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I love tartans!  As a weaver, I love textiles in general . . . but, tartans fascinate me and I believe my love of tartans may have to do with the British components of my DNA . . . after all, like thousands and thousands of people around the world; I’m a distant relation to many in Great Britain . . . including Queen Elizabeth II (my 12th cousin) and King Henry VIII (my 16th cousin).  But, rest assured, I don’t condone beheading . . . although, an invitation to the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year would have been nice.  Anyway, since I doubt my heritage is of interest to many people, let’s get back to tartans.

Tartan fabrics have a long history and many have fascinating stories.  Information about tartans can be found at http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/tartan-history.html.  Plus, in my opinion, a kilt can be one of the sexiest garments a man can where.    If your family has a tartan, it can make you feel a connection to generations long ago.  But, even if you don’t have a family tartan, designing one can provide the following:

  • A fun way to pass some time when you are in need of a diversion
  • Easy experimentation with the interlacement of different color combinations . . . such as a color palette from Colourlovers.com (the first of my favorite things on this blog)
  • A great way to observe how proportion of colors influence the overall appearance of a fabric
  • A method to understand Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 200 year-old theory of color intensity and how a little addition of an intense color goes a long way.  (You can learn more about von Goethe’s theory at http://www.framedreality.com/color-in-photography-color-theory . . . you just need to scroll down about 2/3rds of the way down the page ).

At first designing a tartan may seem rather ominous . . . from choosing the colors . . . deciding the order of the colors . . . whether certain colors will be repeated . . . how much of each color to include . . . and whether the tartan pattern will be symmetrical or asymmetrical.  Fortunately, there are on-line tartan design tools that are just a click away and below are three to choose from.

House of Tartanhttp://houseoftartan.co.uk/interactive/weaver/index.html

The on-line tartan design tool at House of Tartan takes you through several screens . . . starting with selecting your colors and then moving on to placing them in order and finishing with the number of ends for each color.

Tartan Makerhttp://www.tartanmaker.com/

Tartan Maker makes it easy to design a tartan on a single screen.  It may not be the most robust tartan-design tool, but it’s simple to use.

Tartan Designer at Tartan Generatorhttp://www.tartangenerator.com/tartan/

Tartan Designer provides a digital shelf of yarns above the tool.  Select what you like, adjust the number of threads, and see what you come up.

Now, what if you design a unique and distinctive tartan?  Did you know you can register it?  To learn more about registering a tartan, check out The Scottish Register of Tartans at http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/.  Someday I would love to design a tartan for my husband and register it.  His mother’s family were Scottish descendants, but I’ve never located a tartan for them.  Until then, I can still entertain myself with designing tartans to see the limitless possibilities.

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Comments on: "These are a few of my favorite things – Designing a Tartan" (3)

  1. Laura Cunningham said:

    My Dad’s family originated in Wales (my maiden name is Cole), and fought as mercenaries for the McDougals. As a result, the Coles were given the right to wear that tartan. My Mom’s Grandmother was a Dunbar. My ex-married name is Cunningham, and their hunting tartan is really beautiful. I’d love to weave it someday…

    I’ll have to play with the generators you provided – they look like a lot of fun!!

    • Thank you for sharing, Laura! Looking at tartans can really generate some fascinating peeks at history. I looked up the Cunningham hunting tartan and it is beautiful . . . although, I’m rather partial to the Royal Stewart tartans.

  2. Thanks for writing about three of my favorite things – ancestors, tartans, and men in kilts! Interesting that you have Tudor ancestors – I am descended from the Plantaganets!

    Now to go make a tartan!

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