June – October 2014 @ MoC
Τartans, Harris Tweed, Heather fields, Lochs, Dramatic Skies, Emerald Forests, Deers, Stonehouses etc, Scotland’s palette of earthy tones is a balsam to the soul — at least for the summer! For in winter it gets far too cold, bbrrr…
See more pictures at MoC
September 21, 2014 @ CawdorCastle
We visited few castles too, among which the Cawdor Castle was the loveliest!
“In the Crimson Chamber there is an Crimson velvet bed, with head and foot valances both [gilt-]laced alike, lined with white taffeta, with feathers on the top of the bed, an gilded head in the bed, an feather bed-bolster…”
There is also a pink room and a yellow room. Pictures are not allowed in the castle so we can’t provide any.
September 26, 2014 @ TartansScotland
For the color lover in Scotland, it’s impossible to ignore the traditional Tartans and their rich heritage …
“In the earliest times, tartans such as the “Falkirk” were produced in only the natural colours of the wool. However, the introduction of coloured dyes allowed much more interesting cloth to be produced.
The dyes were produced from lichen, tree bark, plant roots, or from the leaves and berries of plants and trees. The wool was prepared by first washing the wool and removing the oils, and then soaking the wool in an alkaline solution – usually made by adding soda ash prepared by burning seaweed. The washed wool, either before or perhaps after spinning, was then soaked in the dye. To make the dye the plant material was boiled in water, sometimes taking up to 14 days, during which time the dyestuffs would come out into the water. The dyeing was made permanent by adding a chemical “fixer” called a mordant – a metal salt, frequently Alum, Iron, or Copper. In many cases the dye was not formed unless a mordant was included in the boiling process.
When you see how complicated some recipes are it is quite remarkable that they were discovered. Dyeing is frequently a matter of experimenting and chance. The dye-colour that a particular plant produces can depend on the time of year it was picked, the type of soil grown in and where, as well as the climate of the area. The type of mordant, too, can also dramatically alter the colour of the dye. For instance, heather flower tops produce a yellow dye when Alum is used as a mordant, while Chrome produces a much deeper yellow. And dock leaves picked early in the year (February) produce red dye when Chrome is used as mordant, but produce yellow when Alum is used; and when picked later in the year the leaves produce a golden coloured dye when chrome is used as a mordant, while copper produces a green dye, and iron a darker green dye.”
“Tartans have become synonymous with Scotland and Scottish clans and families in particular. However, tartans were originally a style of cloth intended to be decorative. They had patterns that were popular within certain districts of manufacture, they relied on a limited range of colour dyes and were made of the local coarser type of wool.
This has lead to the idea of district tartans being the original association, between the land, the community and its cloth. Where there was a strong clan within a district, as was often the case in the highlands, then visitors from other areas might well have been recognised as of a clan from their tartan. This must have been true of visitors from the Western Isles, for instance. It is this concept of clan tartans that today predominates, but the use of tartan is yet richer.”
“A tartan pattern emerges out of a single list of coloured threads called a thread count. Reading a tartan requires a little practice and involves finding two unique points within the pattern called the pivots. Tartans consist of broader bands of colour called the under check which are often decorated or embellished with narrower lines of colour called the over check. Once the basic possibilities are understood, one can better appreciate designs that combine and extend the simple ideas. The largest group of tartan uses the three-colour design of Black Watch as its basis.”
Read more about the hundreds different types of tartan at Tartans Scotland (see link above)
Another thing the color lover in Scotland can’t miss: the Tweed. Early October we traveled to the Isle of Lewis and Harris (Outer Hebrides). Unfortunately a friend of a friend who happens to be a Harris weaver was not there to show us around at that time but it’s ok (another time maybe); we were lucky to see on our tour to both Lewis and Harris the many sheep grazing freely, see and feel the tweed in many shops, buy a jacket, and purchase the book “From the Land comes the Cloth”, overly happy to have the chance to experience part of this rich Scottish heritage.
Find out more about Harris Tweed exploring their website