The colours have been chosen to reflect the deep lochs and vibrant sunsets, diverse wildlife and rocky outcrops, and every stitch will tell a tale of Highland and Islands life down the generations.

Working in living rooms and workshops from the Small Isles to Inverness, the Outer Hebrides and onwards to Orkney, an army of stitchers - some expert, some raw beginners - are preparing to bring their corner of Scotland’s heritage to life.

Eventually, in what promises to be a fascinating marriage of art, history, colour and skill, a new tapestry will emerge that will show off the rich geology, wildlife, flowers and stories of the people who call it ‘home’.

Over the coming weeks, parcels of linen, threads and patterns will begin to arrive in homes dotted across the Highlands, ready for stitchers to begin working on a major new tapestry.

Once complete, the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will tell a story thousands of years in the making, reflecting the unique culture, scenery, wildlife, plants and people right across the region.

The work is being designed by artist Andrew Crummy, who also was also behind The Prestonpans Tapestry, The Great Tapestry of Scotland, and The Scottish Diaspora Tapestry.

He is being joined by historian Alistair Moffat, who also worked on The Great Tapestry of Scotland, and who has been given the task of curating a vast range of potential content, drawing inspiration from stories submitted by local communities and using his knowledge of Scottish history and culture.

The completed tapestry will feature more than 50 panels of mixed sizes which as well as individually stitched ‘pictures’ depicting scenes or events from Highland and Islands life, will also include samples of the rich range of fabrics synonymous with the region.

Mr Crummy said: “The idea is to create almost a visual poem – a textile feast of colours and movement that reflect the Highlands and Islands, inspired by the colours of the tweeds and the multitude of stories.

“The threads running through all the stories will be twisted together like a piece of Harris Tweed to tell a much bigger story.”

Tapestry panels will feature familiar elements of the Highlands and Islands landscape such as the Old Man of Storr, part of the Trotternish peninsula on the Isle of Skye, Orkney’s Old Man of Hoy, and a black house, alongside images of wildlife, flora including kelp and wildflowers, and scenes that tell of the movement of people and challenges faced across the generations.

More than 400 volunteers have responded to a call for help to make the new tapestry. Each panel is being allocated to a stitching group, some larger than others: in Nether Lochaber, the group numbers 16, while in Canna in the Small Iles there is just one, with three on Rum and three on Eigg.

Two groups on Skye – one in the north and one in the south – will also work on the project, along with others in Lewis, South Uist and Benbecula.

Kirstie Campbell, a freelance and educator for the V&A Museum in Dundee, who is co-ordinating the project, said: “We have no shortage of volunteer stitchers so far, some worked on The Great Tapestry of Scotland but the majority didn't.

“We have some schools groups, felting and quilting crafting groups, and also individuals who are joining a group of stitchers and forging new friendships.

“We have complete beginners to advanced level, and a good spread throughout the region - Shetland, Orkney, Skye, Lewis, Uist, Benbecula, Mull , Islay, Canna, Muck, Eigg, and then on the mainland from Lochgilphead, Oban, Lochaber, Inverness, Nairn, Elgin, Ullapool, Gairloch, Scoraig to name a few.”

The project has received a significant donation of Harris Tweed, made by millworkers and weavers in Harris and Lewis, which will be incorporated into the tapestry.

“We are using as many materials from the area as we can, linen from Bute, tweeds from Harris and Islay and speciality hand spun yarns from Sutherland amongst others,” added Kirstie.

“We wanted to use materials that would really provide joy for the stitchers to work with and fortunately for us there are a wealth of such materials in the region.”

She added that the materials “really reflect the beauty, colours and variety of the landscape and provide a connection to the landscape and a real feast for the senses.”

The tapestry is part of the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, a partnership project between The Highland Council and High Life Highland, delivered in collaboration with VisitScotland.

A key aim is to encourage visitors to explore and experience the more remote and rural parts of the Highlands and Islands, particularly outwith the typical holiday months, and to enhance its reputation as a place of outstanding natural and cultural beauty both at home and abroad.

The tapestry project is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

Once complete it will go on show within the newly transformed Inverness Castle before touring venues across the Highlands and Islands.

Ms Campbell said a key element in the tapestry is the army of stitchers, who are expected to forge new connections and friendships as the project evolves.

“The intertwining of the narrative written by Alistair Moffat with the striking and iconic images drawn by Andrew Crummy create an inspiring place to start the storytelling, add in the unbelievable and beautiful raw materials from the region that draw on the textile heritage of the Highlands and Islands and it’s a heady mix.

“Bringing this all to life will be the stitchers, who will be intertwining their own stories, creativity and amazing textile skills,” she added. “I'm excited for them to experience the beautiful materials and forge new connections through the sharing of creative skills.