Holiday Roundup – A (mostly) Textile Journey through the UK

July 31, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions, Weaving | Leave a comment

I’m back from two and a half weeks in the UK, and I have to admit, I could do with a holiday now. 😉 But I had an absolutely fabulous time over there and managed to see a lot of things and then some. In this post I’ll give an overview on what I saw where, but there’ll be further posts on some of the places I want to talk about in detail later. I started off in Inverness where I was delighted to find two craft and needlework shops in the Victorian Market, both having a really great choice in counted cross-stitch and similar embroidery packs. I was good and only bought a small greeting card with a celtic cross motif to go as a holiday project. It’s almost finished, so I’ll show it off then.



After that I had a fabulous week of walking in the Highlands. The weather wasn’t always great, but the wildlife is great and the landscape as well. Fiber content consisted mostly of the ubiquitous sheep. On our day off we visited the small Heritage Museum in Gairloch, which proved to be an unexpected source of textile exhibits. The museum has different displays of the day-to-day life of the people in the area of days past. Spinning, weaving, dying and knitting were a normal part of life, so one of the displays showed the equipment needed together with typical products. I especially liked a little board showing small skeins of yarn dyed with natural colours. On display in the school room is a folder showing a schoolgirl’s exercises in darning, which must have been a very important craft before we started to throw away textiles as soon as they are broken somewhere.



My next stop after leaving the Highlands was Edinburgh. I was really impressed by the city, landscape, architecture, and all that. Fiberwise, I wasn’t too successfull. The obvious industry to show off would be weaving. There’s a tartan-weaving tourist trap next to the castle, where I managed to find the few exhibition areas in between all the merchandise, and then those started talking as soon as I went near them! I really prefer museum exhibit only to talk to me if and when I want to, since I’m usually much faster when reading the information instead of listening to it. I was Sunday, so the actual weaving workshop wasn’t in operation, which might have been slightly more interesting, so I tried to find the exit as fast as possible. A bit of rain in the afternoon steered me in a better direction, though. The Royal Museum of Scotland is currently closed due to major work being done, so I amused myself in the neighboring National Museum of Scotland. There’s a small exhibit on the textile trades on level 3, tied in with the industrial revolution. Spinning and Weaving machines are shown in close connection with the steam engines that were used to power them. A few pieces of knitting, embroidery, dying and lacemaking are shown as well.

Before leaving Scotland and heading south, here are a few links for future reference:

Much more interesting stuff to come, but I’ll leave that for the next post.


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