Crafts

  • Black House Renovation

    The 'Black House' is a style of house that used to be common in certain parts of Scotland, particularly in the Hebrides and parts of the Highlands (and also in Ireland). Their construction is characterised by double wall dry-stone walls packed with earth and wooden rafters covered with a thatch of turf with cereal straw or reed. Perhaps inevitably, most dwellings fell into disrepair as people moved into more modern housing. However, recent years has seen a trend towards restoration of many of the original h... Read More

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  • Fair Isle Knitting Patterns

    Fair Isle is a traditional knitting technique used to create patterns with multiple colours. Traditional Fair Isle patterns are limited to five or so colours, using only two colours per row, are worked in the round, and limit the length of a run of any particular colour.... Read More

  • Fishermen's Ganseys

    Fishermen have been wearing ganseys (Guernseys) since about the start of the 17th Century - the design is said to have been developed in the Isle of Guernsey, just the same way that the term jersey originated from the neighbouring Channel Island of Jersey. Ganseys were knitted in un-oiled, soft, round, dark-blue 4 ply wool on four size 14 needles to make a firm, close fabric that was almost wind and waterproof. They were one-piece garments. A split had to be made at the underarm, the back and the front t... Read More

  • Gairloch Pattern Stockings

    This knitted pattern, which was unique to Gairloch, developed in the middle of the 19th century. At the time of the potato famine in the 1840s strenuous eorts were made by the lairds of Gairloch to provide work for the inhabitants. To provide an income for the women, knitting was encouraged using wool from local eeces, home spun and dyed with local plants taking advantage of the skills which many already possessed. To instruct them to a higher standard Lady Mackenzie of Gairloch employed an expert in knit... Read More

  • Ganseys

    The navy blue wool Gansey sweater, along with navy blue trousers was the traditional ‘uniform’ of fisherman in the Cockenzie and Port Seton villages of East Lothian and in many other fishing communities around Britain. There are variations in pattern – families often handing down their own pattern through the generations, mother to daughter - but many featuring traditional motifs such as rope. Wives incorporated in each sweater an element unique to each so that they could identify bodies washed ashore... Read More

  • Harris Tweed Na h-Eileanan Siar

    Harris Tweed is cloth that has been handwoven by the islanders of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra using only pure virgin wool that has been dyed and spun in the Outer Hebrides.The Harris Tweed Act of 1993 specifies this defintion of the tweed. which ensures that all cloth certified with the Harris Tweed Orb symbol complies with this definition and is genuine Harris Tweed, the world’s only commercially produced handwoven tweed. ... Read More

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  • Knitting Groups

    Knitting groups have seen something of a revival in the last few years. They have been around for a long time, previously being known as "knitting bees" and would often have met in the home of one of the group members. These days knitting groups meet in all kinds of venues from museums to bars to cafes to people's houses. The purpose of the group is for members to learn knitting techniques from other members, to show patterns, to show new yarn and items in progress, adn of course to socialise. Knitters come... Read More

  • Mehndi (Hindi: मेहँदी, Urdu: مہندی)

    ‘Mehndi (Hindi: मेहँदी, Urdu: مہندی) is the application of henna as a temporary form of skin decoration in India and Pakistan’[see source below]and by women from Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities living in Scotland. Traditionally used for brides, it is still applied for weddings and also for other special occasions (mainly on the palms of the hands but also to the feet). It is a temporary decoration which sits on the surface of the skin, not a tattoo. After application by... Read More

  • Scottish Blackface Carpets and Meat

    The Scottish Blackface Sheep is one Scottish animal that rarely gets the recognition it deserves. Although it is commonly bred on the British Isles, it’s origins are traced back to the Anglo-Scottish border, and it can also be found around the Glasgow area. The wool produced from the Blackface is in a league of its own. It has been used for decades to create quality carpets and clothing that feel fine and comfortable. It is also used for meat across Scotland, including haggis. The Blackface ... Read More

  • Shetland Knitting

    The Shetland Island council has for years (decades) promoted and taught traditional knitting of the Fair Isle to the primary school(24) pupils of Shetland. This activity has recently become fragile due to the Shetland Island Council deciding to cut the the budget that allows for 14 knitting teacher to pass on the traditional skills and patterns. Knitting has been a main part of the arts and crafts economy of Shetland dating back to the introduction of sheep on the island in the 9th century by Norse settlers... Read More

  • St Ayles Skiff

    The 'St Ayles Skiffs' is a design commissioned by the Museum from renowned boat designer Ian Oughtred and are made from a plywood kit. It was inspired by the traditional Fair Isle Skiff. These reasonably priced kits can be purchased from Jordan Boats, partners in the project, with the Museum earning a royalty from each kit sold. Each skiff requires a team of four rowers and one coxswain to complete a full crew with each rower taking one oar. The 'Chris o' Kanaird' was the prototype boat built by Jordan B... Read More

  • The Shetland Yoal

    The Yoal, often referred to as the Ness Yoal, is a small sailing craft (clinker built) used traditionally in the Shetland Islands. It is designed primarily for rowing, but which also handles well under her traditional square sail when running before the wind or on a broad reach. Until about 1860 yoals were imported from Norway, from Hordaland, the area around Bergen, in kit form, and local boat builders followed to Shetland to put them together, but increasing customs duty meant that local builders took ... Read More

  • Tradfest

    Each year Edinburgh is home to Tradfest TradFest celebrates Scotland’s May festivals – Beltane and Mayday – which traditionally mark the beginning of summer, bringing energy and colour to the capital city as the greening of the year breaks out. Venues include Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, The Pleasance, the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Filmhouse, Queens Hall, Summerhall, George Square Theatre and Dance Base. The TradFest Trail highlights craft shops, galleries, pub sessions, instrument makers, book... Read More

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