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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Order Hiatus - an update

As can be seen on my main website, I have, since September of last year, put a hold on taking new kilt orders.  The primary reason is to allow me to catch up on my large backlog of orders.  For some time, the rate of new kilt orders coming in has outstripped the rate at which I can make them, leading to extended wait times for my customers (which neither they nor I are happy about).

This temporary hold is allowing me to remedy the situation by working through current outstanding orders without new orders being added to the back end of my order queue faster than I can turn new kilts out.

So far it is working.  My kilt order queue is currently stands at 18 kilts.  For years now it has been in excess of 30 kilts at any given time, so I am quite happy to see the smaller number.

However, it is slow going.  As most of my followers are aware, kilt making is not my full time job. While a full time kilt maker may be able to complete a kilt in 2 or 3 working days, my working days are spent tending to other duties.  Other aspects of the business are growing -- the House of Cheviot kilt hose we offer are becoming increasingly popular -- so the handling of those areas are taking up more of my time.  I am also making a pointed effort to spend more time in domestic pursuits, spending time with my wife and children, and tending to our smallholding where we raise the rare Soay sheep (from St. Kilda) and other small livestock.  These are all good pursuits, but limit the amount of time I can spend in my workshop sewing kilts.

Once years ago I was able to dedicate several hours each day to kilt making.  With the current demands on my schedule, I am generally able to only spend one full day per week making kilts, along with a few hours in the evenings during the week.  Kilt making is something I very much enjoy and still plan on pursuing, albeit on a more limited scale than in the past.  Circumstances may again change such that I will be able to dedicate more time to kilt making, but for the foreseeable future, it will remain on a smaller scale.

With that in mind, once I am able to resume taking orders, I plan on simplifying things to return to my roots and settle back into my "niche," as it were.  I started making kilts in 2004 by exclusively making four yard box pleated kilts, in the style of the early 19th century.  This is still what I am best known for.  Over the years, people have requested other styles of kilts, and I have sought to accommodate those requests as much as possible.  When I resume taking orders, my plan at this time is to make only two styles of kilt -- the four yard box pleated kilt (early 19th cent), and a six yard knife pleated kilt (late 19th cent).  If a customer requires a more modern style full eight yard kilt, I will source these through third party kilt makers, but that will not by my main focus.  I do not plan on offering waistcoats, sashes, plaids, jackets, sporrans, belts, etc., except on a case-by-case basis.

I will only be making kilts from heavy weight 16 oz or regimental weight 18 oz cloth, which I will obtain from one of three mills in Scotland -- Lochcarron, House of Edgar, and D. C. Dalgliesh.  Why these three mills?  Put simply, they supply the quality cloth I require for my kilts and otherwise meet my needs.  I will occasionally get requests to make kilts using cloth from other mills.  There are certainly other good mills out there.  I choose to work with these three for a few simple reasons:

  1. I prefer to only use cloth woven in Scotland; all three of these mills weave their cloth in Scotland.
  2. All three of these mills meet my quality standards.
  3. I require a wide selection of tartans in 16 oz cloth; between the stock holdings of Lochcarron and House of Edgar, and the custom weaving services of D. C. Dalgliesh, I can supply most all tartans my customers need.
  4. Each company is able to respond to my emails within a day or two -- this may seem like a minor point, but it is essential!
  5. I have been doing business with each company for more than a decade and have been happy with their services.
So, while I know there are other wonderful mills out there producing tartan cloth, I have no inclination at this time to branch out.  In the interest of keeping things simple, I prefer to continue to do business with a few companies that have proven track records with me of high quality and good service.  If you are having tartan woven by a different mill and wish me to make your kilt, I will continue to offer CMT kilt making services with customer supplied cloth on a case-by-case basis.

Now the big question:  When will I resume taking orders?
The short answer is, I don't know.  But it will happen.  I am starting to get more frequent emails asking if I plan on taking new orders soon.  I still need to get my order queue down before I am comfortable doing that.  And frankly, I don't know how long that will take.  But I am working on it.  In the meantime, I cannot reply to every individual email asking when I will be taking new orders.  Nor will I be starting a "waiting list" for new orders.  If I were  able to do that, I might as well be taking orders currently, as that is what a "waiting list" would amount to -- essentially more backlog of orders.  

When I am ready to take new orders, there will be an update on my web site -- and yes, you can expect prices to go up, unfortunately -- and I will be announcing it on our Facebook Page.  I will also announce it with a blog post here.  But the best way to know will be to follow our Facebook Page so that you will see the notification when it happens.  

Once I do resume taking orders, my plan is to keep a close eye on the order numbers and put periodic holds on new orders (hopefully shorter than the current hiatus) so that I don't get so far behind on current orders.  

Finally, on a semi-unrelated matter; I sometimes get asked about my participation on the X Marks the Scot forum.  I used to spend a lot of time on the forum and post with regularity.  I no longer do, and recently have ceased advertising with them.  Some people have contacted me to see if I am OK, or if any sort of falling out has occurred.  The answer is yes, I am OK, and no, there has been no falling out.  I simply have much less time available these days to spend on forums.  The fact is that I don't participate in any on-line forums.  I pulled my advertising simply because it seemed a waste to pay for advertising during a period when I was not actively taking orders.  There really is nothing more to it than that.  

So, in summation, yes, I am still alive.  Yes, I am still making kilts.  Yes, I am working my way (slowly) through my order backlog.  And yes, I will be taking new orders in the future but no, I don't know precisely when that will be.  And no, I'm not starting a waiting list for new orders.  If you need to contact me with any questions about a current order, please do so via email.  If you don't hear back from me within a day or two, please email me again with a reminder.  And thanks for your patience!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

MacMillan tartan, Wilsons' colors

I took delivery of a length of custom woven MacMillan tartan today, in the historic Wilsons of Bannockburn color pallette.  Nice!

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A few photos

As usual, I've been too busy to blog much lately, but wanted to share these photos to show that we're still busy creating and shipping out some wonderful and unique Highland dress items!

Here are a pair of Colquhoun kilts -- oddly enough, made for two different, unrelated clients.  The one on top is reproduction Colquhoun from DC Dalgliesh.  It's a four yard box pleated kit that shipped out with a matching tartan waistcoat (not pictured).  Then below it is the cloth for an ancient Colquhoun kilt.  The cloth was supplied by the client, but I believe it was Lochcarron woven.  That was made up into a six yard box pleated kilt.

The above two photos are of a four yard box pleated kilt in the 42nd band tartan, Wilsons of Bannockburn historic colors.  This tartan is the same as the Black Watch, with the black replaced with red.  I love the pleat detail shot, which shows the nearly invisible hand stitching!

Let's not forget about the knitwear!  Here is a lovely pair of grey and white shepherd check kilt hose hand knit by my wife for a client who saw a photo of me wearing my hand knit hose and just had to have a pair.

And finally, the most recent creation to leave our workshop - a formal waistcoat in the Polaris tartan.  Note the collar, and the cloth covered buttons.  It's all in the details!