Wrapped in Tartan
When Rachel from Edinburgh-based MacDonald Sporrans wrote to me, asking if I would be interested in reviewing one of their tartan throw rug blankets, naturally the gal who calls her blog Highland Fashionista said yes. When my blanket arrived, I was so glad that I did.
This particular specimen is from their website buyakilt.com. It is a dense, pure wool blanket with traditional fringed edges. This wool has a softer hand to it than the wool blankets we all probably remember from our childhood days, so it feels really nice against the skin. Perfect for cozying-up on a cool autumn or winter day, or if you you live here in Scotland, pretty much any day except for maybe a week or two in July.
This tartan I am wrapped up in for the picture is called Antique Buchanan, and I love it. It couldn't be a more perfect representation of the Scottish landscape in the fall.
Rachel has been kind enough to provide us with a very brief history of tartan in Scotland, and what the "rules" are about wearing it in modern times.
When choosing a tartan, many people opt to go for their clan tartan. This dates back to the 16th Century when different regions of Scotland would wear a distinguishing tartan. As clans were primarily based in a single region, the tartan soon became synonymous with a clan rather than region (in Ireland the tartans are still named by region rather than a clan). It was only in the early 19th century during the Romantic Revival that tartan became the national dress for the whole of Scotland.
Many people honour their family roots by wearing their clan tartan, however it’s not always easy to find a related tartan. The best place to start is the tartan finder at buyakilt.com. This is an extensive list of over 1,000 tartans. You’ll find clan tartans, as well as regional tartans, and generic tartans which have no affiliation.
Where a clan tartan can’t be found, it’s worth researching your family tree a little. Most people do this through their maternal line. Some family names are a sept of a clan, this means they are linked to that clan and would therefore wear the clan tartan.
It’s important to note that there aren’t rules to follow when wearing tartan. If you like the colours of a particular tartan, it’s perfectly acceptable to wear it. People of that clan will usually be honoured that you have chosen to wear it.
Tartan weaving is still a traditional craft with specific tartans being woven in batches. This can mean that occasionally you may have to wait a few weeks for rarer tartans to be woven. Click here to view a short video on how tartan is woven. There are often variations of the same tartan. For example you can get an ancient weave where the colours used to weave the tartan are similar to the colours traditionally used. The tartan will be the same pattern (sett).
Popularity with celebrities and royalty this year has led to tartan being a top trend this season. The most popular tartans in fashion are the Royal Stewart (primarily red) Black Watch (Blue and Green). These are very traditional and generic tartans that people enjoy wearing.
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