Forget FIT, Central Saint Martins or Parsons, Heriot-Watt University’s School of Textiles and Design is really where it’s at! Nothing short of legendary, the department first opened in 1883 to teach the textile industry how it’s done. Since then they’ve only got bigger – and better – creating a fully comprehensive campus stacked full of everything a designer could ever dream of from the traditional to the technological. You may have caught myself and Honey Pop’s trip on our stories, but this is how we got our creative juices flowing doon’ Galashiels.
Tucked away in the quiet Scottish borders, Galashiels could perhaps go down as one of the most unsuspectingly creative towns in the world. Pretty much the textile centre of the universe, Galashiels is also home to some of the last remaining authentic wool production mills, creating pieces for everything from Prada to Pringle. One is even owned by Chanel! Who would have known it would only be a hop, skip and a short drive from Edinburgh’s Waverly Train Station before we would be right outside its door.
After the obligatory pictures, the tour kicked off with a look around the printing facilities. We couldn’t help dart straight across to the students who were all creating their own toile, which they would draw and then print onto fabric later. I was really fascinated by the world of print and could have spent the full day there alone! We were delighted when the print lecturers pulled out two screen prints of both of our logos to have a go with. Although a lot harder than it looks, it’s seriously made me think about a night course to take up as a hobby. From screen printing to digital printing, let’s just say it’s clear to see why Heriot Watt has been given the “best facilities in the UK’ crown!
After our dabble into printing, we then made our way to the knitting department. No, this wasn’t a gaggle of granny’s teaching to knit one purl one, this was full of industrial knitting at it’s finest! Don’t be fooled by the easy back and forth you can see in our demo in the video! The real challenge with industrial machines is in the setting up and the counting (and there’s a lot of that!)
After a wander round their FREE TO USE yarn department, we made our way to the loom room. Yes, a room full of looms. And not just any kind of loom, Heriot Watt’s SoTD has every kind of loom imaginable, from single to traditional flying shuttle. I really loved having a go of one and almost instantly found a rhythm. I can see why weaving is so therapeutic, but also fiddly (there’s no room for error) which also explains what goes into the hefty price tag that goes alongside woven tweeds and other fabrics.
Home to the largest knit and weave studios (and longest screen-print table in Europe, FYI) Heriot Watt’s School of Textile and Design is seriously somewhere you need to consider if you are looking to study fashion. With some of my personal favourite local designers such as Obscure Couture (RIP), William Chambers and Samantha McEwan (of Isolated Heroes fame) all graduating from Heriot-Watt SoTD, it is even more exciting to see who will be next to make their mark on the Scottish Fashion Industry (and in my wardrobe!!)
So whether you’re from Scotland or further afield, find a way to get yourself to Galashiels. With over 130 years of practice and some of the best facilities in the whole world, Heriot Watt’s School of Textiles and Design is definitely worth a shout. See you at the degree show, yes? Check out our full tour below.