BBC show to follow a girl’s dream of making her own Harris tweed
But childhood dreams and Harris tweed are not something people often associate together.
Known for its versatility in combating the Scottish elements, for one girl, Harris tweed is so much more.
A children’s programme, Clò Beag Chirsty Bella, which is set to air on BBC Alba on Christmas Eve, tells the story of a Scalpay girl who dreams of making her own Harris tweed to honour the heritage of the design and the islands.
The programme also details the incredible lengths she will go to to ensure her vision becomes reality.
The 15-minute film, which was a hit at a recent European Broadcasting Union screening in Geneva, Switzerland, tells the story of Chirsty Bella’s journey to hand craft her first piece of Harris tweed. The broadcast offers a fresh take on the indigenous craft industry of Harris Tweed
Living in Scalpay, Harris, a little island in the Western Isles, nine-year-old Chirsty keeps herself busy by doing little jobs like selling eggs from the family croft and learning Scottish Highland dance.
However, everything changes when Chirsty takes her first steps towards learning to weave Harris tweed and explores her passion for this local tradition – as well as the stumbling blocks along the way to crafting her own design.
After realising she is neither heavy enough nor tall enough to work the leg-powered Hattersley loom, the film shows how Chirsty uses her saved-up egg money to execute a plan B and buys her own little loom.
The programme then tracks her quest to honour her heritage and weave her way into history with her own Harris tweed using the old ways of crafting that have become synonymous with the world famous Harris tweed.
Stopping at nothing to achieve her dream, the show chronicles Chirsty weaving in time to present her own humble pink and turquoise cloth to her mother, and to pay homage to those who have gone before her and cementing her connection to the island.
With the practice falling out of favour, as the loom sheds retire across these islands, the programme captures a few honest hours of labour lights an exciting new chapter in Chirsty’s colourful journey.
The story culminates in her hanging her proud pink and turquoise fabric on the wall of the family kitchen, signed in the corner of the frame with her heartfelt words: “With love from Chirsty Bella.”
On Harris tweed and the legacy on the islands, Chirsty says: "This is handmade and definetly not fast fashion
“Years ago there were many weavers, but not today, the loom lights are fading but a star or two is glowing still."
“The old ways have passed and the machines have taken over but the weaver must still handweave the fabric
“Like threads Harris tweed still brings people together.”
For hundreds of years, the Western Isles has been home to those dedicated to of the coveted fabric that has seen Harris Tweed become one of Scotland’s biggest fashion success stories.
Clò Beag Chirsty Bella airs on BBC ALBA on Saturday 24 December at 5.40pm and will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer.
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