I’m often asked for suggestions of places to visit which might be of interest to travelling weavers, so this is a wee list you may find useful. There are three categories:
Please note, however, that although Scotland is a small country, it is not as small as all that. I am based about half-way up the east coast: my knowledge is mainly local to this area, and my choices and interests are personal ones.
Important: I do not have the capacity to maintain this list more than once or twice a year, so I cannot guarantee that all the links will be up-to-date. If you have any specific questions about planning your visit, then the individual venues or the good people at VisitScotland will be able to help you.
Some museums and galleries with a textile connection
Click the museum name to open their website in a new tab.
National Museum of Scotland (Edinburgh)
Well, of course. Especially worth visiting are the Art, Design and Fashion galleries and the Scottish History galleries. Includes looms. In 2022-23 there is an exhibition celebrating the textile designer Bernat Klein.
Dovecot Studios (Edinburgh)
Exhibitions and workshops, with a textile or craft focus, and you may be able to watch the tapestry weavers from the viewing balcony.
V&A Dundee (Dundee)
Verdant Works (Dundee)
Dundee was famous for its jute weaving mills, and for being Scotland’s She Town: the women worked in the factories and the men minded the bairns. This museum tells the story.
Stanley Mills (just north of Perth)
While we’re talking mills, this one has more of a focus on the engineering than the yarn, but it is fascinating nonetheless. It’s especially good if you like interactive models and water play – at least it was before the pandemic.
Scottish Crannog Centre (Kenmore)
Warp-weighted loom, anyone? Seriously, who doesn’t love iron age crafts? After a devastating fire in 2022, the Trust are rebuilding at a new site so head over there and support them.
New Lanark (New Lanark)
Not just a mill, but a whole village planned and built to support it. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. How many of those have their own yarn shop?
Weaver’s Cottage (Kilbarchan)
A small but perfectly formed ‘living history’ museum, where they weave tartan on a 200-year-old loom and maintain a traditional dye garden.
Textile and craft events
To find contemporary makers there are several sources you can follow. I recommend signing up to one or two newsletters for a few months before you travel so that you can get the latest updates.
Open Studios happen in different parts of Scotland at different times of year, but many of them maintain a directory all year round. A search for “open studios [insert name of area you are visiting]” is a good starting strategy. Local to me are the Perthshire Open Studios, North-East Open Studios and North Fife Open Studios. Forth Valley is not that far away either.
Courses and workshops
Sadly, a number of venues have closed for good as a result of the pandemic, and others are not yet back to full strength.
Some which are up and running at the time of writing are Central Scotland School of Craft in Dunblane, Coorie Creative in Stirling, Off the Rails Arthouse in Fife and the Studio Pavilion in Glasgow (also featuring Bernat Klein in 2023). Of these, only Coorie Creative specialises in weaving and fibre crafts, but you’ll find interesting classes at all of them.
Gartmore House (between Stirling and Loch Lomond) offers residential courses in a whole variety of arts and crafts, including braiding and tapestry weaving.
I don’t want to list individual makers here, but you can find many who offer workshops and classes in their own studios through the maker directories listed above. Please note that I am not currently running workshops in my studio and do not have the capacity to offer one-to-one tuition.
Another good source of information is the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers. They maintain a map of Guilds with their contact details, and the Journal includes adverts from course providers.