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    eric musgrave knows textiles

    'Sharp Suits' author and one-time editorial director of Drapers magazine, Eric Musgrave has 33 years' experience in the textile industry. Here he shares his insights in to why some of his favourite fabrics are 'Made in Scotland'.

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    "Passion is the common denominator"

    Johnstons pompoms

    "During my five-day tour, I was mightily impressed by the creativity, the skills and, yes, the obsessive passion of those who craft the products that are uniquely Scottish.

    Take Esk Valley Knitwear (left, main image). The Annan based producer makes what might appear to be fairly traditional sweaters and cardigans, but most of the garments are seamless, having been made on the latest Shima Seiki knitting machines from Japan.

    The yarn choice is intriguing too. As well as the familiar cashmere, merino and British wool, the company uses rarer yarns such as yak, alpaca, camel and Sea Island cotton to create knitwear they describe as "luxury workwear".

  • "I enjoyed seeing traditional ideas being given a slight twist"

    "It was very encouraging to see pride and passion for making products to be high-quality standard, not to a price. To celebrate its 215th anniversary this autumn, Johnstons of Elgin has produced a limited edition of men's scarves and women's stoles in the super-rare and super-soft vicuna yarn, which comes from a relative of the llama.

    Sold only through Johnstons' website, these items, priced at £325 and £685 respectively, underline the company's credentials as a specialist in the finest luxurious accessories.

    I enjoyed seeing traditional ideas being given just a slight twist to take them off in another direction. On an amusing level, Perth-based The House of Edgar has created special Tartans for Scottish institutions Oor Wullie and The Broons.

    Some of Howie Nicholsby's customers at 21st CENTURY KILTS in Edinburgh select cheerful plaids for his modern interpretations of the kilt. Nicholsby is a fine example of a modernist with a passion for tradition. "I hate it when people mix up different eras of Highland Dress," he told me firmly."

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    Check it out

    Edinburgh's Howie Nicholsby's '21st CENTURY KILTS' are a modern twist on a traditional garment.

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    Soft touch

    Holland & Sherry's 'Callanish Blackhouse' fabrics are made from a blend of merino and cashmere for extra softness.

    "In Peebles I was impressed by the way in which premium cloth merchant Holland & Sherry has adapted a real Scottish favourite by creating a luxurious alternative to Harris Tweed. 

    Alert to the perceived (if somewhat inaccurate) view that the classic cloth is rough and itchy, H&S has created a softer version using wool from the only merino sheep in Scotland (apparently the flock is kept well-hidden in the Highlands). 

    The wool is specially carded, or combed, to achieve the visual characteristic of tweed and blended with 5% cashmere for extra softness. It is hand-woven on the Outer Hebrides and is branded Callanish Blackhouse after the islands’ famous standing stones and the distinctive thatched roof dwellings."

    Company websites

    Esk Valley Knitwear

    Johnstons of Elgin

    The House of Edgar

    21st Century Kilts

    Holland & Sherry