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Re: [SCA Newcomers] plaid and tartan patterns

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  • Steve Pote
    As wide as Granny s loom and with what ever color wool she had dyed. The side note is the tartan was (sort of) local cammo - so a rocky area might tend toward
    Message 1 of 11 , Sep 6, 2006
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      As wide as Granny's loom and with what ever color wool she had dyed.
      The side note is the tartan was (sort of) local cammo - so a rocky area might tend toward greys, blues by the sea, etc. Color coded clans were much more a product of granny's dyes until very late in period.
      While I do dress my clan in the same tartan (based on what I can find 20 yards of at Joanne fabric in 11 weight worsted wool...), I have no issues switching to one without a specific family precident.
      Did I mention the ancient tartans are great dirt/grass stain cammo too?


      Keith Howard <khoward001@...> wrote:
      Charles is correct. The tartan would be made from whatever they could get
      their hands on, it wasn't until later in history that clans would adapt
      specific tartans.

      One other thing, and I know this is being anal. The tartan is the actual
      design, the plaid is the piece wornover the shoulder.

      Aengus

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    • Patrick Callahan
      Greetings All: If I except that “plaid” is a natural consequence of “vertical and horizontal” threads that any primitive culture would have come up
      Message 2 of 11 , Sep 6, 2006
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        Greetings All:

        If I except that “plaid” is a natural consequence of
        “vertical and horizontal” threads that any primitive
        culture would have come up with; then the question
        becomes, what colors were favored in Scottish weavings
        of the 15oo’s and what dye stuffs would have been
        available to a given region, (I would have to pick a
        region. Here-to-for I have simply been, a sort of,
        generic, “clan caledonia” type of Scott.) locally or
        through trade?

        Simply weaving a modern plaid in washed out colors
        that resemble vegetable dyes and calling it “ancient”
        (the way most tartan companies do) does not make it
        truly ancient. Nor dose it really answer the question
        what the Scotts that used early “tartan”, “plaid”,
        etc. wore.

        I agree whole heartedly with the notion that “specific
        clan tartans” are late in coming and probably out of
        time period. I similarly note that the Irish, the
        Welsh, the Americans (specifically U.S. citizens) and
        probably numerous other populations never adopted
        “clan tartans” for use in their own countries. They
        have created regional and commemorative tartans,
        however.

        A person of specific Scottish clan would of course
        still have the option of using tartan with their name
        on it even if it was not created with in the country
        where they live. Lets face it, we are mostly talking
        about people of Scottish ancestry that created the
        tartans of these other places. I do not know,
        historically, if Native Irish ever really embraced
        “plaid” or “tartan”, nor did the Native Welsh or the
        Native Americans.

        In reference to “Actually Clan Douglas took its name
        from its tartan which is black and grey (dubh & glas).
        It is a tartan which can be made with little or no
        dye, from the natural wool of the grey and black
        sheep. Black dye can be made from oak gall. It is
        very old.”

        Right. You refer to a Shepherd's Plaid which is also
        the Northumberland Tartan. It is, in-deed, very old.
        Possibly the oldest tartan pattern known and is time
        period. The draw back of this tartan is, it’s
        traditionally woven in a small check, which is
        purported to be not very manly. Women generally wear
        smaller designs and men wear larger ones. I had not
        heard of the Douglas connection, but it interests me,
        I will look it up and try to find out more.

        In reference to “There are also certain tartans which
        have been listed in inventories with their setts, but
        I doubt that there are more than a total of 8 truly
        ancient setts.”

        Studying these setts whether they are produced today
        or not would be a great help. This would give me a
        base for colors and patterns I could use in looking
        for close substitute.

        In reference to “Morgaine whose hobby is designing and
        making tartan shawls for the Queens of several SCA
        Kingdoms and the Baronesses of Caid.”

        May I ask, what tartans you favor and why you chose
        them?

        Sincerely:

        Patrick Callahan
        Aka. Dances With Salmon
        Aka. Lost and Confused
      • Coblaith Mhuimhneach
        ... The only artifact of this type dating to before 1600 C.E. of which I m aware is the Falkirk Plaid
        Message 3 of 11 , Sep 6, 2006
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          Patrick Callahan wrote:
          > Could anyone help me in finding out what plaid and tartan patterns
          > might be similar to those that were actually produced in our time
          > period?. . .I am still uncertain as to what a truly ancient plaid'
          > should look like. Colors, Designs, Etc. would be most helpful.

          The only artifact of this type dating to before 1600 C.E. of which I'm
          aware is the Falkirk Plaid
          <http://www.keithcommunity.co.uk/site/museum.htm#Falkirk>. Its pattern
          closely resembles what's now called Shepherd Tartan
          <http://www.tartanstore.net/material/shepherd.html>.

          The Scottish Tartans Museum site hosts an article on "Pre-Culloden
          Plaids" <http://www.scottishtartans.org/oldtartans.html> which lists by
          their modern names tartans whose patterns are documented to before
          1746. The Tartan Store <http://www.tartanstore.net> is a good place to
          get a look at the modern versions--just search for their names.

          Reconstructing History's article on medieval Scottish women's clothing
          <http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/scottish/arisaid.html> includes
          some quotes from 17th-century sources related to the colors used in
          plaids and one colored 17th-century illustration showing an airsaid.



          Coblaith Mhuimhneach
          Barony of Bryn Gwlad
          Kingdom of Ansteorra
        • Coblaith Mhuimhneach
          ... Not according to William Sachceverell, who in 1688 wrote, “The usual habit of both sexes is the pladd;  the women s much finer, the colours more lively,
          Message 4 of 11 , Sep 6, 2006
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            Patrick Callahan wrote:
            > The draw back of this tartan is, it’s traditionally woven in a small
            > check, which is purported to be not very manly. Women generally wear
            > smaller designs and men wear larger ones.

            Not according to William Sachceverell, who in 1688 wrote, “The usual
            habit of both sexes is the pladd;  the women's much finer, the colours
            more lively, and the square much larger than the men’s. . ."
            <http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/scottish/arisaid.html>.



            Coblaith Mhuimhneach
            Barony of Bryn Gwlad
            Kingdom of Ansteorra
            <mailto:Coblaith@...>
          • Patrick Callahan
            Dear: Coblaith Mhuimhneach Barony of Bryn Gwlad Kingdom of Ansteorra In reference to: “The usual habit of both sexes is the
            Message 5 of 11 , Sep 7, 2006
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              Dear:

              Coblaith Mhuimhneach
              Barony of Bryn Gwlad
              Kingdom of Ansteorra
              <mailto:Coblaith@...>

              In reference to: “The usual habit of both sexes is the
              plaid; the women's much finer, the colors more
              lively, and the square much larger than the men’s. .
              ."
              <http://www.reconstructinghistory.com/scottish/arisaid.html>.

              I was unable to get to link to work, but I concede
              that you are probably right, as I think I read the
              same site a some point in my research. The following
              is an article by Matthew A. C. Newsome that caused my
              confusion, resulting in what I posted being incorrect.
              Sorry for any misunderstandings as such was not my
              intent.

              http://blog.albanach.org/2006/04/northumberland-tartan.html


              Friday, April 28, 2006
              Northumberland Tartan
              Ok, so this post will mainly be of interest to the
              guys reading this thread on X Marks the Scot.

              There has been some interest there about the
              Northumberland tartan (also called the Shepherd's
              Check). This is a very simply black and white tartan
              that can be expressed in the basic formula K = W. In
              other words, it doesn't really matter what the thread
              count is, so long as the black and white threads are
              equal.

              The same design in different colors is used as the Rob
              Roy tartan (K = R), the Moncrieff tartan (R = G) (this
              also is an old MacLachlan tartan, by the way), the
              Robin Hood tartan (K = G) and some other variants.

              It is an extremely traditional design. The oldest
              tartan found to date in Scotland, called the Falkirk
              tartan (being discovered in Falkirk) is a simply check
              of light and dark undyed wool.

              The tartan came to be associated with Northumberland,
              in northern England, because it was adopted as the
              official dress of the Duke of Northumberland's piper
              in 1760. From the Northumberland Tartan Company web
              site:
              It is not widely known that the county of
              Northumberland has an official tartan and moreover
              that this tartan is held by many to be one of the
              oldest check patterns, predating the more colourful
              Highland tartans which followed it. The Northumberland
              Tartan, variously known as the Border or Shepherd
              Plaid, is also closely linked to the Percy family,
              forming the official dress of the Duke of
              Northumberland's piper.

              You can read more history on their site. You can
              purchase this tartan through the Northumberland Tartan
              Company, of course, but also through any regular
              tartan retailer under the name "Shepherd tartan." It's
              the same material.

              I've always liked this tartan. Probably partly because
              my own surname of Newsome is English (though not from
              Northumberland that I know of), and partly because of
              the extreme simplicity of the design.

              What I do not like about the tartan, and the reason
              that I have never owned a kilt in it, is because it is
              always produced with such an incredibly small setting.
              Even in heavy weight kilt cloth, the thread count is
              miniscule. Here is a picture of a gentleman wearing a
              kilt in this tartan. (This was taken a couple of years
              ago at the Stone Mountain Highland Games in Georgia).

              The kilt does not look bad, mind you. The small
              pattern is simply not to my taste, and not to the
              taste of a lot of men I talk to about this. Compare
              this to the size sett you typically see the Rob Roy
              tartan, or the Moncrieff tartan woven in. I've seen
              those tartans woven with anything from 1" to 4"
              squares. I've always thought that the
              Northumberland/Shepherd tartan would look much more
              striking (and much more masculine) in a larger
              setting.

              If I were ever to own a kilt in this tartan, I would
              have the cloth woven for me in a large pattern,
              perhaps with 2.5" squares or so. It would cost a bit
              more than using the cloth that is standardly
              available, but I think it would be worth it.

              To give some idea of what that would look like, here
              is a picture of a kilt I made for a client in the
              Moncrieff tartan (red and green). I edited the photo
              to be black and white and played with the contrast and
              brightness to achieve something like what the
              Northumberland tartan would look like on a larger
              scale. I think I might even go a bit larger than what
              is in the photo, but this gives you some idea.

              So how about it woolen mills? When your current stock
              of heavy weight Shepherd check runs out, why not try
              weaving it up with a larger setting. I'm willing to be
              it will increase your sales of kilts and cloth in this
              tartan. In the mean time, if anyone wants a kilt like
              this and doesn't want to wait for the tartan industry
              to begin to produce it in a larger pattern, let me
              know and I'll be glad to order up a small batch for
              you (and maybe enough for a kilt for myself while I am
              at it!)
            • Callahan
              Greetings: Following the idea that early tartan was based on whatever they could get their hands on . I still need to figure out what they could get there
              Message 6 of 11 , Sep 8, 2006
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                Greetings:

                Following the idea that early tartan was based on "whatever they could
                get their hands on". I still need to figure out what they could get
                there hands on, dye stuffs, colors they could produces. The "local
                cammo" comment helps a lot to. I will need try to look for earth
                tones and avoid the bright colors of the more modern tartans.

                I am aware that properly speaking (in Scottish or British usage) the
                tartan is the pattern and the plaid which is rarely seen these days is
                the piece worn over the shoulder. In Gaelic the word plaid originally
                meant "blanket" and tartan is derived from the French word tiretaine a
                type of cloth made of woolen-linen blend. So at least historically
                speaking tartan referred to the fabric itself and not a particular
                design. In American English it get all jumbled up and few American
                know their tartan from their plaid. So the word plaid is often used
                when describing a fashion tartan. (basically a tartan cloth that has
                no specific meaning; regional or clan associations, etc.)

                Patrick





                Re: [SCA Newcomers] plaid and tartan patterns

                As wide as Granny's loom and with what ever color
                wool she had dyed. The side note is the tartan was
                (sort of) local cammo - so a rocky area might tend
                toward greys, blues by the sea, etc. Color coded
                clans were much more a product of granny's dyes
                until very late in period. While I do dress my
                clan in the same tartan (based on what I can find
                20 yards of at Joanne fabric in 11 weight worsted
                wool...), I have no issues switching to one without
                a specific family precident. Did I mention the
                ancient tartans are great dirt/grass stain cammo too?


                Keith Howard <khoward001@...> wrote: Charles is
                correct. The tartan would be made from whatever
                they could get their hands on, it wasn't until
                later in history that clans would adapt specific
                tartans.

                One other thing, and I know this is being anal.
                The tartan is the actual design, the plaid is the
                piece wornover the shoulder.

                Aengus
              • Patrick Callahan
                Greetings All: The article Pre-Culloden Tartans on albanach.org was very helpful to me. There I found three tartans with pre-16oo dates: Lennox District
                Message 7 of 11 , Sep 8, 2006
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                  Greetings All:

                  The article Pre-Culloden Tartans on albanach.org was
                  very helpful to me. There I found three tartans with
                  pre-16oo dates: Lennox District Tartan is dated only
                  as pre-16oo, Ulster District Tartan is dated as 159o,
                  Shepherd's Check (Northumberland Tartan) is dated a
                  325. In addition to these, there were three more
                  possibilities. These were old tartans did not have
                  enough documentation to be defiantly proven to be time
                  period, even though it seems likely that they were.
                  They are Rob Roy Tartan, Gow Clan Tartan and Caledonia
                  Tartan. I would like to thank everyone for coming up
                  with so many good comments, links and ideas.

                  Patrick
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