The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have visited Alloway before they unveiled a giant knitted art installation in East Ayrshire as part of a project to “get the world knitting”.

Charles and Camilla visited Alloway where they posed outside Burns Cottage before speaking to employees of Alloway Pharmacy about their hard work looking after the community during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Later, the royal couple arrived at Dumfries House where they unfurled the huge patchwork mosaic, which was made up of more than 9,000 handmade squares and weighed 130 kilos, from the historic Adam Bridge.

The heir to the throne personally came up with the idea for the colourful piece, which features squares contributed by individuals and knitting groups from around the world including Australia and the US.

The concept aims to celebrate knitting as a traditional craft form and highlight the associated mental health benefits that practising the skill can bring.

It was organised by Charles’ charity The Prince’s Foundation.

To the prompt of a 3-2-1, Charles and Camilla helped heave the display over the bridge.

The prince, who was dressed in a kilt and sporran, said: “I do so really want to offer my congratulations. It’s just wonderful.”

Admiring the display from beneath the bridge, Camilla remarked afterwards: “It’s brilliant. The colours are fantastic.”

The team at The Prince’s Foundation, whose headquarters are at Dumfries House, received knitted squares from across the globe, with contributors ranging from nine-year-old Sasha Bolt from Sanquhar to 101-year-old Ethel Carlyle from Troon – who died shortly after contributing her square.

The pieces were sewn together by staff from the foundation, participants of the charity’s textiles programmes, and prisoners from Cornton Vale Prison in Stirling as part of a rehabilitation initiative.

The patchwork will eventually be dismantled into smaller blankets and distributed to charities in need.

Ashleigh Douglas, future textiles manager for The Prince’s Foundation, said: “Knitting is known to have multiple benefits for the mind and body including reducing depression and anxiety, relieving stress and helping improve motor functions.”

This project forms part of a wider collaboration between the Foundation and The Joseph Ettedgui Charitable Foundation which aims to recreate communities of hand-knitters in the local area with an interest in turning their hobby into a viable business proposition.