Harris Tweed is a cloth unique to the Hebrides and it is woven by about 130 or so individuals scattered across the islands and usually working in a "loom shed" near to their house. The village of Shawbost has a long tradition of weaving and a close connection with this genuine cottage industry. Should the visitor to Dollag's Cottage take a little walk through the village it is likely they will not have to go far before they hear the steady rhythm of a loom working away in one of the nearby loom sheds. The looms are operated by "peddle power" and the weaver sits as if on a bicycle on the double width loom, ever watchful for a broken thread or some other malfunction in the workings of the complex machine. There are two local tweed mills and tours can be arranged so that the visitor can see each step in the process from wool off the back of a local sheep to a finished tweed as it comes out of the mill ready to be made into clothing of the finest quality.
The tweed industry is very cyclical and so has good years, when the weavers are all working flat out, and also bad years when the demand for the tweed is very limited. At the present time Harris Tweed has become very much in demand by the fashion industry not only in the UK but also in China and Russia and so many weavers are working flat out to meet the demands and fill orders from across the world.
Should you be interested in Harris Tweed then be sure to tell Dollanna as it is likely that she will be able to arrange for you to visit a working weaver and to see the whole process for yourself.