Sweater shopping in Scotland

I am a "sweater-holic" and I am headed to Scotland in June. We'll be spending several days in Alford, which is about an hour west of Aberdeen in the highlands. This is not far from Balmoral Castle. I already have a driver hired to take me shopping while my husband fishes. Is there a good place to go for traditional Scottish sweaters? Also, I like to buy pottery and unique (but not expensive) jewelry.

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1462 posts

From my experience the nicest sweaters were at gift shops at various castles. I regret not buying one at Glamis Castle-expensive, but one of a kind. Just gorgeous. If you are anywhere near Blair Castle (not far from Pitlochry and Dunkeld) there is the House of Brouhar-sometimes called Harrods of the North. It is a fabulous place even if you don't buy anything-worth a look and has a great food hall.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3296 posts

I would agree that the castles have the best sweaters. We saw some beautiful ones at Cawdor Castle. But watch out. They are not all made in Scotland! If you get over to the west coast, my absolute favorite shop is in Ullapool I have one blue, one green, one orange and one blue sweater from that one shop. (Sweaters are my souvenir!) And, I wore the blue one today in NYC when it was absolutely frigid in our office. : ) There is some wonderful jewelry made in Scotland. There is an Ortak store in Inverness on the main pedestrian shopping street. I loved Hazel Passmore's stuff, but her gallery closed. It's a bit pricer, but beautiful, so if you here of a place that sells it; go look. I didn't buy the first year, and thought about it all the next year. I returned and bought a piece. Orkney is known for it's jewelry designers. Sheila Fleet does some very nice pieces. So look for her. Jenners in Edinburgh has a lovely ion of local designers. It's on the ground floor. There was another jewelry shop on the Royal Mile. The Knock Gallery near Balmoral has some nice jewelry too. A lot of it is from the Baltic. Visit the Knock Gallery for the view as well as the jewelry and art. If you get to Skye go to Skye Silver. And, I've not been to the visitor center in Pitlochry, but I've seen the Heathergems jewelry. Pam

Posted by Kathy
Chicagoland
113 posts

I agree about the quality of Orkney jewelrymakers! My personal favorite is Ola Gorie; I bought a pair of earrings and a gorgeous necklace in Kirkwall last summer. I am pretty sure her stuff is available elsewhere in Scotland and London.

Posted by Karen
Austin
198 posts

Thanks for the information. I will keep my eyes out at the castles. Cost is not so much a factor because my husband's fishing will cost plenty. Eighteen years ago I paid $170 for a hand knit Norwegian sweater, which was more than I had ever paid for an item of clothing. Given my circumstances, this was a stretch even though my parents were paying for the trip. I still wear that sweater regularly--I even had it on the other day. So I am hoping to find a souvenir to remember.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3296 posts

I decided to check out my favorite sweaters online. The first is Quernstone. This was the second hand knitted sweater that I bought in Ullapool. It liked it so much that I bought a second one in the same style in purple a few years later. There's a list of places that stock their sweaters and a ion of tops, although I don't see the ones I bought in the collection and they don't show off very well on the website. I think that's because there is interesting texture which doesn't photograph well. Two of the sweaters come from Sally Phillips Knitware in Ullapool and there is no website. And it seems my favorite knitware shop is for sale due to retirement. Sure wish I knitted. : ) My warmest sweater is from Harley of Scotland and they are in Aberdeenshire! And, I just remembered another great shop! Campbell and Company is in Beauly and I bought two great sweaters there. One was a cardigan, another Harley sweater and the other is a Scott Officer sweater. They are located in East Lothian. And here's the company for Harris. I did find a registry of UK knitting artists, but most are English and they don't necessarily do sweaters. I love my Scottish sweaters or perhaps I should say jumpers and cardigan. : )

Posted by Roger
Monein, Pyrenees, France
425 posts

THE sweaters are from the Shetland Islands, but can be VERY expensive. Mine is one of my prized possessions!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3296 posts

Karin, thank you for posting this question. I've not been in Scotland for two years and am getting a real craving for a new sweater! I've not started looking online for new places to shop for my next trip or maybe online. Here's what I have found. In Galashiels south of Edinburgh: Eribe. Just down the road in Hawick is Hawick Knitware. Also in Hawick Heather Wallace. And another in Hawick. I had no idea that Hawick was the center of Scottish knit ware! But evidently, it is known for this. Pringles, which has shops everywhere was founded there in the early 1800's. But Pringles was bought in the 2000 and the sweaters are now knit in Asia, with only finishing done in Scotland. This one is located in Ardnamurchan on the West Coast West of Fort William. I like the looks of one of the sweaters. And then here's someone who does bespoke sweaters! Or catch her at an fair. Here's a shop in Elgin. Elgin is just east of Inverness. (Visit the Cathedral while you're there.) And handknit hose for kiltwearers in Anan. This is Dumfries and Galloway in the south. In Edinburgh (and elsewhere) Brora. Lastly, here's another list from Undiscovered Scotland.

Posted by Karen
Austin
198 posts

Thankyou for all the links. It looks like I should not have too many problems finding something I like! The big questions now will be Aran style or Fair Isle?

Posted by Susan
Atlanta, Ga, USA
1462 posts

The sweater that I regretted not buying was not a Fair Isle-more of a Shetland. It was a cardigan, with interesting buttons, and appeared to be a mohair sort of wool knit. It was blue in background but full of flecks in different colors-a good match for jeans, skirts, corduroys, etc. The price tag was a bit off putting at 169£ but I do wish I had bought it. Never have seen another like it. Good luck!

Posted by Karen
Austin
198 posts

Blue mohair with interesting buttons and flecks? I think I want one!

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

I'm sure all you ladies look niceer in sweaters than I do, but I collect them nevertheless. Pringles being sold was a catastrophe. I once bought a very heavy hand knit Aran sweater in the Pringles shop in Glasgow. Another shop I patronized was in Inverness in a small shopping mall. The shop rented formal kilts for weddings, etc. and had some fine machine knitted very heavy sweaters. Another shop we visit whenever we are in Glasgow is Crockett The Ironmonger, on West Nile St. This is an old fashioned hardware store that has everything. They have hunting clothes such as sweaters and Barbour coats, sometimes on sale. We have also bought "Mind Your Step" signs there.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

I got tongue-tied talking to women and forgot what else I wnated to say. The National Geographic shop, online, sometimes has their sweaters on sale. I have two, and while they are pricey, they are worth the money. In my opinion.

Posted by Karen
Austin
198 posts

Just got back from Scotland and was somewhat disappointed in the sweater shopping. However, I did find a nice gray Aran-style cardigan at Edinburgh Woollen Mills in Banchory. I walked up and down the Royal Mile looking for a Fair Isle Sweater, and the younger sales people didn't know what I was talking about. There were many cashmere sweaters for sale, but I didn't wish to purchase cashmere, which I can buy for less at Lands end and not have to carry around. I did buy some Heather Gems jewelry in Pitlochry, which are very pretty, not expensive, and available elsewhere in Scotland. I also bought cashmere scarves for the daughters and daughter-in-law (and myself, of course). Also, one of my favorite souvenirs is a dish towel. They aren't expensive, don't take a lot of room in my suitcase, and remind me of my past vacation when I'm home in the dreary months in Minnesota,

Posted by Cynthia
Gig Harbor, Washington, USA
1202 posts

Hello Karen,
Fellow "sweater-holic" here. (One of our reasons for relocating to the Pacific Northwest was "better sweater weather.").... Anyway, as you continue your travels, I have found the best sweaters in Norway - the ones I bought in Geiranger 8 years ago still look new. The other excellent source was Ardara in County Donegal, Ireland. I would guess the fishing is also pretty good in those locations!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3296 posts

Karen, I completely agree that you don't find the good sweaters on The Royal Mile. I almost think you'd be better off looking in Jenners on Princes Street, but I've not actually checked out that theory. I've already listed what I think are the best places and they are a bit hard to find. Pringles and Edinburgh Woolen Mills just don't do it for me. Pam