Weaving Process

Weaving Process

Selecting the yarn

After deciding on the design, travel to the mill to select the yarn from the yarn store.

Selecting the yarn

Once the yarn is collected and back at the shed, the yarn is organized into the correct order for warping. The yarn is loaded onto the wooden creel to start the warping process.


Using a sectional warper the yarn is loaded onto the warping machine. The warp is loaded in sections and will take several hours to warp up 1416 threads at 24 threads at a time.

Beaming up the yarn

The yarn is removed from the sectional waping machine and wound onto the beam. Once complete the beam is transported to the loom shed.

Tie in the new beam

If the weave of the new tweed is different to the previous tweed a draft change needs to be done; This involves changing the order that the warp threads pass through the heddles on the boards.
The new beam is loaded onto the loom and each of the 1416 threads are tied into the warp threads of the previous tweed.

Weaving the tweed

The easy part..Pedaling the loom while combining and changing the colors of the weft threads creating wonderful designs.

Taking the tweed off the loom

The completed tweed is cut from the loom, tied up and taken to the darning table.

Darning and inspection

Thicker threads, knots and broken yarns are all replaced. Once the length of the tweed has been inspected it is tied up with the selvedge waste to be transported to the mill for finishing.


The tweed is transported to the mill for finishing. There the tweed is measured, washed, dried, cropped, raised, pressed before being stamped with the iconic Orb mark by the Harris Tweed Authority.


Once ready for collection, another trip across the moor is needed. A lovely sight to see the colors of the completed tweed looking so sharp.

Inspecting and measuring

Back at the house, the tweed is given a pattern number, the length measured and input into a spreadsheet.

Loom information

The Griffith Rapier Loom
This loom was designed and Developed at Griffith Textile Machines, the Griffith Rapier Loom is the world’s only Rapier Hand Loom that I Know of. As the Griffith Loom is pedal driven, it is carbon neutral and very quiet. It is designed so it can be used in many different industries but the majority of Looms are used for weaving the Famous Harris Tweed Fabric. The Bonas Griffith Harris Tweed Loom ( as it used to be known ) is now the work-horse of the Harris Tweed industry , being used by the majority of the 190 weavers currently working in the Outer Hebrides.

The Hattersley domestic loom

The plain Hattersley Domestic Loom was specially developed for cottage or home use and designed to replace the wooden handloom; the Domestic is similar in construction to a power loom. It was introduced ca.1900 and the makers claimed that a speed of 160 picks per minute could be easily attained with from 2 to 8 shafts weaving a variety of fabrics. Because foot pedals, or treadles, operate the loom it is still classed as a handloom, but it is much easier and faster to weave as all the motions of the loom are connected via crankshaft and gear wheels.

The Hattersley Domestic Loom was manufactured by George Hattersley & Sons Ltd of Keighley – established in 1789 – the firm made every type of loom and a vast range of associated textile equipment until 1981.

Not much is known about the history of the Domestic Loom. Initially it has been said that they were developed markets overseas in the British Empire. But it was the Harris Tweed Industry which adopted the Hattersley Domestic Loom in the greatest numbers.

Basically, the loom combines all the know-how of 19th century loom engineering into a small, compact format which is simply poetry in motion. 

The first thirty Hattersley’s were sent to the Outer Hebrides in 1919. These were 36 inches in the reed space and single shuttle. In 1924 the first six shuttle, 40 inch reed space looms arrived in Stornoway and this type of loom was the most commonly used loom in the islands and is still in use today.

People talk about the Hattersley Loom, but to be correct the loom was just one part of the Hattersley Domestic Weaving System – consisting of a loom, pirn winder and warping mill. Indeed over the years there were a number of developments, although the basic underlying concept stayed the same.

Each loom was assembled at the Hattersley works in Keighley before being packed in order to ensure that all the parts worked properly. Then before dismantling, various parts of the loom were numbered and marked with paint in order to make it easier to assemble later. The loom was then placed in a crate – which on arrival at its destination was then unpacked and assembled with only reference to a simple guide.

The basic Mark I loom is treadle operated and the amount of effort to start the machine from rest and to keep it in motion varies from loom to loom, dependent on how well it has been erected and tuned. Basically, no two looms feel the same to weave on – they all have distinct personalities – and this is where their charm comes from.

Generally the looms have tappets to control up to 8 shafts, healds or boards. Most looms simply have 4 shafts and a set of four 2/2 Twill tappets and four plain weave tappets. BUT, if you look in the spare parts catalogue you will find a huge range of 5, 6, 7, and 8 pick tappets in the most wonderful shapes. In order to cope with the different gearing the tappet drive cog on the bottom drive shaft can be adjusted AND there are two sixes of tapped mounting drive cogs.

There was also a Dobby Loom developed which was never very popular. Some take the view that it was hard to pedal. BUT the more likely explanation is that in the Harris Tweed industry most of the tweeds are woven using standard lifts and so the flexibility of the Debby simply is not required.

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