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Article: "The Curiously Compelling Story of Tweed"

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I wrote this post, my first for Gentleman’s Gazette, in collaboration with Raphael Schneider, who runs the site.  I am quite confident you'll come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of tweed after you read it.

 

http://www.gentlemansgazette.com/tweed-guide-harris-history-styles-patterns/

 

The post is hefty and is chock full of text, photos, links, and videos conceived to provide you with a comprehensive education on tweed and how to wear it in a classic way.


In this article learn about:

- The origin of tweed
- The history of tweed
- Types of tweed
- Tweed patterns
- How tweed is made
- A rundown on a recent crisis in Harris Tweed
- How to wear tweed
- Where to find tweed

 

Here is an excerpt from the article below:

 

"The Origin of Tweed

It is commonly thought that tweed emerged in Scotland and Ireland as a way for the farmers there to battle the chilly, damp climate that characterizes those parts. Tweed began as a hand woven fabric.  The cloth was rough, thick, and felted and the colors were muted and earthy.  It was truly a working man’s cloth. As far as the name goes, there are a couple of theories.

 

  1. There is a River Tweed in Scotland and the cloth was made in the Tweed Valley, and some believe that is the origin of the word.
  2. A more popular legend has it that the name tweed is a twist on the Scottish word for “tweel” or twill in our parlance, which is the signature weave of the fabric.  It is said that in 1826, a London clerk accidentally transcribed an order to “tweel” and wrote “tweed” instead, and from there the name came into use.

 

Whatever the origin, tweed is a rugged fabric, resistant to wind and water with excellent insulating properties.

 

 

(Photo from Bookster)

How to Wear Tweed?

Because tweed is inherently a cool weather fabric it goes well with autumn, cold-weather golfing, the opening of bird season, fall run trout, and crisp winter days. On the other hand, tweed is not ideally suited for classic white collar business outfits or more formal evening events.

 

A good rule of thumb for tweed is to wear it in any cool weather situation where a sport coat or casual suit is appropriate.  Weekends are great for tweed. Keep in mind too, that a new tweed jacket or suit will require some break-in time.  There are reports of people throwing their traditional tweed jackets against a wall to soften it up.  I don’t know if that’s actually done, but once a tweed jacket is broken in–wow–what a comfortably wearing garment."

 

(Photo from Bookster)

 
Enjoy!

 

Joe


Edited by Magnanimist - 9/4/13 at 9:56pm
post #2 of 13
Interesting and informative article. An interesting little historical fact is that during the Boer War, the gallant Boers, despite fighting a desperate struggle against the British, overwhelmingly clothed themselves in tweed!

As an aside, I had a jacket made of early post-Haggas Harris tweed from Porter & Harding back in 2008. The cloth was very loosely woven and began fraying and pilling almost immediately and looks like hell now. It is strictly a "beater" jacket these days but useful for walking the dog on cool evenings and mornings. I don't know whether current P&H Harris tweeds have improved. I hope so.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for taking the time to read the piece..glad you enjoyed it.

 

I didn't know that the Boers wore tweed...an ironic situation for sure.  If you don't mind I'll add this to the article.

 

...w/regard to Harris Tweed quality, I can't attest to whether it has improved or not. The quality coming out of the smaller mills is said to be good.  That said, I'd be interested to know myself.

 

For my part, I go with tweeds developed through the London Lounge which are mostly produced at the Lovat Mill in Scotland.


Edited by Magnanimist - 9/2/13 at 5:09pm
post #4 of 13
^With regard to that business about the Boers wearing tweed, I am sure I got the reference from Thomas Pakenham's The Boer War. I first read it around the time it was published, back in 1979, and re-read it only about four years ago. I remember the reference to tweed very vividly, but I could not find the exact reference, despite spending over an hour skimming through the book. It is a very long book, over 700 pages. I did see several references to Boers wearing tweed as well as several photographs of Boers in tweed. In any event, this is a matter of general public knowledge, so you hardly need my consent if you wish to add this information to your essay.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

I appreciate you taking the time to look for a reference.  I am impressed with anyone who reads a 700-page book on the Boer War not once, but twice.  :>)

 

I have included the story in the article.  Thanks again for sharing it.

 

Best,

 

Joe

post #6 of 13
Excellent article. Very informative. Thanks for expending the effort to educate us and sharing it!
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for taking the time to read it Willin.  I look forward to doing more of them at time goes on. 

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel View Post

^With regard to that business about the Boers wearing tweed, I am sure I got the reference from Thomas Pakenham's The Boer War. I first read it around the time it was published, back in 1979, and re-read it only about four years ago. I remember the reference to tweed very vividly, but I could not find the exact reference, despite spending over an hour skimming through the book. It is a very long book, over 700 pages. I did see several references to Boers wearing tweed as well as several photographs of Boers in tweed. In any event, this is a matter of general public knowledge, so you hardly need my consent if you wish to add this information to your essay.

 

I wonder if the tweed they wore was imported from Britain, or whether the Boers in fact had their own tweed weaving operation? It's quite possible as they had been out there for hundreds of years and were necessarily quite self-reliant, and I believe they kept sheep (and still do). It would be interesting to know.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isbister View Post

I wonder if the tweed they wore was imported from Britain, or whether the Boers in fact had their own tweed weaving operation? It's quite possible as they had been out there for hundreds of years and were necessarily quite self-reliant, and I believe they kept sheep (and still do). It would be interesting to know.

As I recall, and I am 99% sure I'm right, the tweed was authentic British imported tweed that was smuggled to them, probably through Portuguese East Africa. Or, they might have gotten it via the Boers in the Cape.
post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel View Post

As an aside, I had a jacket made of early post-Haggas Harris tweed from Porter & Harding back in 2008. The cloth was very loosely woven and began fraying and pilling almost immediately and looks like hell now. It is strictly a "beater" jacket these days but useful for walking the dog on cool evenings and mornings. I don't know whether current P&H Harris tweeds have improved. I hope so.

I have a jacket length of Harris Tweed from P&H that I received earlier ths year. I was surprised that it seemed to have at least twice the volume of the Hartwist that I had previously ordered (which is 18oz). It is, as you describe, very loosely woven compared to any other Harris I have seen. the length is still in the unfunded stage and likley won't get to the tailor until next summer but I'm curious to see how it turns out.
post #11 of 13
As I understand it, at least in the "Second Boer War," burghers wore their everyday clothes, which consisted of tweed and three piece suits. There were no uniforms issued, with the exception of police and artillery.
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

As I understand it, at least in the "Second Boer War," burghers wore their everyday clothes, which consisted of tweed and three piece suits. There were no uniforms issued, with the exception of police and artillery.

That's pretty much correct, except I believe there might have been a few other uniformed units. I was reading about how in one battle the Boer commander was wearing a frock coat and a top hat!
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bertie View Post

I have a jacket length of Harris Tweed from P&H that I received earlier ths year. I was surprised that it seemed to have at least twice the volume of the Hartwist that I had previously ordered (which is 18oz). It is, as you describe, very loosely woven compared to any other Harris I have seen. the length is still in the unfunded stage and likley won't get to the tailor until next summer but I'm curious to see how it turns out.

I also have a jacket from Hartwist--I much prefer it to my Harris tweed jacket. I hope you've gotten a better Harris tweed cloth than what was used for my jacket, but the loose weave sounds ominous.
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