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Textiles in Scotland - weaving, dyeing, spinning and designing

Textile crafts have a rich history. From weaving by early humans, the production of ancient cloths, the trade of fabrics along the silk road, the use of tapestries as status symbols, to the culturally significant Scottish tartans, the evocative past of textile crafts show how diverse the discipline is.

Mention Scottish textiles and many people immediately think of tartan and kilts, Harris Tweed, and Fair Isle knits. While these are vibrant and creative parts of the Scottish craft industry, there is more to Scottish texiles than our most famous exports.

Our textile makers transform wonderful handmade and hand dyed fabric into clothes, accessories, hats, jewellery, furnishings, decorative hangings, and toys.

They weave on traditional looms, make handspun fleece, knit and crochet, work wool into felt, layer different fabrics together with embroidery; they dye, print, plait, knot, pleat, and twist, and recycle vintage lace and tweed.

The textile art of weaving involves interlacing two sets of threads or yarns: the warp (lengthways threads) and the weft (widthways threads). The warp threads are held tightly in place on a loom or in frames, allowing the weave to be threaded through and formed into the chosen design.

While the industrial revolution changed the textiles industry through the invention of mechanical weaving, the ancient craft of hand weaving continues to be practiced today.

The famous Scottish tartans used in Kilts are made of coloured threads, woven as both the warp and weft at right angles to each other. Find out more about tartan.

In Tapestry, the weft threads hide the warp completely. Portions of the cloth are used as pattern areas rather than taking the weave from one edge of the warp to the other, allowing for pictures and designs to form.

Craft Scotland represents more than 400 craft makers working in Textile crafts, from weavers and designers to felt makers and knitters – and of course many makers who work with Scottish tartan, tweed, and wool.

You can search for Scottish textile makers on the Craft Scotland website and browse our database of talented makers.

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