Although knitting – the construction of a textile whilst simultaneously making a garment or item from fibre – is ubiquitous worldwide, it has a distinctive place in Scotland’s landscape, economy, and culture. It has survived modernisation, mechanisation and transformations in global production and trade. Today, the production of knitted textiles makes a vital contribution to the Scottish economy, ranging from wool production to designer fashion. It incorporates sheep husbandry; spinning and dyeing; design and production of cloth and clothing; textile tourism; and retail. This project follows the production cycle from fleece to fashion, interrogating why and how knitting has adapted to and survived modernisation to become a distinctive heritage brand in the modern Scottish economy and culture.
The research focuses on three themes – creativity, sustainability, authenticity – to chart the relationships between skills, design, knowledge, and techniques. These factors underpin the survival and revival of knitting as a craft and industrial practice, and are the reasons why knitted textiles have become synonymous with Scottish heritage. The project has four workstreams – the economic, social, cultural, and environmental aspects of knitting in Scotland – in order to understand the historical relationship between creative practices, economic structures, and place. On the website, these themes and workstreams have been distilled into People, Places, and Things.
Sources and Collaboration
The project employs a range of research methods (archival, material culture, oral history, practice and community-led initiatives) and involves collaboration with partners in the business, heritage and creative sectors and the worldwide knitting community, with the objective of applying new historical knowledge of knit to contemporary craft and business. The findings will enhance popular understanding; business practice; conservation and heritage policy; education; training and skill transmission in the modern Scottish economy and culture.