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50,000 Hours of Stitching

A visit to the Great Tapestry of Scotland


Now that the pandemic has eased up, I've been able to get back into my routine of regular visits to the UK to see family and friends.

Although I adore life in California, the thing I love about Britain is the astonishing depth of history wherever you go. There is always something old and beautiful to see in any town one passes through.




On this trip we visited a dear friend in the Borders region of Scotland. In the town of Galashiels is a newly opened gallery showing The Great Tapestry of Scotland, a recent project that took 1,000 stitchers 50,000 hours to make.

Like the famous Bayeux Tapestry, this piece is technically not a tapestry but rather an embroidered work.

The project was the idea of author Alexander McCall Smith (Best know for his series 'The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency') The artist behind the design concept of each panel was Andrew Crummy, while historian Alistair Moffat created the timeline of Scotland from pre-history to present day.

160 linen panels measuring about 40" square or 20" x 40" were embroidered with wool thread. Dorie Wilkie coordinated the 1,000 volunteer stitchers. The tapestry was completed in 2013.

Read more fascinating facts and figures about the tapestry here.


I was most drawn to the panels that referenced textile manufacturing. Here are a few of my favorites:


Women singing as they 'full' woven wool to get the oils out. As they sing, they beat the fabric on the wooden table top to the rhythm of their song.



Spinning, weaving and local plants.



Tweed suits became popular in the 1830s, often made from Borders Tweed.



Traditional Scottish Fair Isle knitting.


If you ever visit Scotland I encourage you to take a trip to Galashiels - less than an hour's train ride south of Edinburgh - and check out The Great Tapestry of Scotland.

It's truly memorable.


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