Hand-knitted textiles and the economies of craft in Scotland


This project investigates the place and significance of hand-knitted textiles to Scotland’s economy and culture, past, present, and
 future. We seek to use hand knitting Campaign for wool ‌‌as a case study of the role of craft in linking individual creativity to economic pursuits; local design traditions to national heritage; and domestic economies to the creative economy of Scotland. The workshops will bring together an interdisciplinary network of scholars, practitioners, curators and heritage professionals, and economic and cultural policy professionals in order to assess the needs and opportunities for research on hand knitting. Together this network will examine: the history of hand knitting in Scotland as a cultural and economic practice; the current contribution of hand knitting in local and national contexts; and the ways in which Scotland’s rich heritage of hand-knitted textiles can contribute to other national industries, such as tourism and fashion.

Contacts: Marina Moskowitz or Lynn Abrams  

This project is sponsored by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Workshop 1

‎Economies and Cultures of Wool 

Friday 27 April 2012

Our first workshop focuses on the raw material: wool. Underpinning both the historical and the contemporary practice of hand knitting, the production of fine wool and worsted in Scotland has an important heritage of its own. This seminar will explore some of the following questions: What is the history, present state, and future of wool and worsted production (from sheep husbandry to spinning and dying) in Scotland? Does this heritage add value to contemporary Scottish wool production and how is it used in branding? How was the production of yarn fostered a tradition of hand knitting in Scotland? How is wool production embedded in the Scottish landscape and how has this connection fostered design? What might be the benefits of ‘textile tourism’?Workshop 1 participants
Speakers include: Oliver Henry, Jamieson and Smith, Shetland wool brokers; Dr. John Holland, upland ecologist, Scottish Agricultural College; Kate Foster, Borders' artist 'Sheepscapes':


10:00 Registration open (tea and coffee available)
10:30 Introduction to Workshop: Lynn Abrams and Marina Moskowitz - Lynn Abrams' introduction
10:45 Presentation by John Holland, Scottish Agricultural College - John Holland's presentation (pdf)
11:15 Presentation by Oliver Henry, Jamieson and Smith - Oliver Henry's presentation
11:45 Presentation by Kate Foster, environmental artist, Glasgow Sculpture Studios, Glasgow University (Geographical and Earth Sciences, honorary research associate), working in the Scottish Borders - please take a look at the categories sheep-walks, lamb, wool, singularity in inthepresenttense.net
12:25 Introduction of workshop participants
12:45 Lunch (provided)
1:45 Presentation by Natalie Fergie, The Yarn Yard
2:15 Presentation by Aynsley Gough, New Lanark Trust - Aynsley Gough's presentation
2:45 Break-out group discussions
3:30 Group discussion feedback and summary of workshop
3:45-4:15 Afternoon tea and workshop close

Workshop 1 - summary

Workshop 1 participantsWorkshop 1 participantsWorkshop 1 participantsDi Gilpin, Oliver Henry and Kate FosterLynn Abrams and Aynsley Gough

Workshop 2

Economies and Cultures of Knitting

Friday 1 June 2012

ProgrammeScotland has a long history of celebrating its distinctive knitwear, but the economic and cultural circumstances in which hand knitting has occurred have changed radically over the history of the nation. This seminar will examine the evolution of hand knitting from labour, often undertaken by women in a domestic context, to leisure activity and creative craft, asking the following questions: what is the economic and cultural history of Scottish hand knitting? How does this heritage influence community identities and local cultures today? What is the economic future for hand knitting – as luxury brand, domestic necessity or artwork?
Speakers include:
 •Speakers from the Moray Firth Gansey Project); 
 •Sarah Laurenson (Jamieson and Smith, Shetland wool brokers); 
 •Roslyn Chapman (historian of lace knitting).

10  Registration (Tea and Coffee provided)
10:30 Welcome/Introduction: Lynn Abrams - Lynn Abrams' presentation




Knitting in Scotland: Past and Present:

  • Roslyn Chapman, University of Glasgow
  • Sarah Laurenson, Jamieson and Smith, Shetland
  • Edith Rattray, The Gansey Project
  • 12:30
12.30 Lunch (provided)




Knitting in Scotland: Present and Future

  • Di Gilpin, The Gansey Project/Di Gilpin Designs
  • Rosemary Eribé, Eribé Knitwear Design
  • Questions and Discussion - Rosy Eribe's presentation
2:45 Workshop summary: Marina Moskowitz
3:00 Afternoon Tea (provided) and Workshop Close

Workshop 2 summary


Workshop 3

Economies and Cultures of Design

Friday 19 October 2012

9:30 Registration (Coffee available)
10:00 Introduction to Workshop 




Inspiration from the Northern Isles:
  • Carol Christiansen, Shetland Museum and Archives
  • Q&A




Community Knitting: Design and Art:
  • Roxane Permar, Artist
  • Trevor Pitt, Artist, POD Projects
  • Q&A
12:45 Lunch




Careers in Knitwear Design:
  • Sarah Dearlove, School of Textiles, Heriot-Watt
  • Karina Westermann, Knitwear Designer and Consultant
  • Q&A
3:00  Workshop close (Afternoon tea available)

Public Study Day

Thursday 18 October 2012, 2.30-6.30pm
The Gallery at The Lighthouse, Glasgow

Public Study Day: Reinventing Scotland’s Woollen Traditions


3.00pm Kate Davies, Knitwear designer, Edinburgh. Kate will be speaking about (and showing/modelling ) some of the designs in her new collection 'Shetland colours'.
3.30pm Roxane Permar, Shetland: the Mirrie Dancers Project: Roxane has coordinated Shetland lace knitters to produce an art installation for the new Shetland arts centre.
4.00pm University of Glasgow Textile Conservation Centre: the Principles of conserving knitted objects
4.30pm Carol Christiansen, Knitted Textiles from Shetland Museum: Construction methods in Shetland plain and Fair Isle handknits illustrated with photographs and artefacts
5.00pm Nyree Finlay and the Material Culture Collective: 'Knitting as a site....': A collective presentation based on a project at the University of Glasgow focusing on knitting as a site of action, of skill, as self, as relations and as memory.
5.30pm Fiona Scott, Glasgow School of Art: 'The Value of Craft and Making'
  Also attending: Trevor Pitt, Podprojects: 'The Salon Bench Project'; Zoe Armstrong, Fibre Forager as well as stalls and exhibits

Please note: this is an informal event: visitors are invited to drop in at anytime.

Bring your own knitting, share patterns, contribute to some community knitting, buy some wool or just come along and  see what's going on in the world of knit. 

study day flyer pdf