Heritage Knitwear and Vintage Hunting in Edinburgh

greyfriarsI am writing this as I whizz along in the train back to London after visiting Edinburgh for the first time. I have wanted to visit for ages and finally got the opportunity as my other half was working there. And it didn’t disappoint! I loved the city – such a fantastic mix of architecture, stunning natural phenomena such as Arthur’s Seat, beautiful parks, and some great street style.

I arrived late Friday night and the first thing I did Saturday morning was head to the National Museum of Scotland to see the exhibition on 200 years of Pringle. The exhibition was small but lovely, and charts the brand’s journey from premier underwear provider to Royal Warrant holders for twinsets and cardies! Not to mention some stunning photographs of Tilda Swinton.

drying rackIt was interesting to see the old wool onesies, and the drying rack they were stretched on during manufacture, and there were lots of bloomers and camisoles which look like the ones I unearthed in an elderly relatives house last year. I will have to get home and check the labels but my suspicion is they are more likely to be Marks and Sparks than vintage Pringle.

The knitwear – favourite pieces were a cardigan from the forties, embellished with cleverly placed twill tape, another one in pink with a pretty bow, a patterned mini dress from the sixties, and a cool cable knit sweater made recently with incorporates long nylon beads as panels within the traditional cable pattern.

twill tapepink beads

Then I set out to explore the city.  For vintage lovers Grassmarket is the place to go. I went to Armstrong’s Vintage Emporium which is apparently a local landmark having been established in 1840. I had read some mixed reviews about the shop, with some reviewers complaining about Primark clothing getting mixed in with the vintage. Well – I must admit I did find some Primark pieces along with some Top Shop and Zara, but they were all hung on a rail clearly marked ‘Modern Dresses’ . The vintage rails we just that – vintage – and I did see some very nice pieces. In the end I didn’t buy, but I would recommend a visit as the stocked was well organised and for the most part in fairly good nick.

Another lovely little shop, where I did buy, is the relatively new Pi-Ku Collective at 39 Candlemakers Row. It is a small but perfectly formed shop with a lovely collection of vintage clothing and blankets. I bought a beautiful pale blue silk bed jacket trimmed in off-white lace, and a cool sewing booklet on fitting from the 1960’s.

rooftopsFor the most part though, my favourite part of the weekend was just wandering the streets and soaking up the atmosphere. I have never been to a city where the natural environment is so integrated into an urban setting. The city has really been built into the natural formation of the land rather than imposing on it and the end result is a feeling of peacefulness. I will be back!

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