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Published: 07 May 2022

By Andy Ross

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About tweed types

Tweed, as regular readers of the blog will know, was traditionally made in Scotland from sheep wool. 

As the importance of tweed grew for garments and fashion so the fabric has changed. These days tweeds need not be made in Scotland, nor do they need to be made from sheep wool. For the purists out there this is somewhat infuriating but given the struggle that the industry faces, for example, with the takeover of the word "fleece" for clothing that is actually made from plastic, it was probably inevitable that tweed has shared the same consequence of success. 

It was with surprise that we came across a tweed made on the West Coast. Perhaps it shouldn't have been. This part of the world has very strong links with Scotland; just down the road is a settlement that was created by Shetlanders and there are plenty of Scottish names dotted around the place. This cloth was made in a town called Hokitika by Westland Tweed. (According to the McLean and Co website, the Hattersley looms that made the tweed are still in use and have been relocated to Oamaru.) In 1871 one bale of tweed was sent from Westland, a district on the Coast, via the splendidly-named Wallaby, to Wanganui, as a newspaper of the time records. Westland Tweed was incorporated as a company in 1987 so there has been tweed production of some description for a long time in this part of the world. 

If anyone out there in blog-land has any more information about tweed production or sheep wool weaving on the Coast, please get in touch. It is fascinating to learn more about these links.