LIKE writing, weaving is an exacting, solitary art form, and one where the completed picture is only revealed when the final work is done.

And like a plot from one of his famous mysteries, one Scotland’s leading writers, Ian Rankin, has slowly been drawn into the world of tapestry and weaving, inspired by his wife, Miranda Harvey, who his weekend reveals a major show of the art-form at Inverleith House in Edinburgh.

Rankin said he knew little about the craft until Ms Harvey, who he has co-founded the Cordis Prize for Tapestry, worth £8000, became interested in it, and began weaving, around 15 years ago.

Seventeen art works from across the world will be on display at the show at the gallery in the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh this weekend, in an exhibition running until 27 May.

As the works were being hung in the “gorgeous space” of the gallery yesterday, Rankin and Ms Harvey explained how the art form had become woven into their lives.

Rankin said: “She took me with her, basically, and when she was sitting at home doing the work, I got interested in it for the first time.

“When we set up the prize - to hopefully to get more people interested in tapestry and the skills involved - it turned out our prize was the biggest in the world, and suddenly artists from all over the world became interested.”

There are also, the writer said, parallels between weaving and writing.

“It is an intense intellectual and emotional experience,” he said. “You are usually in a room on your own, working away.”

Rankin added: “Weaving is a slow process...when you start a project you have no idea how it is going to look at the end, and that’s how I write a novel - when I start a novel I have no idea how it’s going to end or where its going to go - and talking to some of the artists in the last few years, they say ‘I had a concept, I had an idea’, but when you put it on a big canvass, as it were, you have no idea until you do it.

“What you see, when you see this exhibition, is a range of skills, a huge range, as with writers - every writer approaches things differently, every has a different style or theme - and that is what you see with tapestry makers too.”

The show displays work selected from 75 submissions, with weavers chosen from Japan, Serbia, Norway, Canada, Denmark, Hungary and the UK.

Some of the work tells stories: Joanne Soroka’s tapestry honours Irena Sandler, the woman who smuggled 2500 babies out of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Ms Harvey, who says she is an “enthusiastic amateur” at weaving, said that Edinburgh is a hub of weaving expertise.

“Part of why we had a prize, was to give something back to Edinburgh, so that people could see the best that the world has to offer, and to give international artists a stage to show their work,” she said.

“Edinburgh is an absolute hub of this art form - Scots are modest and tend to underplay their strengths, and this is a real strength, it is one of the cradles of the art form and it is great that it is celebrated here.

“I am anticipating that people will walk in here with no idea what the art form is - perhaps with grandchildren to entertain - and it works on that level, because tapestry weaving is very accessible, even when it is challenging and weird.”

She added: “I have great faith in this art form, even when it is challenging, it is not intimidating. People can have their own opinions, so I am looking forward to hear what people think about it, and for people to come here in enormous numbers.”