Museums and Collections

There is a wide range of objects and historical records relating to knitting and the Scottish knitwear industry in museums and collections throughout Scotland.

The following list is not intended to be comprehensive but includes those which either hold a significant collection of knitted objects and records or have such items on permanent display.

The museums and collections have been listed geographically, from the north to the south.

Shetland Museum and Archives

Textiles, both knitted and woven, were a vital part of the local economy and the Textile Collection of Shetland Amenity Trust is recognised as a Nationally Significant Collection in Scotland. Many of the museum’s knitted garments and textiles are also featured on its online Photo Library.

Shetland Textile Museum

The Shetland Textile Museum is a community museum with a collection of more than 700 items. The museum’s collection focuses on the islands’ distinctive textile heritage – especially knitting – and has examples of both historical and contemporary production.

Unst Heritage Trust

The Unst Heritage Trust represents the cultural heritage of this island community. Knitted Shetland lace forms an important part of the Trust’s collections.

Scottish Fisheries Museum

The museum’s collection of Costume is recognised as a Nationally Significant Collection in Scotland and provides a valuable material insight into the lives of the local fishing community. It includes a significant number of Ganseys, which are also available to view via the Knitting the Herring project website.

Dunollie Museum and Castle

The museum’s Hope MacDougall Collection contains knitted textiles and knitting ephemera, which were recently researched by Dr Alison Mayne.

Gairloch Museum

This museum focuses on the history and culture of the local area and its collection includes socks and stockings knitted in the Gairloch pattern, which was developed during the mid-nineteenth century.

National Museum of Scotland

The museum holds a range of knitted textiles and garments within several of its departments, from Archaeology to Fashion. It also holds a significant collection of items relating to the design business of Bernat Klein, which includes a number of knitted garments and patterns designed by his wife, Margaret.

National Records of Scotland

These records include a wide range of documents relating to the production of yarn and knitwear in Scotland.

National Library of Scotland

The library holds a range of books and historical documents relating to the production of knitted garments and textiles in Scotland.

Glasgow Women’s Library

The library has a collection of twentieth century knitting patterns, several of which have been digitised and can be seen online.

Borders Textile Towerhouse

The Towerhouse traces the region’s knitwear and tweed manufacturing history through exhibitions and displays of garments, artefacts, film, and photographs.

Hawick Heritage Hub

The Borders has been home to a thriving textile industry for several centuries. Many of the surviving business records for local knitwear companies – both past and present – form part of the Hawick Heritage Hub collection.

Sanquhar Tolbooth Museum

This museum, which opens seasonally, focuses on local history and culture. Knitting was important to the area and the museum has a large collection of traditional Sanquhar knitted patterns, which also feature in the museum display.