We have all heard of the iconic Harris Tweed cloth, made in the Outer Hebrides using traditional methods that are centuries old, passed down through the generations.
But how many of us know the story of this special material – and how it’s used to create beautiful pieces of furniture?
At Barker and Stonehouse, we value British products and businesses and have worked with many suppliers and partners for decades, building long-lasting, firm relationships over time.
One such company is Tetrad, one of the UK’s finest upholstery businesses that’s been trading for 45 years – and is one of the rare firms with a mandate to craft furniture using Harris Tweed cloth.
Based in Lancashire, the team at Tetrad take extreme pride in their beautifully hand-crafted furniture, which has elevated them to an industry leading position.
The making of Harris Tweed:
The Harris Tweed story begins with pure virgin wools which are blended together to gain the advantages of their unique qualities and characteristics. Although most of the wool is grown principally on the Scottish mainland, in the early summer the island communities join together to round up and shear the local sheep which are dotted throughout the landscape.
Washing, dying, blending and carding:
The sheared wool is then washed and dyed in the factories of the main tweed producers, before being blended and carded. This process involves coloured and white wools being weighed in predetermined proportions, then thoroughly blended to exact recipes to obtain the perfect hue. It is then carded between mechanical, toothed rollers which tease and mix the fibres thoroughly before it is separated into a fragile, embryonic yarn.
The soft yarn is then spun to impart a twist to it, giving it maximum strength for weaving. This is wound onto bobbins to provide the ingredients of weft (left to right threads) and warp (vertical threads).
Warping and weaving:
This vitally important process sees thousands of warp threads gathered in long hanks in very specific order and wound onto large beams ready to be delivered, together with yarn for the weft, to the weavers.
All Harris Tweed is hand woven on a treadle loom at each weaver’s home. The weaver will arrange hundreds of needles to a specified pattern before the beam of warp yarn is tied into the loom by hand.
The weaver will then set up the weft threads, pulling bobbins of yarn through a series of guides to be woven into the warp threads by a flashing rapier. Once ready, the weaver begins to weave, always observing, correcting, mending and amending their creation until complete.
The tweed returns to the mill in its ‘greasy state’ and here it passes through the nimble hands of experienced and sharp-eyed darners who correct even the smallest of flaws. Once ready the cloth is finished. Dirt, oil and other impurities are removed by washing and beating in soda and soapy water before it is dried, steamed, pressed and cropped to a perfect, flawless condition.
The final process is the examination by the independent Harris Tweed Authority, before application of the famous “Orb trademark which is ironed on to the fabric as the ultimate seal of approval.
From cloth to furniture:
At Tetrad when the Harris Tweed cloth is received, it’s turned into sofas, chairs and stools, which are all made to a terrifically high standard.
Traditional hand built craftsmanship combines with the best materials and innovative techniques, to ensure a level of quality that is second to none.
The hardwood frames are built to last and coupled with a variety of suspension options before being covered in Harris Tweed fabric.
The team of designers at Tetrad work tirelessly to develop new designs and ranges which will suit all tastes and fit any home.
The frames are hand built using air dried beech to an exact specification, which are glued, screwed and dowelled to ensure optimal strength. A range of suspension systems across the various models includes fully coil sprung and serpentine sprung, enabling customers to choose one that suits their desired seat style and comfort. The final cover of fabric is then carefully cut and fitted by skilled upholsterers.
The finished furniture is a real masterpiece that can only be created due to the careful attention to detail and skill of the craftsmen, who are renowned in all aspects of furniture making.
Combining these skills with the best materials, ensures that each furniture piece is long lasting, sumptuously comfortable and elegant upholstered.
For more information and to view our full range of Tetrad Harris Tweed products visit our website: