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Monday, October 22, 2007

Report from Stone Mountain

As promised, a post with kilt pics! We have returned from the 35th Annual Stone Mountain Highland Games, a little road weary but none the worse for wear. It was another banner year for the museum. We were able to assist many people in finding a tartan, answered many Highland dress questions, and had a successful sales weekend for the gift shop, as well.

We had many people comment on the quality of our merchandise, telling us that we had the nicest offerings of the varied vendors at the Games. This is always nice to hear! I have endeavored to have the name of the Scottish Tartans Museum associated with quality Highland wear, so it is nice to know that folks notice.

We were so busy on Saturday that I quite literally only left our tent twice (both for reasons of, shall we say, necessity). Sunday was a little less hectic, and I did take the opportunity to walk around a bit Sunday morning and see some of the sights. I got to chat a bit with Larry Long (famous on this blog for his unusual kilt, featured here); Flora MacDonald Gammon and John Dall; the good folks with the Scottish Spinning and Weaving Society (Marge Warren and Betty Johnson); Rennie & Vicki McLeod, of Scotpress; Henry & Rebbecca Scott, of Purple Heather Pottery; the crew of Caledonian Fine Arts, and others. I took my wee son Alister out for a walk and he got more attention than anything. Of course I don't mind being outshone by my offspring!
On Saturday, I did get a chance to talk a bit with Tom Mungall, owner of the Scottish Attire mailing list. He introduced me to his son, Jamie, and later during the day I got to meet a friend of his, and fellow Scottish Country dancer, whose name I cannot recall but who was wearing an Elliott tartan. (He commented on the fact that I was sporting an Armstrong crest shirt, and that we were fellow border reivers). I also ran into a few other Scottish Attire list members, such as Pam Brownlee and Jim Lovelace.

I also met several X-Markers (from, including Jim Lovelace (Cawdorian), John Miller (shiner), Turpin Ballard, and several others I just can't recall at the moment. Between talking to everyone, measuring for kilts, and answering questions, Saturday was rather a blur! Sorry I wasn't able to make it for the X-Marks photo shoot -- and I understand that there was quite a dinner gathering Saturday evening.

Lest I forget, I had the distinct pleasure to meet with Kathy Lare, kiltmaker from New Mexico, and her husband. Kathy is quite the elegant and well-spoken lady, and I feel privileged to have made her acquaintance. Everything that Ron MacDonald says about her is absolutely true! (Ron is another X Marks member who must have a dozen of Kathy's kilts -- his photo is on her web site).
Then there were all the friends, familiar faces, and regular patrons that we enjoy seeing each year at Stone Mountain, whose names are too numerous to mention.
Even though the museum tent was a very busy place the whole weekend, we were able to handle it all smoothly thanks to our wonderful help. So thanks to our museum staff, which -- aside from myself -- consists of Ronan MacGregor and Kathy Akins; our spouses who volunteer to help us for the weekend, Joannie, Mary, and Jim; and especially those volunteers who help out even though they are not married to us, Chuck Coburn, Ryan Ross and Bisel McWilliams. We couldn't do it without you (or wouldn't want to, anyway!).

Enough chat -- here are the pictures! Regrettably, I did not have the presence of mind to snap shots of many of the fine folks I met. So you'll have to put up with mainly photos of myself and some of my crew.

Here is a shot of the front of our museum tent. We had some shirt and hat racks out front. At certain times during the day the crowd was so thick I could barely see these racks from the tent! Right inside we showcased some lovely sporrans from the Ferguson Britt collection (including a Japanese Fallow deer, and several skunk, beaver, and raccoon fur creations). These were very much admired. The left side of the tent was dedicated to free tartan searches and answering questions on Scottish history and Highland dress.

This photo of myself with my wife, Joannie, and son, Alister, was from Saturday. Alister was a big hit at the Games. Our other kids all stayed home with the grandparents, but Alister is too young yet to be that far from his mom (and main food source!). He was an angel all weekend.

Of course, as we know, it's all about the kilt. I'm wearing a four yard box pleated kilt in the Armstrong tartan, red kilt hose (I knew I'd be seeing Tom, who didn't disappoint by wearing his own red hose), matching red garters, my beaver fur sporran, one of the new crest shirts from the museum, and a hand knit broad bonnet.

I think red hose look nicest with tartans like the Armstrong, that are primarily blue & green, but with a minor red element that the hose can really pull out. I think with a predominantly red kilt, the red hose risk being too much.

This is Chuck Coburn (left) wearing the Cockburn tartan in a four yard box pleated kilt, and Jim Akins (right) wearing his brand new Confederate Memorial tartan, in an 8 yard knife pleated kilt made by Barb Tewksbury, author of The Art of Kiltmaking.

Here are Chuck and myself on Sunday. My wife, who didn't tell me my tie was crooked, took the picture. I'm in another four yard box pleated kilt, in the St. Columba tartan. I'm wearing it with a light weigh Lochcarron Argyle jacket, tattersal shirt, blue tie (notice the matching garters), and my brand new shepherd's check hose that my wife just finished knitting for me. (The medal I'm wearing is my Guild of Tartan Scholars medal, in case you are wondering).

Chuck is in a blue Harris Tweed kilt that I made for him (also a four yard box pleat). Here's a rear shot to show the pleats.

I'm really thrilled with these hose! They took my wife quite some time to knit, and she was using a new pattern from a book she recently acquired. She finished them just in time for the Games (literally on the drive down). I'm quite pleased with the color and design (I chose a natural cream shade and a dark brown). I had several compliments on them throughout the day, and not a few enquiries about where one could get a pair, or how much my wife would charge to make them (I had to marry her -- get your own talented wife!). :-) Joking aside, she made these for me as a labor of love. When asked how much she would charge to make a pair for someone else, her price quote was "a million bajillion dollars." So start saving your coin -- or learn to knit!

Sunday is always the hardest day, just in terms of stress. We are exhausted from Saturday to begin with. My wife and I got up early to make it to a 7:00 am Mass before heading back onto the field. Then it is all day at the Games, just like on Saturday. Only instead of heading out to dinner after the field closes, we must pack up our tent and drive three hours home. Someone suggested I could retire from this line of work and find another job -- not on your life! :-)

The museum was closed today, as well, for unpacking, re-stocking, and inventory. Tomorrow (Tuesday) we will resume normal hours of operation (10 to 5, Mon-Sat). For those of you who may have come by to see us in Franklin over the weekend, we are sorry we missed you. And for those of you who saw us at the Games, we'll see you next year!


ern malcolm said...

Really like the St. Columba tartan kilt, Matt. I'm looking foward to getting mine!
ern malcolm
mael coluim of Virginia

Glen McMurdo Allardyce said...

Looks like it was great fun for all, great picture of you and Joanne with Alister, you must be a very happy father. Thanks for the report, the St. Columbia really is a striking tartan, and those million gagillion dollar hose really set it off.

Arlen said...

Looks like you all had a wonderful time, Matt.
Congratulations on all the sales and having such a well behaved bairn!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing what looks like was a great weekend. I like the matching red hose and flashes, looking sharp as ever.



Jarod said...

Very cool. Thanks for posting the pics.

Kyle said...

Dear Matthew,

I was wondering about the (light) blue bonnet you're wearing in the picture with your wife and child. You call it hand-knit... did your wife make it? If so, can you recommend a pattern? Or is it commercially available?

I'm a newbie to your blog, which I love. I *will* be ordering a kilt some day, it might just be a little while. Your work is beautiful.

Kyle MacLea