Scotland Handknit: The Women Knitting for Independence


 Ye cannae pull the wool ower oor een.”

‘Independence for Scotland’: an idea that has caught our imaginations. Who’d have thought even four years ago we’d be at this point? I’m one of a group of women in my area who not only support independence but want to encourage other women to vote Yes in the referendum.

We’re fed up of the lack of respect shown by entrenched Westminster politicians to what the Scottish electorate want. We’re tired of reading in the media, and seeing on television, distorted truths, outright lies and blatant scare stories about independence. We’re concerned by political posturing and point scoring.

We fear the effect of all this within our communities. Some of us, on ‘coming out’ as Yes voters, have had our point of view ridiculed, our judgement questioned, by friends, neighbours and colleagues. Some of us have been pursued by irate householders for posting information leaflets through their doors, have been refused permission to hand out leaflets, have been refused the let of the local church hall for the Yes Campaign.

But ach, ye cannae pull the wool ower oor een. We ken whit has tae be done.

There’s a great need to build bridges. We decided that, in our area, we’d try to maintain a positive approach to the referendum debate: try to be inclusive rather than exclusive. We’d create spaces where people can listen respectfully to the views of others, talk about their own hopes and fears in a non-threatening way. We’d encourage people from both sides of the debate – and those in the middle – to meet, engage, talk. That way ‘undecided’ voters will feel respected and be more open to points of view they might not otherwise hear. We’re confident that as this happens, they will be swayed by the force of the legitimate arguments of the Yes Campaign. Folk are currently distrustful of any facts, but if we can get the facts through to them, they’ll work out for themselves what’s best for Scotland, their families and themselves.

So we planned  ‘listening groups’ for women who think of themselves as ‘no’ voters or ‘undecided’ voters, and information stalls in all the local villages. These are on-going.

But, finances! The Yes Campaign is always needing money! We need to make money. How?

We wondered about craft workshops, making items for sale: papier mache (bowls, vases, boxes). Book folding? Christmas decorations? I used to make life-size papier mache figures, I said, by the way. What about making a life size figure to take round our stalls with us?

“How would that make money?”
“Not for money,” I said, “just for fun. Might give us some positive publicity. People will come to look, laugh. Then we can talk to them.”
“Who could we make?”
“Alex Salmond?”
“Too divisive a figure.”
“Nicola? Denis Canavan? Blair Jenkins?”
“No. No. No.”
Catriona had been quiet. “What about knitting Alex Salmond,” she said.
“Same problem, whether he’s made of paper or wool.”
“Well, what about a hand knitted map of Scotland?”

We kept our tongue in cheek but planned seriously. We gave the project a name, a motto, an anthem, a blog page and our commitment. We made a few mistakes along the way, nothing insurmountable. Contacts from all over the country got in touch.

Scotland Handknit is open to anyone, whether they’re interested in politics or not, whatever their political persuasion, however they plan to vote in the referendum. Hey, we never even asked whether they were competent knitters!

It quickly developed a life of its own: another of these crazy ideas that became a crazy project. And if we can make that happen – a handknitted map of Scotland, surely independence for Scotland can happen too?

The map will be exhibited as part of Independence Women of North East Fife’s contribution (art exhibition, art installations and workshops) at ‘Hear the Nation’ organised by the North East Fife Yes Campaign, on 21 June 2014 in the Corn Exchange, Cupar, Fife.

Land o the high endeavour
Land o the shinin river
Land o my hert forever
Scotland hand knit. 

Look at the women sittin…
Oh but they’re at their knittin,
Smartly and proudly clickin,
All through the nicht!

Here where the bairns lie sleepin,
Now feel the blood a-leapin,
High as the needles keepin
Scotland, hand knit!

Land o the high endeavour
Land o the shinin river
Land o my hert forever
Scotland hand knit.”

There are still some opportunities for knitters to take part. If you’re interested, get in touch.

Oh, and about raising funds… in our excitement we forgot all about that. It should be possible though. How about, instead of ‘spot the ball’, ‘spot Ballachulish’ or ‘spot Ecclefechan’? Or a treasure hunt?

For more information about Scotland Handknit and how to apply, visit our website at

Aimee Chalmers
Independence Women of North East Fife


About Aimee Chalmers

Aimee Chalmers spent her working life helping people on the margins of society to make their voices heard. She now writes in her own voices (Scots and English).