There can’t be many of us, of whatever age, who haven’t worn an item of tweed at some time in our lives. It can’t be beaten for warmth, softness and the subtlety of natural colours. Growing up in the fifties, I saw it first in the form of a calf-length heathery purple and green skirt worn with no pretence of style or affectation by the games mistress on the hockey field (this was well before the days of tracksuits and lycra). Hardly a bespoke fashion item! Yet, as Fiona Anderson describes in her fascinating new book, Tweed, since the 1820s it has been associated with the British and Irish social elite and their romanticised view of rural life. Nowadays tweed from the Isle of Harris and County Donegal is highly prized, appearing not only in blankets and throws, but in fashionable male and female clothing and on items such as handbags and shoes by the top European designers.
Come along to Fiona’s talk at St Paul’s Church, Spittal, on Saturday 21 October, 2 pm to find out how her research into the design and cultural history of these textiles took her to the Outer Hebrides, Cumbria, the West of England, County Donegal, London and Paris. Fiona is a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh.