"National Tartan Day, 2013 - Adventures in Scotland . . . "


I thought we'd do something a little bit different this time around in honour of National Tartan Day - the day set aside to celebrate Scottish heritage.  In years past, we've recognized the day with a glorious parade of tartan images and plaid pictures!  But, this year - I thought we would just go straight to the source - SCOTLAND.

I had the great pleasure of touring through Scotland with Ronda Carman a few months ago - visiting textile mills and taking in the local sights  - and I thought I would share a few of the travel pix (taken by the amazing Gerardo Jaconelli) from my visit.

A brisk afternoon with Fiona, me, and Ronda - on the ferry to Bute . . . to visit Bute Fabrics. 

It was amazing to see every single metre of textile being inspected and
repaired by hand as part of the finishing process.

John Glen, of Begg of Scotland, with Ronda and me - as he guides us around his
amazing facility - explaining the weaving process. 

This afternoon was clearly one of the highlights of my trip.  Yes, we boarded that tiny
little plane to fly to the outer Hebrides Islands to visit the Harris Tweed Authority.  

Yes, this is where ALL the Harris Tweed in the world comes from.  All of the wools are from the UK - and
they are brought here to the Hebrides to be dyed and mixed into the amazingly
complex threads that are woven into Harris Tweed.
While I was visiting - they were making the most incredible thread - and a deep, musky, chestnut
brown colour.  
Like a painter using a palette of paint colours - the artists at Harris Tweed mix these
incredible hues to create the threads used to weave Harris Tweed. 
So . . . here's the truly amazing part of the Harris Tweed story.  Though you may have often used
the term 'cottage industry' to describe any one of a number of hand-made items - Harris Tweed
is a 'cottage industry' with ACTUAL cottages.  After the yarns are spun at the main factory - they
are delivered to individual craftsmen on the island - where they are woven in small cottages or 'crofts'
into the yardage. 
A simple 'herringbone' weave - in rich purple and black.  
Then the yardage is send back to the factory - where it is washed and inspected . . . .
More of the beautiful tweeds from Harris in the receiving department . . . 
And then after they are inspected - and each metre is stamped - marking
them as true Harris Tweed before being sent out.

Ronda and I also had the great pleasure of spending a long afternoon 'at the pub' with Brian
Wilton, President of the Scottish Tartan Authority.  Chatting about some of the modern
uses of tartan - and beginning to plot a custom designed tartan for myself.  Yes. 

For Further Reading on Scottish Textiles . . . 

"Tartans" by Brian Wilton, of the Scottish Tartan Authority

Scottish Estate Tweed, from Johnstons of Elgin

Harris Tweed, by Lara Platman


(Images – Copyright Gerardo Jaconelli) 

These images may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission.


quintessence said…
Fabulous! And great shots - of course!
Scribbler said…
This is so interesting -- I enjoyed the tour.
What an interesting post. As an artist I had to aahhh when I saw the palette of colours they use, I had no idea that they were all woven from something like this.

I love your oxford shoes too, I rescued some from my mums vintage wardrobe and will be wearing them this winter. Unfortunately in the Antipodes we have just hit our Autumn so it won't be long before I have them on.

Thank you for such a great post.

Lee :)
My Notting Hill said…
We've just returned from a week in Scotland, loved it. My husband bought 3 Harris Tweed blazers while there. Fun to see your behind the scenes pics.
Nicola said…
Love this post, Scot. Thank you!

Not only does it bring me happily back to the UK, it's also truly informative about the rich and ongoing tradition of Scottish resources in wool & weaving.

I can see you all had a wonderful time on this very Highland inspired journey! Keep the traditions going...
Sarah said…
Perfect way to celebrate the day. Happy Tartan Day, Scot!
Really enjoyed the tour. I love Harris Tweed. And the photos are gorgeous!

I love this post! I remember that several of the fabulous blogs that I love and read were invited to Scotland and have been waiting to see more photos.

I hope that you had some time to see some of the countryside? I have been to Scotland many times and I never tire of the beauty, the tartan, the wonderful people, the history and so much more. I dream of living there.

If I may ask, did you bring home a lit of tartan souvenirs?

Have a great week, Elizabeth
This is such an informative and lovely post, Scot.
Thank you for sharing.
Happy Sunday.
What a great tour. You must have had the most amazing time. I'm so glad we are seeing so much wool in the fabric books these days. There just isn't anything like it.
Rick said…
Looks like a great trip--thanks for sharing.
My maiden name is Houston and while I love tartans, I have been most disappointed in the Houston tartan. I mean orange. Really?

Popular Posts