Thursday, July 01, 2010

A Rare Old Scots Lowland Plaid

I've only ever come across one of these before - most of them have been so well used that they don't survive or are cut up for dog blankets - but I sourced this here in Ayrshire, which seems fitting, since it's exactly the kind of thing poet Robert Burns might have worn. It actually looks rather as though he DID wear it, as well, since it has so many holes, and has been darned so often over the years! It is a traditional hand woven woollen, lowland Scots plaid, in cream and black check - very large indeed at 42 inches by 120 inches. It's what Burns meant when he spoke of rolling a lassie 'in his plaidie' and seemingly Jean Armour noticed him because he wore his plaid differently from the other lads, as well as tying his hair in a fashionable way - a stylish young man, our Rab!

Often, when I'm handling an old textile, I find myself really wishing that they could talk. Well, they do talk, in a way. Each piece has its own story and it's possible to do your research, and to find out something about that history. Also, wearing my other hat, as a writer, I always find myself imagining what the tale of each individual textile might be. But sometimes it would be very nice to know exactly what went on - who wove this, and where, who wore it, where he lived, what he looked like...
Meanwhile, another bit of news. I'm trying to persuade a friend who is a wonderful interior designer, with a real flair for these things, to do the occasional guest post on upcycling with old textiles. She has more brilliant ideas than anyone else I know, so watch this space for more possibilities.

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