Without exception, my Harris Tweeds are much coarser than my Donegal Tweeds upon close examination. I don't know if that is true in general. That may simply be a quirk of my past buying habits.

As for the various degrees of automation involved in production, I am woefully undereducated. Your recollections may certainly be more accurate than my suppositions.
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post #6 of 12
As noted Harris tweed is a trademark, and generally coarser and heavier than Donegal and Shetland tweeds (by no means light nor fragile). Donegal tweeds were originally made in Ireland, but the term has evolved to embody a certain weave characterised by coloured flecks (if done well, really beautiful).
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoopee
As noted Harris tweed is a trademark, and generally coarser and heavier than Donegal and Shetland tweeds (by no means light nor fragile). Donegal tweeds were originally made in Ireland, but the term has evolved to embody a certain weave characterised by coloured flecks (if done well, really beautiful).

Thanks, whoopee. A little more light now shines upon the misterbowles Tweed Mystery! Oh, wait. "Mystery Writers" was a recent thread on AAAC, wasn't it?
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post #8 of 12
Another note, shetland tweed is the softest of the three, and Holland and Sherry has some pictures of all three on their website, along with winter-weight wool jacketings (non tweed) with the famed Donegal weave. The bunch is called Carnival.
post #9 of 12
I think Whoopee has hit on another difference between the two. I don't have garments in either, but my impression all along has been that Harris tweed just looks different from Donegal tweed, the latter, as Whoopee notes, characterized by a spotted appearance arising from different colored threads--often light in color. A lot of Harris tweed I've seen has been of a herringbone pattern, with perhaps more structure than normally seen in Donegal tweed. However, I could be all wrong about this--just my impressions.
post #10 of 12
Harris tweed is most famously in herringbones, but can be plain weaves, too. In fact, today I wore a "Harris Tweed" coat with a purple donegal weave.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by whoopee
Another note, shetland tweed is the softest of the three, and Holland and Sherry has some pictures of all three on their website, along with winter-weight wool jacketings (non tweed) with the famed Donegal weave. The bunch is called Carnival.
Those "Carnival" Donegals from HS are woven in Italy, and they are MUCH softer than a true Scottish Shetland.
post #12 of 12
Yes, as it is not tweed. Some of the bunch is lambswool/silk, while the rest is 100% lambswool.
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