‘Hand-Made Archives’ at School of Scottish Studies Archives


Monday 18 February 09:45-16:00

Our event focuses on the traditional hand-craft of making “cleekit gloves”. 

Photo of cleekit gloves

You may be asking, what on earth are cleekit gloves? That was the very question I asked when I found a collection of letters at The School of Scottish Studies Archives (SSSA), last year. 

The collection consists of 15 letters (ref. Subject box DII: Costume) and are from members of the Scottish Women’s Rural Institute (SWRI) to the editor of Scottish Home and Country Magazine. They are in response to an article, from January 1959, seeking information on this craft. 

Scottish Home and Country was the official magazine for the SWRI and as well as connecting members and events, it used to focus on crafts, patterns, recipes and local areas of Scotland. 

We were unsure as to why our archives had come to have the letters, but to my own craft-loving eyes they were a treasure indeed. 

Along with the letters was a copy of the original article which described the craft and had a call to action for more information. It appears that cleekit gloves was acraft predominately practiced by male farm workers in 19th century Scotland, made by way of a hand-made flat hook with a tiny head, which created the dense, but elastic fabric. This craft was seen as distinct from knitting or crochet. In the letters the respondents, from all over Scotland, talked of the craft being handed on by male members of the family. 

Despite a small resurgence in interest in cleeking, thanks to the response to that article, it is something that has now been relegated to the mists of crafts past. We aim to rectify that a little this Creative Learning Week!  

At the ‘Hand-Made Archives’ event I will be delivering a talk on this collection of letters; you will be able to explore the archives yourself to find evidence of craft in our sound, photographic, video and manuscript collections; and in the afternoon we will have a cleeking workshop, led by Dr Alison Mayne. You do not have to have any craft experience to take part, this is all about having a go.

Oral transmission and handing on was such an important part of passing on the cleeking tradition and by taking part in this special day at SSSA, you will be able to give this collection of paper material three dimensions and be able to engage with our archive collections in a very tangible way indeed.

Our event is free, but booking is essential. The event will be available to book through the Festival of Creative Learning Eventbrite page from Monday 21 January. This event is currently fully booked, but please add your name to the waiting list on the Eventbrite page via the waiting list button. If a place becomes available we will contact you, but this will also help us gauge interest in running the event again. 

All craft materials, refreshments and lunch will be provided. 

If you have any questions please contact, Louise Scollay on 0131 650 4163 or email lscollay@ed.ac.uk.

Louise Scollay, Archives and Library Assistant

http://celtscot.ed.ac.uk/archives

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