Araminta Birse-Stewart is the owner, founder and creative director of Araminta Campbell, the largest producer of handwoven tartan in Scotland.
Araminta found her passion for textiles unassumingly, as you will find out throughout this interview.
Now she has created an inspiring business, focussing on the traditional hand-weaving craftsmanship that has been practised in Scotland for centuries, creating one-of-a-kind wearable pieces handwoven in luxurious undyed British Alpaca, and a range of handwoven limited edition tartan pieces too.
She has designed many custom tartan and tweed designs for a variety of clients, supporting Scottish artisan mills to weave their cloth and products, including most recently for Dame Judi Dench.
A visit to Araminta’s gorgeous atelier is the perfect addition to any trip with us. Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on day experiences and multi-day trips.
I grew up in Aberdeenshire, in the Dee Valley so much of my childhood was spent exploring nearby fields and building dens in the woodlands surrounding my home. I am lucky enough to have my grandparents house to go to in the holidays, in the highlands North of Inverness. It was here that I found my inspiration for my latest tartan designs, ‘Highlands at Dawn and Highlands at Dusk’ from the arresting view from my grandparent’s house.
I have a Degree in Embroidery, which is a fine art based degree, I am therefore self-taught in weave and basically learnt through watching videos and making mistakes that took weeks to unravel! When I started weaving it was like something clicked into place, it is very mathematical and structured and therefore each stage whether designing, setting up the look or weaving, is challenging and precise. When looking at a weave design I liken it to trying to read music, unless you are proficient, it can be impossible to translate!
In the early days, I was working as an artist and quite simply, my aim was to continue expressing my creativity through textiles which had a story. As time went on, I found that I didn’t want to work alone and I wanted to be around people I enjoyed working with- you learn so much from collaboration in every sense. Essentially, I feel that I am still creating art but am able to translate it in different ways, in a client's custom design or one of our own exclusive pieces, every piece has a story. I am also passionate about supporting the weave industry in Scotland, both millweaving and handweaving. When I first started, I could not find any opportunities in handweave so I am very proud that soon we will have four handweavers working for us. I hope that in the coming years, we will establish a handweave apprenticeship to continue this journey.
We recently moved to our beautiful Atelier, Duddingston, which is on the outskirts of Edinburgh, I think this surprises many people but everything that inspires me comes from being in the Scottish Countryside. I honestly believe it is one of the most beautiful places in the world with the incredible wildlife and I therefore wanted the business to be firmly rooted in the landscape. Also, I founded the business on sustainable foundations purely as, to me, this was obvious. I not only wanted to showcase the best craftmanship but source as locally as possible, this is a journey and I find it very inspiring to see new opportunities to use British fibres.
Not for everyday, but Scottish Langoustines.
Oh this is a difficult one, Scotland is so much bigger than people think so you can spend a long time travelling to the best places, but the journey through the Scottish landscape is always spectacular! Would drive into the Cairngorms to witness the Scottish Highlands and go for a hike in the hills (you may see Red Deer, Red Squirrels and wonderful bird life) before a delicious lunch at The Fife Arms or even better afternoon tea (my favourite meal!).