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How “Tweed” was named by accident!

“Tweed” is one of Scotland’s greatest gifts to the world, with its richness of colour twists and yarn mixtures capturing the very essence of the Border landscape.

But the product we all recognise as “Tweed” has its origins in Commercial Road, Hawick, just a few metres away from where Lovat Mill stands today, with its worldwide reputation for woven excellence in design and quality.

But what you might be surprised to learn is that the term “Tweed” was coined quite accidentally in 1826 as the result of a misread label on a shipment of woven wool “Tweels”. This being the Scots dialect word for twill, from weaver William Watson & Sons of Commercial Road, Hawick, to a London cloth merchant. The word “Tweel” had perhaps not been written clearly on the label but to the merchant “Tweed” made complete sense as these fabrics were chiefly used in those days by gentlemen for shooting and fishing, with the nearby river Tweed being a fashionable destination for such pursuits.

With the misunderstanding then being perpetuated by the customer reordering another consignment of “Tweeds”, William Watson chose not to correct the mistake. Realising he had a fantastic name for his product, and recognising the branding opportunity, he promptly adopted the term as a description for his mill’s high quality sporting cloths. In modern times William Watson would have been well advised to register copyright on this new product, however 200 years ago there were few such considerations and use of the word soon spread all over Scotland and, ultimately, throughout the world.

Now generally recognised as “The Home of Tweed”, Lovat Mill is proud to be the torch bearer of William Watson’s legacy, continuing the manufacture of this unique product into the 21st century. Lovat Mill now stands just a few metres from where Watson’s mill once stood.

Lovat Mill currently exports around half of its product to “Tweed” connoisseurs the world over.

Weaving in Hawick began centuries ago as a cottage industry using wool from local sheep, the abundant supply of water from the River Teviot and, of course, the skills of artisan craftsmen and women. By the late 1800’s, as new dyestuffs and loom types evolved, weaving in Hawick developed into a thriving industry supplying wool cloths to many new international markets.

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