Last year we designed a tweed for an exhibition in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. The aim of the exhibition was to explore arts and crafts connected to hunting, shooting and fishing. In the past these activities were essential life skills, and crafts developed around them to provide the perfect tool for the job.
Today hunting, shooting or fishing in Scotland is not normally done for survival, but has mostly become a leisure activity. Still, a lot of the traditional tools are being used, and some of the crafts and skills are as relevant today as they were in the past.
For a long time tweed was the fabric of choice in the Scottish Highlands and Islands not only for hunting, shooting and fishing. Wool was available and could be processed at home by anyone with a spinning wheel and a loom. While the necessity to make your own fabric has gone now, natural fibres have come back into fashion. Wool is once again known about for its many great attributes – read more about it here: Campaign for Wool.
When we designed the tweed for the exhibition, we decided to weave a traditional herringbone fabric with a reference to the herring fishing around the shores of Scotland. Most of the herring fishing took place on the east coast, but Mallaig, Kyle and Portree were important fishing ports in the west. The yarn for our tweed was naturally dyed with Indigo by Tony and Eva of the Shilasdair Yarn Co. For us the herringbone in the two shades of blue represents a densely packed shoal of herring. The overcheck is a reference to the ring nets, which were often used for the herring fishing around here.