Named for the River Tweed on the Scottish border, tweed is a sturdy, woven material, usually wool, that holds up well in suits, jackets, trousers and outerwear. Clothing made from tweed typically lasts for years. Tweed comes in a variety of woven patterns, like herringbone or window pane, in different colours or colour combinations. Some tweed is traditional homespun, or a plain weave with just flecks of coloured yarn.
Known for its warmth and durability, Donegal tweed is produced in County Donegal, Ireland. The tweed is hand-woven in simple patterns, or no pattern, with distinctive specks of colour woven throughout. Weave patterns take their names from nature, for example, barleycorn and herringbone. The wool for Donegal tweed comes from local sheep. Weavers use dye made from natural materials like moss, berries and flowers.
Harris Tweed is known for its subtle, earth colours and the high quality of craftsmanship that goes into its weaving. Popular for sports coats and suits, the hand-woven fabric is coloured with natural dyes. By an Act of Parliament in 1993, genuine Harris Tweed must be entirely produced in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. Those islands include Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra, where weavers have been making tweed since the 19th century.
Linton tweed dates to the early 1900s, when William Linton started a textile mill in Carlisle, England. In 1969, the Linton Company modernised its techniques and began creating machine-woven tweeds from a blend of silk and wool. Because Linton tweed is softer and lighter than other tweeds, it quickly became a favourite of many couture design houses. Coco Chanel’s famous tweed suits are made with Linton tweed. Other notable clients include Burberry and Max Mara.
Bernat Klein studied textile technology at Leeds University before starting his own small wool mill in 1952 in Galashiels, Scotland. His educational background led him to experiment with different ways to produce fabric. Klein developed machine-woven tweed that was very light, and could be made from a variety of materials. These new tweeds, in textiles like mohair and velvet, had vibrant textures and hues. Bernat Klein tweed is a popular fabric choice for clothing designers and manufacturers.
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