Stitchers first to complete their Great Tapestry panel

Border Reivers and Smailholm Stitchers
Border Reivers and Smailholm Stitchers

Smailholm Stitchers are one of the first groups to complete their embroidery panel “The Border Reivers and Kinmont Willie 1596” which forms part of the unique Great Tapestry of Scotland project to stitch the entire history of Scotland.

The completed work will be one of the biggest community arts projects ever to take place in Scotland and will initially to be exhibited in the Scottish Parliament in autumn 2013 before finding a permanent home.

The group of 12 have been embroidering the ‘Reiver’ panel since receiving it in June 2012. It is one of two panels the group is stitching for the project. With a good mix of stitchers from the more experienced through to beginner embroiderers, it has been a great journey for the whole group.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is the brainchild of one of Scotland’s best-known writers, Alexander McCall Smith. The 44 Scotland Street author, together with historian Alistair Moffat, and the artistic talents of Andrew Crummy.

“We’ve been meeting regularly to chat about how to interpret the artist’s Andrew Crummy’s’ work and have kept the panel moving round the group each of us taking sections to work on in turn,” said Veronica Ross, co-ordinator of the group.

The creation of the tapestry is a unique and outstanding opportunity to tell our nation’s history and to involve as many people as possible in the telling. The aim is to create a series of over one hundred and forty panels that tell the key stories in Scottish history - everything from Duns Scotus to Dolly the sheep.

The Great Tapestry of Scotland is being created – like the Bayeux Tapestry – on embroidered cloth, rather than a woven tapestry. It is annotated variously in English, Gaelic, Latin and Scots, with surface stitching in a variety of yarns, creating a wonderfully rich and tactile artwork.

A wide range of stitches are being used including stem, split and chain, with filling stitches like long and short, satin and darning, an d composite stitches where appropriate.

A beautifully illustrated, commemorative book will be published by Birlinn Ltd, Scotland’s foremost independent book publisher, along with a guidebook to accompany the exhibitions.

The numbers behind the Great Tapestry of Scotland: 50,000 sewing hours; 49,000 meters of yarns (enough to lay up and down Ben Nevis 37 times!); 12,000 years of Scottish history; Over 1000 stitchers; Over 140 panels.