Welcome to the Scottish Women’s Institutes. Scotland’s leading member based organisation created by women in 1917, designed to bring women together, with a vision to welcome every woman in Scotland to join us.

We are here to educate, to share, to campaign, to learn, to socialise, to build a community and of course, to have fun.

From life skills and arts and crafts to raising awareness of current affairs affecting women and helping inform government issues, the SWI is proud of its heritage and our future vision.

Be part of the SWI. Join us to learn how to make that perfect scone… and a bit more too!

Triennial National Conference 2018

This years National Conference will take place on Saturday 8th September within Perth Concert Hall, Perth.
The theme of the conference is 'Going Strong a Future For All'

 Confirmed Speakers are Nick Newman from ACWW, and Ingred Kilner.

Cost of registration for Voting Delegates and Visiting Members is £18. Visitor and Delegate Forms have been sent to federations. Last date of registration is 10th August 2018.

Registration will take place from 9.15am with conference commencing at 10.30am.

Visitor Members Form be downloaded from the Events section of the Members Area and returned to HQ with payment or alternatively payment can be made by BACS.


Subscribe to the SWI monthly magazine for only £2.00 per issue
Like to receive your copy? Call us on 0131 225 1724 or email to find out more and to be added to our subscription list.
Click here to subscribe >

  • Keep up to date with all latest SWI news from around the country
  • Never miss an issue!

Learn about events, competitions, interesting features, Federation and Institute updates, Headquarter news plus browse our images showcasing monthly activities.

In this month's magazine

February's Women Together is jam-packed with news and features including:

• How to make perfect pancakes
• Chocolate spread comes under scrutiny of our taste panel
• Bake Off's Norman Calder
• WIN! Shapewear from Miraclesuit
• Knitters dress Aldi's Kevin the Carrot for success
• National News
• Federation Round Up
• Book Reviews, Puzzles, Letters and more

Order your copy, for £2 plus P&P, from subscriptions@theswi.org.uk

We welcome all members to contribute with their own images, articles and news. Simply email magazine@theswi.org.uk.

If you don't currently receive the magazine but would like to subscribe to keep up to date with SWI news and enjoy reading a variety of features please contact subscriptions@theswi.org.uk


Advertise in Women Together

Reach around 17,000 women throughout Scotland by advertising in  Women Together, the monthly magazine of the SWI.
Reasonable rates and special discounts.

Why Advertise?
The SWI has around 16,000 members throughout Scotland. Most are 50+, often with rural backgrounds and interests. However, an increasing number of younger, urban based women, are now joining the organisation.

To reflect the needs of a new, younger readership, the magazine has recently been relaunched in a new A4 format with features on Beauty, Fashion, Food and Drink and Women’s Issues, as well as national updates and news from groups around the country.
Our advertising rates have been frozen at A5 prices until May 2016. So, you get twice the size for the same price!

Contact magazine@theswi.org.uk for further information and a complimentary copy of the magazine.

Full page £347; half page £174; quarter page £100; eighth page £65 (not inc VAT).
If you are an SWI member or a registered charity you receive 20% discount.
Reduced rates for serial ads and a free editorial with 3 consecutive ads.

Women Together Wants Your Features!

We welcome contributions from external writers.

We’re looking for features on a wide range of subjects including crafts, food and drink, women’s issues, travel, health, lifestyle and general interest. If you can supply high resolution, good quality photographs as well that would be a bonus! Length should be between 600 and 1200 words – and currently we’re particularly looking for longer articles. Fee negotiable.

Please send all copy to The Editor, magazine@theswi.org.uk, or SWI, 42 Heriot Row, Edinburgh EH3 6ES. Copy deadlines are the 26th of each month, eg 26 January for the March issue (out end of February).


Material submitted should be original. Although great care is taken with everything submitted, Women Together is not responsible for any loss or damage which may occur.

Meet your office bearers

A new team of office bearers was appointed following the central council in May.

Linda Retson, National Chairman

Anne Kerr, Senior Vice Chairman

Anne Howat, Junior Vice Chairman

Molly Sangster, Honorary National Treasurer

Read this month magazine for a chance to find out more about them! 


Sewing Blog

What a pleasure sewing has given women like Janet Hunter (85), a member of Broughton Institute, in Peeblesshire, who has penned her memories of the different sewing stages she has experienced – and for whom we have fulfilled her ambition of seeing her words published online in her first ever sewing blog.

Janet’s blog takes a look back at the changing trends that her lifelong hobby has gone through. Who knew that sewers were early pioneers of recycling, or the lengths they would go to ensure tables were dressed in style and grace?

My Nostalgic ‘Sew-Journ’

By Janet Hunter

While gathering together some pieces of sewing in an effort to create some order out of chaos, I reflected on the way my sewing journey had evolved through my lifetime and how times have changed so much that some of my projects would require some explaining to the younger members of my family. Now in my 86th year I recalled the different stages of my life which led to different reasons for sewing.


The Bottom Drawer

On hearing about this phenomenon my grandchildren’s reaction was one of open-mouthed wide-eyed incredulity. What is a bottom drawer? Why would you have one?

Given their response, I too became to wonder why anyone would need so many embroidered table cloths and matching napkins and tray cloths, no less! The shower cloth puzzled them – could one use it in the shower? Some explanation was required.

I have kept the above items. They have not been entirely unused but the need for them has diminished over the years. With tongue firmly in cheek, I intend to leave them to my grandchildren in my will and there will be much hilarity.

I must mention the long-ago whist drives of which were many in my rural community. A bonnie, hand-embroidered cloth to cover the card table after play, the best bone china cups and saucers and a three-tiered cake stand were de rigueur! I keep quiet about these delusions of grandeur. Everyone did it. Not just me!


The Home Making and Dress Making Stage

At the time intricate embroidery was not a priority. As a busy wife and mother, my leisure hours were spent knitting small cardigans from patterns costing 3d. Evenings were spent sewing small skirts and kilts and fashioning pinafores and dresses from the grown ups’ cast offs. I must inform my grandchildren that I had recycling down to a fine art!

Making curtains and cushion covers, pegging Readicut rugs were ongoing necessities. Completion of these items gave much satisfaction and saved money.

This was also the era of the dress-making evening class, where one learned to tackle amazingly complicated procedures. Inserting zips, engineering a plaquet and invisible hemming come to mind.

The results of my efforts during this stage were useable and wearable. Needless to say, nothing is left of these in my hoard. The grandchildren will be euphoric when they hear that!

The Sewing for Pleasure Stage

The pressure is off. Now is the time to indulge myself. There is no pressing reason to produce items for the home or for wearing. This stage seemed long in coming. Indeed it was only after retirement that I took up my embroidery needle again. I was keen to try as many techniques as possible and now in my collection I have samples or stumpwork, goldwork, crewel embroidery Calico gardens, Bargello and many other intricate works. No longer bottom drawer, more top drawer, if I say so myself.

Demonstrations at the SWI and the help and encouragement from members of my local Embroiderers’ Guild have provided me with much enjoyment of my craft.

My lovely daughter, who was often a reluctant recipient of my dress making stage now seems keen to encourage me and I was delighted to receive a splendid, commodious sewing box from her at Christmas.

Will there be a Fourth Stage?

Readers of this blog, particularly those of my vintage, will perhaps relate to my experiences and the stages I have mentioned. My grandchildren will be amused at my use of that current terminology. They are doing all they can to gently steer me into this age of rapidly advancing technology.

From curtain net to the internet, what pleasure I have had in between.

Save Scottish Crafts Campaign

Lorraine says:  “I’m very happy to support the ‘Save Scottish Crafts Campaign’. I learned knitting at school and find it therapeutic and a real stress buster!”

Whilst handcrafts are no longer taught in schools and anecdotal evidence suggesting some people cannot tackle basic tasks like sewing a button onto a garment, the SWI fears that handcraft skills could be in danger of dying out.

Yet there is an appetite among women to take up handcrafts: an SWI survey carried out two years ago showed dressmaking, knitting and crochet in the top 10 skills women in Scotland would like to learn. The poll included cooking and arts and crafts among the top skills women would like to develop, other areas in which the SWI is renowned for.

Youtube link to film of Judy Murray and Martel Maxwell knitting



Scottish Dogs Discriminated Against for Colour of their Fur to be Helped by Coats of Many Colours

Dozens of homeless dogs in Scottish rescue centres are being discriminated against because of the colour of their fur - but now an army of knitters from The Scottish Women’s Institutes has stepped in to help the pooches find their forever homes by creating colourful woollen overcoats.

Black Dog Syndrome results in dark-coated dogs being overlooked by potential new owners in favour of those that are lighter-coloured. It means that dogs with black or dark fur tend to remain in the care of The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA) for longer periods of time.

After learning about the discrimination being faced by the homeless hounds, SWI approached fellow charity the Scottish SPCA offering their members’ services to knit ‘coats of many colours.’ It is hoped the technicoloured coats – created as part of the celebrations to mark 100 years of the SWI – will make dark-coloured dogs more attractive to potential re-homers.

Read more >

Colourful Dogs Courtesy of the SWI

SWI national chairman Christine Hutton says, “We are encouraging our members to pick up their knitting needles and help a homeless hound. It’s a mission to help end Black Dog Syndrome, a phenomenon whereby potential new owners overlook black dogs in favour of their lighter-coated counterparts. 

“Some of Scotland’s top craftswomen are making multi-coloured dog coats in aid of homeless pets desperately seeking loving new homes – to boost their appeal and help them become rehomed more quickly.

“It’s sad to think of black dogs being less appealing simply because of the colour of their coat, but we hope that our knitters will be able to kit them out in coats of many colours and improve the chances of them being rehomed more quickly.”




NEW! The SWI Cookbook is jam packed with recipes guaranteed to fulfil all tastes!


From simple starters and scrumptious soups through to mouth-watering main courses and delightful deserts, the cookbook has been created by members, professional chefs and celebrity chefs including:

  • Neil Forbes
  • Lady Claire Macdonald OBE
  • Nick Nairn
  • Tony Singh

Indulge in a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes and try out new meals for you and your family and friends.

The perfect gift to yourself, or to your friends and family! 

Breast Cancer Now, TLC Campaign - touch, look, check

SWI joins forces with breast cancer charity to save lives

Scottish Women's Institutes is partnering with Scotland’s leading breast cancer charity in a determined effort to improve early detection of breast cancer. In this, our centenary year, we are championing measures that can help stop women dying from the disease.
Statistics show that less than half of all women in Scotland check their breasts regularly and anecdotal evidence tells us that there are women who feel intimidated about attending screening clinics. Yet these are simple actions that can save lives as they can help find cancer at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Promoting screening attendance and self-checks is at the heart of our year-long campaign being run in association with Breast Cancer Now Scotland.

Click here for full article>
Click here for breast check guide>

Has cancer touched your life? Throughout 2017, and our campaign in partnership with Breast Cancer Now, we will be looking to find real life stories of how people have been impacted by the disease. Share your story with us at magazine@theswi.org.uk


The SWI Online Members Area is now ready for you.

If you are already a member and registered to the website, simply login using your unique username and password. Or if you are a SWI member, but not registered to the website as yet, you can do that just now, it only takes a few minutes. Register here >

The Members Area is here to add content to and we encourage our members to contribute. Simply submit to hello@theswi.org.uk 


Why Join? Well, why not?

  • Be part of a nationwide group of women all with the same vision and passion for sharing and learning skills
  • Learn a new craft or skill in a sociable and welcoming environment local to you
  • Meet women with similar interests on a regular basis
  • Take part in social events and arts and craft competitions
  • Campaign on issues that matter to you and your community 



Only £40 one off initial fee for all new members who join online. And you will receive a free copy of our magazine each month*


Every week, every month and every year, we have a wide range of exciting events and activites that take place throughout Scotland.
These can be arranged at National level, Federation level or locally at Institute level.

View our Events Diary for a list of our forthcoming events >

Also keep up-to-date on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter !

Find Your Local Institute

We would love to welcome new members to any of our institutes so you can come along, enjoy the atmosphere, discover more about what we do, then select the institute that suits you best. You can join an institute for a small fee (approx £20-£35) per year and enjoy all the benefits of being a member.