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!


Hamlyns of Scotland has teamed up with the SWI to help them discover some tasty afternoon treats to feature in their new receipe leaflet which they will use at shows and events next year.  They would like to hear about SWI members' favourite sweet or savoury treats – biscuits, cakes, breads, scones or anything else that you enjoy making. The only stipulation is that they must include oats or oatmeal.  Every SWI member whose recipe is included in the leaflet will win a Hamlyns Perfect Porridge Pack.

The closing date for entries is Friday 15 February. The winning recipes will be selected by Hamlyns of Scotland, and the winners will be informed by Friday 1 March.

Details of how to enter can be found in the leaftlet or Hamlyns' website:

 Hamlyns/SWI Recipe Competition



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

Highlights from the November issue include:

  • Designer Araminta Campbell’s twist on textiles
  • Herd of alpacas? Read all about them!
  • Festive gift guide
  • Lip balms put to the test
  • Bonfire recipes
  • Tips for solo travellers

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.

Chairman's Letter

Today has been a lovely September day. The sun has been shining and the autumn colours are beginning to look beautiful.
My husband and I were visiting Dunkeld and had lunch at the local golf club. John has not played golf for a few years but has been a member there for a long time: I always say it is the most expensive lunch we have once a year!  If any of you have ever played the course you will know that the scenery is wonderful overlooking Dunkeld and surrounding area.
This month I attended my own Institute’s first meeting which was a very interesting talk by a podiatrist and apart from advising us on everything we should do to keep our feet “healthy” she had us making our own foot scrub!
Locally we held a planning meeting for our Junior Dippers and have a good syllabus ready for the girls to take part in during 2019.
On September 22 a fellow member and I drove to Kinghorn in Fife Federation to visit their 65th Anniversary Exhibition. It was the most beautiful drive down, and on arrival we had a very welcome coffee with home baking of course! All the work on display was amazing, and so well displayed. It never fails to amaze me the amount of talent we have throughout the country and an exhibition like this is such a showcase for our organisation.
This month we have Finance and H&H meetings at Headquarters followed by a free Safe Guarding Course which Anne Kerr and I will be attending in Edinburgh. I will report on this at a later date. Looking ahead we will be having a post-Conference meeting in October followed by the initial planning meeting for the H&H Conference next year. The Communications Committee will also be meeting to make some future plans. I am looking forward to visiting Wigtownshire Federation Show and Cleish Institute’s 90th birthday party in Perth & Kinross - all in the same weekend.
Although I have been “pensioned off” (without the pension), from our family business due to SWI commitments, I do still sometimes get included in business trips, thankfully, and I am looking forward to attending the British Free Range Egg & Poultry Industry Conference (BFREPA) which is held near Birmingham, with my husband and the boys. It is not as boring as it sounds!
Some of you will have attended the Handcrafts Weekend at Peebles Hydro and I look forward to seeing the basketry and home furnishing items you produce. I am sure you will all have had an excellent time with tutors Isobel and Helen.
Ayrshire and Berwickshire Federation shows will also have taken place by the time you receive the magazine and the Constitution Sub Committee will have met to discuss all comments received about the proposed changes to the constitution. I hope the presentation at conference made the suggested changes clearer. I can assure you that the committee will seriously consider all comments received and work towards having an appropriate document fit for a modern-day charity, which I sincerely hope will be approved in November.
Linda Retson

Meet Your Office Bearers

A office bearers were appointed following the central council in May 2017.

Linda Retson, National Chairman

Anne Kerr, Senior Vice Chairman

Anne Howat, Junior Vice Chairman

Molly Sangster, Honorary National Treasurer



SWI Policy Statements

The SWI has produced the following policy statements:

Portion Food Sizes

Reduction in Sugar Content

Use of Plastics

Feed the Mind



Perth SWI Junior Dippers

Perth SWI has launched a ‘Junior Dippers’ club for girls in P4-S4.

Building links with their local communities has never been more important, and in an effort to do just that, Perth has launched a ‘Junior Dippers’ club for girls in P4-S4. The first couple of sessions have been a huge hit, and over the next few months there will be more with baking, knitting, crafting, crochet, art and floristry all on the agenda.

It’s only £10 for an annual junior membership, and £2 per class to cover expenses. Classes run from 10.30am – 3pm and parents are encouraged to drop the kids off with a packed lunch and head for a coffee or do some shopping in town before coming back for them later.

I chatted with Linda Retson, who pitched the idea to the local federation, and is also the SWI national chairman, and she’s keen to see it succeed;

“The pilot scheme in Perth is one of the first of it’s kind, with a similar idea in Caithness having already taken off. We had 15 girls take part in our first session, and are keen to hear from many others who’d like to come along or register their interest. The idea behind ‘Junior Dippers’ is to give younger girls the opportunity to dip in and out of different crafts and skills, and give members a chance to pass on their expertise and share their passions.”


Lots of fun for all ages

I chatted with Linda Retson, who pitched the idea to the local federation, and is also the SWI national chairman, and she’s keen to see it succeed;

“The pilot scheme in Perth is one of the first of it’s kind, with a similar idea in Caithness having already taken off. We had 15 girls take part in our first session, and are keen to hear from many others who’d like to come along or register their interest. The idea behind ‘Junior Dippers’ is to give younger girls the opportunity to dip in and out of different crafts and skills, and give members a chance to pass on their expertise and share their passions.”

At the moment the group takes place at The Hub, on King Street in Perth, although an alternative venue may be sought if numbers increase, and they hope to introduce sport and outings later in the year. The next planned dates in 2018 are 26th May, 25th Aug, 24th Nov (which will be a special Christmas crafts theme with a show and tell to SWI members!), and depending on interest more dates may be added.

If you know a young girl who’d love to learn some new skills then get in touch or register your interest by contacting Heather on pandkfedsec@outlook.com

(An extract from Small City Big Personality, Perthshire’s online magazine. By Rhona Maxwell)

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




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! 


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 £45 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.