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Tartan Ferret

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

Delivery Room Panic!

After a protracted process and a good few bolstering malt whiskies*, the new website has eventually seen the light of day. There's certainly a very strong family resemblance and it seems to have the requisite number of fingers, toes and other organs all in the right places, so we're off to a good start.
Quite a few burps appearing and the odd little dribble down my back but that's the joy of fatherhood. I've probably stretched that metaphor as far as I dare so it's back to plain English.
As expected in a website of such complexity, a few glitches are appearing and there will doubtless be more for a couple of weeks so we 'crave your indulgence.'
If you come across a problem, please do let us know and we'll fix it as quickly as possible but in the process of glitch-hunting, we hope you'll enjoy what you see . . . and there's much more to come.

* Just in case readers across the Atlantic think we can't spell; over here Scotch is whisky (plural - whiskies). The Irish and American equivalents are whiskey (with an 'e') and the plural is whiskeys

Written by Brian Wilton at 17:15

Wallace Society Tartan


Welcome to our first Guest Blogger - Christine Macleod from the famous Kilbarchan Weaver's Cottage where she's curator, weaver and gifted enthusiast of all things tartan and the little village of Kilbarchan which used to house over 800 individual weavers.

Went to the Isle of Bute with my daughters Iona and Cara on the day the weaving Society of William Wallace tartan came off the loom.

The building , now Bute Fabrics, was once a convent and an orphanage with the
addition of the workshops to hold the ten or so looms This west coast island mill works to create beautiful cloth, which is sent all over the world. It produces fabric now furnishing places like Hong Kong airport, The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and The Queen's Gallery in Holyrood Palace.to name ut a few.

I met the managing director, James Sprint and a number of other friendly staff, but spent most of the time with designers Catherine and Fiona. They gave us a fascinating tour of the weaving shop and all the techniques involved in production. It was amazing to see how weaving has developed today from the old traditional handloom that I use in a village just a few miles over the water. When I first saw the piece of cloth for the Wallace Society being woven, it was an emotional moment. From the initial ideas for shades and thread count, designed to include important links with our patriot William Wallace, came a beautiful piece of cloth that I'm sure that many people will be proud to wear.

The attention to detail was immense. The cloth is woven on a rapier loom, the first time that I have seen such modern technology in action! Stuart, the weaver is a man of Bute and his equivalent in 1298 would have gone with Wallace to the Battle of Falkirk.

We were then shown all of the processes of inspection that the tartan will go through before it leaves the island bound for the finishers in Galashiels and Selkirk, before being returned to Ken MacDonald's shop in Paisley for uplift by he members of The Society!

One of my daughters present said that she could see that Bute Fabrics was "my kind of place", believe me, that's a huge compliment! It was an unforgettable day, and the very first time that any cloth that I have designed has ever been commercially produced. It is not done for profit or gain, but because it means omething very personal to many people. I wish that they could all have been there to see it happen and produced on an island so close to home that has such historic links with Wallace. It is a small place that takes the tradition of Scotland and Scottish fabrics to the wider world and breaks barriers between traditional and contemporary design. It is roducing top quality fabrics to suit today's environment and expectations. I could think of no better place this to have this tartan woven.

Written by Christine MacLeod at 00:00

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