Last Saturday was the highly anticipated Harris Tweed Festival, a celebration of all things Harris Tweed! The day began with the Harris Tweed Bike Ride which brought riders of all ages decked out in their finest tweed outfits hoping to be in with a chance of winning the coveted ‘Geansaidh Buidhe’ knitted by Island Stitches and reminiscent of another important yellow jersey… Participants cycled the town stopping off at local businesses for refreshments and some ceilidh music.
The first pit-stop was at Charles MacLeod’s Butcher for a quick breakfast of black pudding before they headed off again, this time stopping at Harris Tweed Hebrides for some sweet treats and a spot of delicious Harris Gin! On the second lap the riders had a break at the lovely By Rosie for some tweed moustaches and bow-ties and then finished off back at An Lanntair for well deserved tea and scones and the awarding of the Geasaidh Buidhe to the best dressed cyclist. It was a great event and a fantastic opening to a day of Harris Tweed festivities.
It was an action packed day with something for everyone to get involved in with guest speakers, music, films and workshops on all day.
The speakers throughout the day gave a sense of the story of Harris Tweed from its very beginnings to the worldwide status it has now and also gave us a look forward into the future at the possibilities and plans for the Harris Tweed industry. Every speaker gave their own unique insight into the journey Harris Tweed has taken from a cloth woven for warmth and protection against harsh cold to a luxury cloth in worldwide demand.
The fashion show at the end of the day was perhaps the most obvious look into the future of Harris Tweed. The event showcased the work of designers and makers working in the islands today and gave pupils from the Nicolson Institute the chance to strut their stuff on the catwalk after a week of practising their walking and choreography. The incredibly talented designers had created beautiful pieces of clothing from tweed that not only showed their skill and craftsmanship but also gave a clear sense that with such a talented committed force behind it, the Harris Tweed industry is only set to get stronger.