Tartan Ferret

The Cats' Whiskers

Added value for tartan.
Written by Brian Wilton at 06:00

Tartan Roulette

Lots of fascinating projects wing their way through to me by phone or email and one current one concerns the Russian Scottish tartan. In the wake of the great success of the Chinese Scottish tartan (designed and produced by Strathmore Woollen Company of Forfar) I set about designing a Russian Scottish equivalent and after many, many  months toing and froing with the Russian Consul General in Edinburgh (who became a good friend) and getting permission from the Russian Ambassador in London, the tartan was woven by Strathmore.

The one problem with it was that whilst as designer, I chose the colours, we let the Russians choose the exact shades and the result was a bright tartan that would light up the darkest Russian winter.

Tonight I'm invited to talk to a group of senior Russian businessmen and women who're over in Scotland for a business break and the organisers have gifted each of them some products made in the Russian Scottish tartan - ties, scarves and shawls. I'm interested to see how they're received.

See you JimmyIncluded in my brief presentation to them will be a piece of MacBean tartan gifted to us by Commander Alan Bean (lunar module pilot, Apollo 12, 1969) that he took down onto the surface of the moon and then brought back to earth. That's usually a great hit with audiences.

At the other end of the scale I'm also taking some 'See you Jimmy' hats (those jokey tartan tammies with bright red hair sprouting out of them) to show them that we Scots can have a  good laugh at ourselves. If you want to spread the word that we're not all old sober-sides, you can buy these in our shop (we keep them hidden under the counter!)

By the way - we've added a new page to the weaving section which we think you'll enjoy - a fascinating taste of history about the old hand-loom weaving industry in Bannockburn.

Written by Brian Wilton at 20:00

There's trooble at t'mill!

For readers outside the UK, "There's trooble at t'mill" is an archaic term originating in the industrial North of England translating to 'There's trouble at the mill', meaning of course that  there was serious unrest of one sort or another at the local weaving mill.
So our trooble at t'mill is a series of glitches on the new website which are taking a little longer to fix than we would like. Speed is one issue and some of the complicated and innovative back end facilities aren't as smooth as planned.
So . . . please bear with us and if you have a problem with logging in (some automatically generated passwords have proved temperamental) just email us and I'll give you a temporary password that will work. If you come across any other 'trooble' please do tell us.

Written by Brian Wilton at 00:00

Life's a Bummer!

Lovely idea and good for the garden.



Little did I think when I was suckered into  visiting Blogsville that I would find myself so quickly descending into the bowels of  the heritage world and writing about tartan diaper covers (nappies to we civilised folk in Scotland).
But here I am, shameless to the last,  but full of admiration for Lori McFie of Fuzbomb in Utah who has added tartan diaper covers to her  growing  collection of  nature-friendly products - even organic Nappy 1cotton diapers made by Lori herself. Those diaper covers can be made to match Dad's kilt by the way - what a superb fashion accessory! I can imagine the uproar if a dad and baby dressed like that, had appeared on the Dressed to Kilt runwayin NYC. An added bonus by the way, is that the tartan is WOVEN IN SCOTLAND. I love her imaginative garden photo.
Have a look at her website www.fuzbaby.com - lots of fascinating topics including having a carbon neutral death - I'd much prefer carbon neutral immortality - so much better for the environment.

Written by Brian Wilton at 06:15

She was really daft!

I recently came across this amusing 1930'ish newspaper cutting from the letter pages of an unidentified Scottish newspaper. The writer was George F. Black whose lifetime's work "The Surnames of Scotland" remains the definitive work on Scottish genealogy with alphabetical listings for over 8,000 families. George Fraser Black (1866 - 1948) was a noted bibliographer and historical scholar on the staff of The New York Public Library from 1896-1931 where he was reported at one time as being the Head Librarian.

The cutting . . .

A few weeks ago Mrs Sherrin disputed the local origin of the surname Beagrie from Balgray in Angus. In place of this she tells us that the name is "of Hottentot origin" derived from a race of wandering beggars common to Africa and India. Her authorities for this remarkable statement are two friends, one "a famous explorer who speaks many Eastern languages and dialects," the other an anthropologist who has travelled extensively in Africa and India. Their evidence is confirmed by a Southern Irish woman "who did great service in France in the last war," &c.
John Bagray, who was a messenger-at-arms in Aberdeen in 1569, I have no doubt would have been greatly astonished to learn that he was a Hottentot or at least the descendant of one, and so likewise would have been John Bagray, baker in Edinburgh in 1625 and several other early bearers of the name.
Mrs Sherrin's derivation is only equalled by the preposterous origin she put forth some time ago for the Perthshire surname Larnach, which she solemnly told her readers comes " from Etruscan Lar - a title peculiar to the eldest son," and German nach "near" (!!!).
I feel saddened to learn that the forty and more years which I have spent investigating the origin, meaning and history of the surnames of Scotland was time wasted, and that I must begin again by studying Etruscan, Hottentot, Sanscrit, and many other Eastern and African languages.-George F. Black.

Scribbled at the bottom of this cutting by the collector was
"Guid lad . . . she was really daft"

Written by Brian Wilton at 00:00

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