As the cold air of the North Atlantic finally broke through
the hot July air mass sitting over coastal New Hampshire my new kilt arrived
from the North Carolina kilt-maker, Matthew Newsome, www.NewHouseHighland.com
|Kiltmaker's label on waist lining|
In a trade route nearly 400
years old, funds went to Scotland for cloth (D.C. Dalgliesh of Selkirk, www.dcdalgliesh.co.uk
), which was
then shipped to the Carolinas for tailoring and then finally a completed
garment was sent to New England.
double dose of history, kilt and trade, delivered on a summer’s day.
After many years of thinking about getting a kilt the day of
reckoning had arrived. I opened the package and pulled out the kilt.
I am going to wax lyrical about this
for a short while because it’s just one of those moments in life when touch,
smell and fit lift you from the everyday world.
The cloth is exceptional with a
weight and drape that met every expectation, and reminded me of why I prefer
pure wool to blends. The hem is a selvage and the sunlight caught the nuanced
reflection, visible to the owner, but not the world, a subtle reminder of
tailoring to the cloth.
the kilt for the first time was a moment of sartorial bliss. It looks grrreat
, sits rrright
, as it should be -- but isn’t always.
|Kilt with flashes|
For the first time since receiving it as a generous birthday
present from my wife, I was able to use the sporran from McRostie’s, http://www.mcrostie.co.uk/
(We both rode horses for years and for a
moment, the smell of this sporran made from bridle leather combined with the
wool kilt reminded me of crisp autumn canters and cold winter gallops, a
memory, not bad poetry.)
I wore my
new kilt to the Athenaeum (Portsmouth, NH. USA) to show a friend and enjoyed a day of unexpected
While descending the parking garage staircase, a woman saw
me and reminisced about how years earlier she and a girl friend saw a very
handsome man in a kilt at a gathering of the clans who turned out to be a
minister, which in their youthful innocence surprised them. Later I stepped into a local
Celtic shop to ask if they had a kilt hanger and I got into a conversation with
a local police officer, who spoke from experience, about the merits of a good
hanger for such an important purchase and the need to keep the pleats in good
shape; just two of several conversations that I had during my travels today
sparked by the kilt.
To end it all, today was a very humid day and I needed to
consult with a colleague on a project, so I used the Athenaeum lavatory to
change from the kilt and jacket into summer clothing We had our meeting, parted and I stopped at the house
to drop the kilt kit. When I opened the garment bag on the bed to lay
everything out, then put it all away, there was no sporran. While having one of those a mind-panic
conversations that you have with yourself, as you attempt to justify to the
nonexistent passenger in the car why there is no longer a sporran in the house,
I slowly drove through the summer-time crowds who were crossing every street in
town with willful abandon. The city
parking garage placed the “garage is full” sign in the entrance just as I was
ready to use it. Then as I turned down the one-way street that I knew would
hold the one parking space unknown to most people, a car was coming toward me in the
wrong direction. I stopped and shook my head no, as I could not back into the
tourist thronged sidewalks without hitting someone and in the summer, the town
awards no points for hitting potential money spenders. The other car maneuvered
off the street and I saw, then took the parking spot. Once in the Athenaeum I
ran to the third floor to check the tables where we had been working, nothing was
there, and then I remembered the lavatory, and at that moment so did 4 other
people. As I stood talking to another member regretting not skipping the line,
a man came out of the lavatory and asked the woman ahead of him if
she had left her pocketbook, which in all fairness to him with it’s thin
leather strap, the sporran could be mistaken for a small shoulder bag--but it’s
I spoke up and said, “No, that’s my sporran.”
With a look of incredulity, he said, “Your what?”
I said, “My sporran.”
Again he said, “Your what?”
Once more unto the breach, “It’s my sporran.”
And with that I started to put it over my head and arms letting it fall
over my madras shorts, and he said, “Oh, the pocketbook that you wear in front
of the kilt.”
“Yep, that’s it.”
I had it back and could breathe again, when from across the
room came the question, “Which tartan were you wearing this morning?”
“Ancient Campbell,” and to myself, “I’m beginning to feel that
I have never had so much traction from a suit of
I kind of like this.
July 18. Matthew Newsome, the kiltmaker, just sent along some photos he took of the kilt with the pleats finished and the basting stiches applied.
|Ready to go--the pleats are secured with basting stitches|
Each pleat needed to be held in place so that it arrived looking as it should. Now that's detail to attention. Thanks Matt
|A Cascade of Knife-Edge Pleats|
Jeff Hopper is an author, editor and men's wear blogger for SilkDamask. You may catch a glimpse of him in his new "every day wear" walking in downtown Portsmouth!
His earlier post "A Kilt: The Tale of a Plunge" appeared on this blog on December 5, 2012.