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Published: 23 March 2019

By Andy Ross

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What's on the loom?

Alvin, the studio loom, is being busy...

Shetland tweed shares a common characteristic with other tweeds: the use of twills; diagonal lines in the fabric's structure. Although it is not necessary for a twill structure to be present for a tweed to be called "tweed", (for example, plain weave or basketweave are also used in many of these cloths) it is the case more often than not. In fact, the word "tweed" probably came from the Scots word "tweeled" meaning "to have a twill structure". In the studio, twills are often the basis for our cloths and so this week we have been creating a simple twill with the natural coloured yarns that come from Shetland sheep. 

It is immensely satisfying to make this cloth. The simplicity of the colours, and the mathematical structure, mean that any mistakes can easily be seen. Patience is the key, weaving slowly and taking out errors if they occur. What a lovely way to spend a day or two, don't you think? Just one person and a loom creating cloths that would have been recognisable to people in Shetland 2000 years ago. That timelessness is such a marvellous link, and one that we are proud to be part of.