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Published: 02 February 2019

By Andy Ross

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Tweed research

The research into Shetland tweed has gathered pace.

Research like this is rather like being a sleuth. Gathering together data to build up The Big Picture is always fun, especially if history is an interest. This particular topic though is proving to be much more interesting than I thought because so much information is hidden in plain view. Tantalising hints of "Shetland tweed" scattered throughout the literature show that people knew what this particular fabric was and that it was so well-known an explanation of its qualities was simply not needed. And that leads to a conundrum. How do you define "Shetland tweed" if there are no historic references to its qualities? What actually is Shetland tweed and why is it different to other kinds of tweed?

For this research, part of the Masters of Research programme at Glasgow School of Art, I am attempting to link Shetland's traditions of weaving with contemporary practice. That means, if I can do that adequately, we will know more about what Shetland tweed was and is, and how to use those traditions to create fabrics which are recognisably "Shetland". As always, if you have any information, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, please do send an email. Every little bit of data, sample or information adds to the picture of what constitutes Shetland tweed, its practices, its past and its uses, and will help to secure the future for our tweed industry in the isles.