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The Thistle by Tartangirl

This is a guest post by Tartangirl.

When you think about Scotland, it is bagpipes, whisky, tartan and kilts, lochs and the Loch Ness monster, the Saltire and surely the thistle that come immediately to mind. But have you ever asked yourself how it comes that the humble thistle is a Scottish emblem ?

There are several legends about how this flowering plant became Scotland‘s symbol but most refer to the battle of Largs in 1263. At this time, the western seaboards and Argyll were under the sovereignty of the Norwegian king Haakon IV. When Alexander III, king of Scotland, offered to purchase the territory and Haakon refused to sell, Alexander launched military operations against the Norse. Haakon replied to the attacks in sending an armed fleet of longships to the west coast, but a heavy storm forced some ships to land on a beach near Largs in Ayrshire. The Norsemen decided to take advantage of the situation and to launch a surprise night attack on a Scottish army‘s encampment.

The legend says that in order to make a silent approach, the soldiers took off their footwear. But one or more barefoot Norsemen stepped upon a thistle and the cries of pain woke the sleeping Scottish who were able to prepare themselves and to fight off the invaders who fled in pain.

There is no evidence that this is the reason why the thistle became the Scottish emblem, but we know that it has been so since the 15th century as it appeared on silver coins in 1470 during the reign of King James III.

Today, the thistle can be seen on everyday objects like towels, napkins, glassware, on tartans, kilt accessories and jewellery to show that the roots of the product are Scottish.

And you have certainly noticed that it is also used in Scotweb’s logo.


How To Care For Cashmere

  1. Always read and follow the garment’s own cashmere care label when washing your cashmere.

  2. We suggest turning it inside-out before washing for extra protection.

  3. When washing by hand, do not rub but instead squeeze the suds gently through the fabric.

  4. Never wring or stretch the fabric in any way, rinse several times in clean lukewarm water until the water runs clear with no trace of detergent.

  5. When washing your cashmere in a machine ensure you use a specialist cashmere or delicates washing liquid. Never wash it at more than 40 degrees, and ideally less, and we suggest avoiding biological detergents. Check the garment’s care label first to ensure that it is suitable for machine washing.

  6. Do not leave your cashmere wet; dry it as soon as soon as possible or odours may develop.

  7. When washed, smooth your cashmere gently back into its original shape. Place it flat on a towel and allow it to dry naturally.

  8. When your cashmere garment is dry it can be gently pressed with a cool iron to remove any creases.


Valentine's Gift Guide for Her

Choosing the right gift for Valentine’s Day can be a minefield. We’re here to help with a few helpful suggestions that we hope will make your job that little bit easier.

Ladies Tartan Brushed Dressing Gown

This dressing gown is perfect for lazy weekends. It’s made from soft brushed cotton tartan and is generously sized for maximum comfort.

Staying with the sleepwear theme, why not treat your partner to a luxury set of Bonsoir pyjamas. These comfortable brushed cotton pyjama sets come in six different tartans.

Harris Tweed Messenger Bag

This miniature take on the messenger bag is super stylish and rather sweet. It’s the perfect size for a day in town or a walk in the countryside.

Luxury Hand Knitted Icelandic Jersey ‘Odin’

This luxury crew neck sweater is hand knitted in a classic Icelandic pattern. Traditionally knitted on needles by our skilled craftsmen throughout Scotland, each beautifully made sweater contains a label with the makers name on it. Made from 100% British wool.


Valentine's Gift Guide for Him

Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to select a really personal gift that your partner will really enjoy.

These warm brushed tartan pyjama trousers by Bonsoir of London Ltd are perfect for cosy evenings snuggling up on the sofa. They’re available in four different tartans to suit all tastes.

Hoggs of Fife Thermal Neoprene Wellies

These wellies are the ideal gift for a partner who likes to be outside. Whether it’s a love of gardening or rambling, they will keep the wearer protected in all weathers and terrains.

Tartan Purse Flask

This beautiful solid pewter flask is made entirely in Scotland. Decorated with traditional Celtic knot work and motifs. The nature and quality of this piece makes it a treasure that will last a lifetime.

Braveheart Tartan Scarf

A great gift for the film lover. This beautiful woollen scarf is made in a specially designed tartan that was produced for the hit film Braveheart and that was worn by Mel Gibson’s William Wallace.

It has been woven from lambswool on the Isle of Islay in a family-owned mill. The mill is very traditional, using two looms that date to Victorian times.

Lambswool V-Neck Sweater

This lovely lambswool knit (made in Scotland) is soft, warm and versatile. It can be worn as part of a smart day to day work ensemble or dressed down with jeans and comfy shoes. Either way it’s a great staple piece for any man’s wardrobe.


How To Create An Authentic Burns Supper

You don’t need to be Scottish to celebrate Robert Burns or hold a supper in his honour. A Burns supper is a way to celebrate the life and work of the famous Bard and usually takes place on or around 25th January, but it’s also a great excuse to gather together family and friends for a good old knees up.

Gather Together

The celebrants gather and mingle, catch up on gossip, and peruse the whisky selection. The chairman or host may make some introductions among the guests, assign some readings, or deliver a few opening remarks.

The Selkirk Grace

The celebrants are called to the table, the host offers an opening grace - traditionally The Selkirk Grace - and the soup course is served. A Scotch broth or cock-a-leekie would be a traditional Scottish choice.

Parade of The Haggis

The parade of the haggis is the evening’s highest bit of pomp. The chef carries the haggis in, followed by the piper. The chef lays the haggis before the chairman at the high table.

Address to a Haggis

A previously designated reciter reads this poem over the haggis. A guid whisky gill is offered to the piper, chef and reciter. The haggis is then sliced open with the finely honed edge of a ceremonial dirk (though any old knife will do).

The meal is then served - Haggis, Neeps and Tatties is the definite favourite and a wee bit of whisky sauce if you’re feeling adventurous. See a selection of popular Burns supper recipes here.


After the meal there is a brief interval while the table is cleared or the celebrants retire to another room for the rest of the evening’s festivities. The chairman needs to keep the guests focused and facilitate the flow of the songs, toasts and poetry that are to follow. Time to refill your glasses!


A good warm-up for the Immortal Memory, a musically inclined guest, or two, may sing a Burns song.

Immortal Memory

The chairman, or designated speaker, delivers the Immortal Memory address. It may be a general, biographical sort of speech, or may address a specific aspect of the Bard’s work that is relevant to the particular group of assembled celebrants. This speech always ends with standing guests, raised glasses and an offered toast to the immortal memory of the Bard of Ayr.

Songs, Music and Readings

Celebrants who have arrived with selections to read take their turn entertaining the others. (It always helps if the chairman has some readings selected for guests who have arrived unprepared or who may need a little encouragement.)

A Toast To The Lassies

A traditional Burns Night ritual, this toast should be a light-hearted lampoon of the lassies’ (few) shortcomings. Warning: Please be tactful! Think groom’s speech at a wedding, a few funny anecdotes is sufficient alongside plenty of praise!

Reply From The Lassies

Always delivered with grace, charm and wit, this savaging of the lads’ crude dispositions and social inferiority is always accepted with good humor by the menfolk present.

Tam o’ Shanter

No Burns Night is complete without a recitation of the great narrative poem.

Closing Remarks From The Chairman

When an end to the festivities has finally arrived the chairman should thank the guests for their attendance, good cheer and high spirits.

Auld Lang Syne

The traditional end to any Burns Night - indeed, an appropriate end to any evening spent among the company of friends - is the singing of this sentimental Scottish song. It always helps to have the correct lyrics printed out for the, by now, groggily satisfied celebrants.


Recipes For Your Burns Supper

The main purpose of a Burns supper is to celebrate the life and work of the Scottish poet, but your Burns supper needs to have some good authentic Scottish food and plenty of whisky if you want to ensure maximum enjoyment. We’ve collated some of our favourite recipes from our own Burns suppers.

Scotch Broth

This traditional Scottish soup is hearty and packed with vegetables. It’s also cheap which is always a consideration if you’re catering for a large supper!

Cock a Leekie Soup

Cock a Leekie is a good alternative to Scotch Broth. We like this one by Edinburgh based chef Tom Kitchin. According to Tom a good stock and fresh vegetables from a farmer’s market are the secret to a good Cock a Leekie.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Haggis, neeps and tatties is the staple of the Burns supper - that’s haggis (sheep or calf offal with suet and oatmeal), turnip and potatoes if you’re not Scottish. It’s a pretty straight forward dish to prepare and a good one for cooking in large quantities.


Clapshot is a simple dish that originates from the Orkneys, it often replaces the neeps and tatties part of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Whisky Sauce

A simple whisky sauce only takes a few minutes to make but it will elevate your simple supper of haggis, neeps and tatties.

Cranachan A good meal requires an indulgent dessert to round it off (and possibly some cheese and port too!) Cranachan is like the Scottish version of Eton Mess, except instead of meringues you use toasted oatmeal, oh and whisky of course.

Clootie Pudding

If you fancy a pudding then look no further than Clootie Pudding - a classic Scottish pudding packed with rich fruit. Serve with cream and more whisky!


7 Steps To Your Own Unique Tartan

Google VP Matt Brittan & our MD in Google colours

1. Why would I want my own tartan?

Here’s why - nothing else shows off who YOU are, like tartan. And no, you absolutely do not have to be Scottish! It’s unique to your family or community, and tells the world with pride. What’s more, it’s beautiful, and a fabulous talking point. (If it’s good enough for Google…)

More and more people are designing new tartans, even if their family already has one! Maybe it’s for an occasion like a wedding… for one family branch… or just because a new pattern or colours would look better.

And for businesses or groups the benefits are endless. Wear it subtly as a tie or scarf, or unmistakably as an entire uniform, tartan brings your people together – visibly! Staff, members, associates, or fans will all love to unite under your colours.

2. Are you allowed to wear it?

That’s easy – you’re allowed. Anyone in the world can register or weave a tartan in Scotland. And there’s literally billions of possible designs, so unless you copy one that’s copyright, you’re fine. New designs are always checked anyway, so no worries.

3. The easy way – ask an expert

If you don’t want the trouble of designing it yourself, you can simply commission a professional such as the experts at DC Dalgliesh to create your tartan for you – which costs much less than people think. Share your ideas, or even just a bit about yourself. And your designer will create a choice of suggestions for you to discuss and change until you love one.

Of course, that would be missing out on the fun of trying your own hand at the design. So read on - as you’ll see, you can’t go wrong! You can also ask an expert designer to look over your ideas at any stage in the process, and they’ll be happy to add their experience to your inspiration!

4. The fun way - design it yourself

In just a few minutes you’ll start to see your ideas come to life on the screen, and even see how it might look as fabric.

What have you got to lose? Even if you only get half way there, you can send your sketches to a professional to turn into the tartan of your dreams – having learned something along the way. You never know, you may discover a hidden talent!

5. Start here - jump in and play

Design your own tartanIt’s incredibly easy to design tartans online.

So where do you start? You don’t have to begin with a blank sheet. Instead, pick any existing tartan from a gallery of thousands, and just play with it for a while! Pull sliders to thicken or reduce lines… drag and drop them to change the sequence… delete, add, or change colours. It will all help give you feel of what works best.

And here’s a bit of a trade secret. Lots of new tartans start just that way! If there’s an existing tartan with meaning for you, why not use it as a starting point? Change the pattern or colours. As soon as it looks different, it’s a different tartan! And this can give your new design historical roots.

6. Get personal - pick your themes

Now for another tip from the pros. It’s often best not just to design randomly, but to work with colours and patterns that carry some significance for you. This could be as your favourite colours, shades that represent your beliefs or traditions, or a company’s corporate colours.

Then think about numbers too. These could come from dates, or just about any numbers that matter to you. But the point is to literally weave these into the fabric by using them in the ‘threadcount’ which is the technical term for the thickness of the lines. Just remember that tartans are traditionally woven in pairs of threads, so numbers are always even.

7. The best bit - order & wear it!

So you’ve settled on a tartan design that you love. Now it gets really interesting!

The sky is the limit when using tartan. (Yes, really… we’ve had tartan on planes and hot air balloons!). It’s surprisingly affordable to get a piece woven, in wool, or silk, or indeed any fabric you like. Then that can be made into almost any garment or accessory you can think of, not to mention homewares, and so on. It costs less than you might think!

Besides, what price can you put on knowing that you’re absolutely the only person in the world wearing a gorgeous fabric that you designed yourself, with history and meaning woven into its every fibre?


D.C. Dalgliesh at Pixar's (Oscar-Winning) Brave Premiere

We had a fabulous night out on Saturday, at the European premiere of “Brave”, Disney-Pixar’s latest blockbuster (ed: winner of the Best Animated Feature category at the 2013 Oscars - is this the first time an Oscar winner has received the treasured statuette wearing a tartan kilt?!) L-R: Director Katherine Saraphian, stars Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, Kelly Macdonald, and Kevin McKidd, and Director Mark Andrews.

As the company’s guests, we enjoyed the full red carpet experience, and loved to see the gorgeous DunBroch tartan created for the movie appearing not just on screen but worn by the stars for the launch as fabulous kilts, sashes, and lots more.

Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, presents the official Dunbroch tartan certificate to Mark Andrews, Director of Disney-Pixar’s BraveThe night began with a reception where Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, presented Director Mark Andrews with a framed certificate testifying to the DunBroch tartan’s official registration, mounted on the fabric itself. We hear this will take pride of place at Pixar, alongside their numerous Oscars!

Nick Fiddes & Adele Telford, Directors of D.C. Dalgliesh LtdThen soon it was over the road to the splendid Festival Theatre, where we hit the red carpet just as the stars were doing their photocall behind us. Since the movie won’t be on general release here until next month I’ll avoid spoilers, but suffice it to say we loved it. The story itself is great fun, and the visuals of course… well, it’s Pixar so no need to say more. But what we were really impressed by, as indigenous Scots, was that we didn’t cringe once! There were plenty of Scottish jokes, of course, but they were the sort we’d make about ourselves, which is quite a feat for Americans! And it was fantastic to see Merida, the heroine, as such a strong role model. Maybe we’re biased, but big ups to all involved.

(L-R) Kevin McKidd, Katherine Saraphian, and Mark Andrews with D.C. Dalgliesh Director, Dr Nick FiddesThe evening brought another smaller reception, mostly for the cast and crew with their friends and families, this time at the Balmoral Hotel. And what really came through for us during this chance for more informal chat with the stars and production team was just how much everyone involved had really come to love the country, and especially raved about having their own tartan to share and wear. It sounds like their Dunbroch kilts and garments will stay firm favourites for a long time to come!

What really came through was something we talk about a lot: the power of tartan to unite groups of people through a strongly visual identity with really positive associations, and to share that with the world to allow anyone else to express that they too feel they belong. It’s not yet clear whether Disney-Pixar will be allowing the DunBroch tartan to go on general sale. As proud Scots, we really hope so!


Get the look: Kate Middleton's Strathearn tartan

Kate Middleton with Strathearn tartanEver since a certain Royal river pageant recently, to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we’ve been deluged by requests for the Strathearn tartan scarf carried by Kate Middleton (or, if you prefer, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus), to complement her stunning red dress by McQueen. Can we supply it? Well, we wove Kate’s at D.C. Dalgliesh so of course we can!

If you want the right colours, it’s Strathearn No.2 Modern you want. And we can supply it either as a artisan hand-woven silk scarf, just like Catherine’s (click that link and the right tartan should be pre-selected) or indeed as a woollen scarf, a skirt, stole, or almost any garment you could think of (click the View All button on the Strathearn tartan page).

The easiest way to order is simply to give us a call! (It’s free from North America and the UK.)


The Ultimate Xmas Present? Give them their own tartan!

This really must be high on the list of perfect presents! It’s very personal. It’s long-lasting. It’s utterly unique. And it’s something they’ll love creating, sharing, and simply enjoying…

You can now give someone you truly love (or want to impress) a voucher for the creation of their very own, entirely unique tartan. (Or maybe you know someone you could drop hints to yourself?)

The lucky recipient can design their new tartan online, using our unique Tartan Designer feature. Or you can add on the option of expert assistance, so all they have to do is suggest the colours and any ideas they’d like to go into it, and we’ll do the rest.

The gift includes a generous eight yard length (enough for a kilt, or a skirt and accessories) of the finest pure new wool tartan, produced by D.C. Dalgliesh Tartan Mill, Scotland’s last specialist artisan tartan weavers. Or you can request finest pure spun silk if you prefer!

You can even include our help with having the design formally recorded by the official Scottish Tartans Register, so the design will be recognised forever.