Our love for Harris Tweed goes back many years. In 1981 we had a particularly memorable visit to the Outer Hebrides when we were shipwrecked on St. Kilda. It was a harrowing experience, and when we were eventually rescued we spent some very happy days exploring the island of Harris and visiting the weavers along the Golden Road. They all wanted to hear about the shipwreck, and we were plied with tea and cake in every house as the islanders are famous for their hospitality.
In those days there were still a few weavers who spun and dyed their own wool in the time-honoured fashion, and we were lucky enough to meet them and buy some of their tweeds. The laborious process of scraping the grey-green lichen known as "crotal" off the rocks and boiling it in a cauldron with wool from their own sheep was still being done by some of the crofters. The result was a rich reddish brown yarn which never quite lost the distinctive smell of the crotal, a rather sharp scent reminiscent of the rocks and the sea. Greens and yellows were achieved by using local plants such as heather, ragwort and flag iris. We will never forget that first visit to the Golden Road, the smell of peat smoke in the air, the little loom sheds with the lobster creels outside, and the gentle lilting voices of the islanders. Of course we came away completely in love with Harris Tweed, our car laden with bolts of cloth.
More visits followed, in between filming and farming. As well as visiting our friends on Harris we went to the mills on Lewis and saw the amazing variety and depth of colour that could be achieved. By the end of the decade an idea had taken shape. We made it our mission to use this fine hand-woven cloth in new ways, combining innovative design with the best of British craftsmanship. In 1992 Glenalmond Tweed was launched with our own unique range of waterproof Harris Tweed bags and luggage. We exhibited them at an international trade fair in Paris, and the collection was an instant success, gaining us orders from all over the world.
We are happy to say that after all these years our enthusiasm for Harris Tweed and our commitment to British craftmanship remain undiminished.
We hope you will enjoy our collection and share our love of Harris Tweed.
Sally and Andrew St. John