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Clan Drummond


Tartan Weaving

There were several main stages in weaving tartan:
gathering the wool, preparing the fibres by combing it to the desired texture for soft or hard tartan, and spinning by a method involving a drop spindle, or distaff and spindle, in which the yarn or thread was spun by the fingers and wound round the bottom of the spindle. This was later replaced by the spinning wheel, and ultimately by modern machinery. The wool was then dyed, woven and finally stretched. This last stage, known as waulking, was often accompanied by singing, during which jokes would be made about friends, frequently in impromptu
verses; a tradition that continued into modern times in the Harris tweed industry.

Looms were normally upright, operated by one person, with the warp, the threads running tIle length of the cloth, fixed along a frame with spaces in between, and weighted at the base. The lateral threads, the weft, were then woven in across the warp. Much faster
horizontal looms with foot pedals came into use in the eighteenth century, when the manufacture of tartan
became a cottage industry. Production later moved to the mills, with the advent of the Industrial Revolution, where water and later steam—power turned the mill
wheels, until eventually tartan manufacture evolved
into the highly technical procedtire of today.

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