Donegal Tweed Guide

Traditionally Donegal Tweed is handwoven in Co. Donegal and has been part of the counties heritage for centuries. Handweaving is a skill that has been passed down for many centuries in Donegal and many families worked together to hand spin and weave the cloth in their homes.

Often, the crofter’s wife made brews of moss and lichen to dip and dye the pure new wool from the sheep. Her husband would then weave this into cloth to be sold at the local tweed market.

The colours for the cloth was taken from the local landscape and people used things like yellow gorse, orange lichen, red fuchsia, purple blackberries and heather to give Donegal Tweed its distinctive flecks.

A manually operated wooden handloom would often be passed down through the generations and this is what would be used to weave the cloth for market. The loom is operated manually, and the weaving may be described as passing the horizontal threads (called the weft) through the warp by means of a shuttle. Thread by thread and row by row, the weft is eased into place. Hand-wound weft is gently fitted into large wooden shuttles. The complicated permutations of colour and design are co-ordinated and interpreted as the weaver proceeds.

Vertical threads in a piece of tweed are called "the warp". These threads are wound carefully on a cylinder and every thread must be separate and in sequence. It is the warper who takes the first step in arranging the various colours to form a foundation upon which the weaver will, with almost magical skill, produce the pattern. Everything is done by hand. It can take even the best of weavers up to half a day to draw 1000 threads through the reed to form the warp to the age-old pattern.

Nowadays a lot of Donegal is made on Power Looms but the demand for hand woven tweed is still great and this is what you get with our Triona Design Tweed – authentic handwoven tweed made in Donegal. While Tweed is available in many fabric and patterns, Donegal Tweed is best known for its Salt and Pepper Tweed which is also known as Barleycorn Tweed.