Moving right along, and going for another two-posts-in-one slingshot, we have Handicrafts. I’ve written before about how fibre arts, kitchen craft, and other such things are ways for me to connect with my ancestors, so this is nothing new on that front.
However I wanted to share my latest bit handicrafting, which is adding another layer to that connection.
See, my latest weaving project – the reason I wanted to learn to weave in the first place, no less – is the weaving of my family tartan.
I (re-)warped the loom this morning and did one (wefting) cycle of the colour pattern.
That’s how you weave a tartan. The warping pattern and the wefting pattern are the same, and you get the complicated interweaving by using a variety of colours in a simple (1-2-1-2) up-down alternating pattern, rather than by using a complex mix of warping levels – which would require either a more complex loom or – in my case – a more complex understanding of how to weave using a more complex loom (as my loom can do four+ heddle “levels” at a time… apparently).
My paternal grandmother was a weaver. The tartan I’m weaving belongs to my paternal grandfather’s line. The line that bears my name. My paternal grandmother was Beligan/German/Scottish. My paternal grandfather was Scottish. My maternal lines were English, Irish and Scottish (and I have Plans to do a weaving of my mother’s clan (her family line is a sept of a particular clan) tartan as well, but I want to do this one, first).
When I was a kid, I had a kilt in my clan tartan. By the time I hit puberty it was too small for me, but I’ve wanted to have one ever since. My plan for this hand-weaving is to make a garment that is part tartan and part leather, with the two pieces joined (and edged) with a thin (1″-2″) strip of black leather. I’ll get my lovely wife to do the sewing on it, I suspect, and – most likely – I’ll throw in a cotton/broadcloth lining (so not really a kilt, but something of that ilk).
My wife said to me today: You might be the first person in your line, in two hundred years, to weave the family tartan.
And I might be.
Of course there’s that small situation where the Clan Tartans are a “noble savage” fabrication by the Brits, connected with a Scottish fabric mill that named its different tartan patterns – somewhat randomly – after highland and lowland clans (and a number of other things, such as towns) and that this was going on about 200 years ago. Before that, Scottish folks wore tartan, to be sure, but they weren’t specific to any given clan. The wearing of tartan was forbidden by the English crown in the mid-1700s because of its associations with Scottish nationalism – that bit’s true – but my people in the West Marches and near Whiteadder (about 3 hours by bicycle, or a day-and-a-half by horse-drawn wagon, from Edinburgh) didn’t have tartans specific to their family-names until about 1815.
So it’s more likely that I’m the only person in my family line (barring anyone who worked in the mills for William Wilson & Sons (which, being located in Banockburn, an being therefore rather a ways from our traditional lands, so probably didn’t employ many, if any, of my ancestors) to have woven my family tartan.
Non the less, I hope they like that I’m doing it, that I’m thinking of them and glad to have them in my history and on my side. 🙂
Meliad the Birch Maiden.