My pictures are created from needle felted Harris Tweed collages and I've been collecting Harris Tweed and yarns to use in my work for about 10 years now.
Harris Tweed - I have been up to visit Harris and Lewis and I can strongly recommend a visit to the Harris Tweed Warehouse at Tarbet on Harris. The warehouse is 5 minutes from the where the ferry lands and I bought £400 worth of tweed within half an hour of being on the island!
You can also by Harris Tweed online readily enough online, either in small pieces or by the metre. I buy my tweed by the metre as I use so much of it. Also as it's hand woven, if I really like a particular pattern or colour, I make sure I buy a few metres as it may never be woven again. I tend to buy my tweeds from www.harristweedisleofharris.co.uk and www.harristweedhebrides.com I also buy direct from weavers and I share the posts of a couple of weavers on my facebook page when they have new tweed to sell via facebook.
Wool Yarns - All the details in my pictures are added in wool yarn and all the rough edges on each individual piece of tweed are also edged in wool yarn. Everything is needle felted into place by hand with no stitching.
I have built up a fair old stash of different coloured yarns and I am pretty fussy about what I use. My all time favourite yarn is called "Iro" made by Noro. This is a fabulous, really chunky, multi-coloured wool and silk yarn, which has very sadly been discontinued. I also use a fair bit of various weight Debbie Bliss Tweed Aran wool yarns.
The colours I really struggle to get are very pale greys, which I use quite a lot to edge clouds and waves on the sea. I need something that is very chunky and not too white, as a strong white is too bright and doesn't look very natural when I get my pictures scanned for creating prints and cards. I did have some very nice extra chunky Debbie Bliss yarn, but I've nearly run out now.
So I decided to get my friend Jennie Howes of Sky Blue Pink Designs to hand spin some yarn to my exact requirements and it is just perfect for the job. I bought some light grey Suffolk and some light grey Shetland fleece at Woolfest and Jennie has spun some lovely chunky yarn for me. The Shetland is a slightly warmer colour than the Suffolk, which is great because the cooler Suffolk recedes slightly when I use both yarns together. Unfortunately you can't really see this effect from my photo above, but I am well chuffed with the results.
I would strongly recommend commissioning your own yarn, if you just can't get exactly what you want commercially. Or I suppose you could learn to spin yourself. Unfortunately I just can't get the hang of it and I'd rather leave it to a professional like Jennie.
Both Jennie and I will be at Yarndale at Skipton in a few weeks. So if you're there please come and have a chat. We'll be on stand 164 near the Littondale Entrance cafe and Jennie will be on stand 152 near the Lairage cafe.
I am a Northumberland based textile artist and I create needle felted paintings with Harris Tweed and wool yarns.