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Friday
Jan102014

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

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!

Monday
Mar042013

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?

Monday
Jul022012

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!

Friday
Jun222012

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.)

Friday
Dec092011

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.

Tuesday
Nov292011

John Gray Centre - tartan exhibition & school contest

Our historic and highly-respected D.C. Dalgliesh weaving mill really sets the standards for fine woolens and silks. And to help keep our fragile textiles industry alive we decided to become involved in a Scottish project designed to stimulate interest and involvement of school children in the tartan industry.

The John Gray Centre will open in 2012 in East Lothian, Scotland. It will house an exhibition on Scotland’s weaving industry, featuring lengths of tartan fabric to help illustrate the skill and expertise of past and present weavers.

The display tartans are being designed as part of a competition for children from local primary and secondary schools. Groups of pupils created their setts using Tartan Mill’s advanced design software, helped by retired weavers who were only too happy to share their skills and knowledge. The winning design will be chosen next month by an expert designer and will be woven and donated by D.C. Dalgliesh, ready for display next year when the heritage centre opens its doors.

We were delighted to help with the project and hope that the exhibition encourages others to appreciate the fine skills of Scotland’s traditional artisan industries. To find out more about the John Gray Centre go to: http://www.johngraycentre.org/site/

Tuesday
Aug162011

D.C. Dalgliesh Ltd - how we're moving towards the future

It’s now a few months since we stepped in to rescue this historic weaving mill. Since then we’ve been taking stock of the issues that led to this wonderful business finding itself in such trouble, and what we needed to do to give it a secure future.

The good news is that we’re confident that we can not only return D.C. Dalgliesh to sound health, but build on the mill’s undoubted strengths to make it a very successful enterprise for the modern age. This is great news for anyone who cares about Scottish heritage, as it keeps alive the tradition of wearing your own tartan, which would have become unaffordable for most had this mill been lost. (So if you have to pay a little more in the future, we hope you’ll agree that it’s a price worth paying for your heritage still to survive.)

Rest assured, one thing this will NOT mean will be any significant changes to the artisan production processes that that have given their tartans a reputation as simply the world’s finest quality. Ours is not the cheapest way to produce tartans, but it’s the best. (Ask any tartan expert.) So that will stay just as it is. (Check out the video on the Dalgliesh web site if you’ve not done so yet!)

We will be bringing some big improvements, both on the production side, and to the business operations. In fact we’ve already started to invest heavily in the production, building our yarn range and yarn stocks to levels never before seen. Our intention is to stock a full range of common colours (around 100 shades) all in both our heavy and light weight wools, both for consistency and immediate availability. (Special dying is also available for a surcharge).

We’ll also be bringing some spectacular enhancements to the ordering process, offering a level of custom-specification and customer-friendly convenience offered by no other weaver. All will be revealed in time.

There will also of course have to be some less popular changes… not least, of course, is that prices must rise. We’re keeping the increases as modest as possible, particularly given the soaring price of wool on world markets. And we’re taking the opportunity to simplify and update the trade price list, with lower increases on larger volumes but a bit more on the short lengths that are especially labour-intensive.

Another significant change with immediate effect is that in future D.C. Dalgliesh will be only a trade supplier. Only producers or retailers who are purchasing fabrics for resale or manufacture will deal direct with the mill in the future (which includes individual kiltmakers, making for customers). Other groups or individuals will be asked to approach a retailer (of which we intend to publish a worldwide list on the Dalgliesh site). The only exception will be members of accredited Highland Dance schools, who will still be able to order dance fabrics direct.

Finally, we’ve also now settled on our own business structure moving forward. Our existing “Scotweb” production & retail operation will in future become known as “Tartan Mill” (with a period of transition when we’ll use both names in tandem). And the Scotweb name will increasingly be used to refer to the overall group of companies, including both Tartan Mill and D.C. Dalgliesh. The operations will continue to be run entirely separately, as a producer/retailer and a manufacturer respectively.

Hope all this makes sense! Wish us luck. And we’d still love to ask for your help with raising awareness of the D.C. Dalgliesh weaving mill’s unique speciality - if you can add a link to your own site, it would be much appreciated!

Monday
May022011

Scotland's Last Traditional Tartan Mill is Rescued

D C Dalgliesh tartan weaving millNow here’s some REALLY important news for anyone who cares about Scottish heritage. Nick Fiddes and Adele Telford, owners of Scotweb, have stepped in with a last-minute rescue package to save the D.C. Dalgliesh tartan weaving mill from closure.

Why is this so important? Because if D.C. Dalgliesh had gone to the wall, 90% of tartans would never be woven again. It would have been the end forever of a major Scottish tradition and centuries of specialist skills.

D.C. Dalgliesh Ltd, of Selkirk, Scotland, is the only weaver in the world still producing all its tartans to authentic traditional standards. No other weaver produces tartans of the same quality. And no other mill can weave you just enough for a single garment in your own family tartan, which is what most tartan enthusiasts want.

There’s a new business plan to return it to health. But we really need everyone’s support to ensure the mill survives for future generations. So we need YOU and everyone who cares about Scottish traditions to rally round and spread the word about this remarkable little gem. We don’t need your money. We just need you to help spread the word about D.C. Dalgliesh and their wonderful products. So please visit the D.C. Dalgliesh Supporters page to find out how.”

Why D.C. Dalgliesh Tartans are unique

D.C. Dalgliesh…

  • weave any tartan in short lengths (from four yards). Tartan enthusiasts want their own family tartan, not just the best-selling popular designs made by bigger mills. A single skirt or kilt can be woven in any tartan.

  • weave only on traditional shuttle looms giving fabrics a traditional natural or ‘kilting’ edge. This gives the ‘cut cloth’ bottom that an authentic kilt should always have, impossible to achieve on modern high-speed looms.

  • produce more densely-woven fabrics than the larger mills giving a more lustrous finish, crisper pleating and better durability than other kilts.

  • weave in heavier yarns than is normal elsewhere, for a premium quality. The mill uses 11oz wool for lightweight tartans where other mills typically use 9oz or 10oz, and 15oz for kilting tartans where the norm is 13oz.

  • weave not only pure new wool but also pure spun silk, making them the only specialist weaver of pure spun silk tartans

Friday
Dec102010

Not just another winter

Edinburgh Castle in the snow (copyright)Last winter was the worst many of us could remember. Edinburgh saw ten inches of snow, in a cold snap that lasted a month.

Last week we had thirty inches. Yes, that’s two and a half feet. 75cm. And temperatures in the glens fell to arctic lows below -20C (-4F) and not much higher in the cities - for days on end. It’s the worst freeze since at least the 1960s. And this in a climate that, despite our northerly location, is normally remarkably mild thanks to the Gulf Stream ocean current that skirts our coast.

The result has, in short, been chaos. Hundreds of drivers spent not just one but two nights stranded in their cars on the M8 motorway connecting our two largest cities, which stayed closed for days. Almost half the population (including vital service providers) never got to work. Public transport ground to a halt. Filling stations ran dry. And bread and milk (amongst lots of other things) have disappeared from many shelves. The army has been called in to clear paths to vital services. And there have of course been the inevitable and tragic deaths and injuries.

It’s hit our business too. One of our main courier companies (DHL) announced yesterday (9 Dec) that they were accepting no more parcels for pre-Christmas delivery as their depots are full to overflowing and they cannot shift what they’ve got. Fedex too turned up for their normal daily collection just once within ten days. And the post became a distant memory for days on end. (But despite this, we’re still expecting to fulfill on the vast majority of our christmas deliveries… and we’re still even accepting orders for custom-woven kilts.)

Our customers in Canada and Finland tend to be the least sympathetic. “What’s all the fuss about?” they say. “We get far worse every winter.” Well, yes. But the predictability and duration of your weather means you have an infrastructure to cope with it. You have snow chains for your tyres, and service distribution systems designed around that pattern. But snow chains don’t work for scatterings of snow that normally come and go in a few hours. Normally.

So I’m writing this piece partly just to record how immensely proud I am of our own team. One customer service advisor’s normal 20 minute commute took her three hours. But she got here. Our manager waded through several fields of thigh-high snow to reach a transport axis with anything moving, his own car being buried in drifts. But he got here. We had to implement emergency arrangements to get everyone home when the buses were called back to base. But they got there. In fact I think we lost only one person-day through the whole period (so far) on the first and worst morning.

You might even be asking yourself why. It’s called team spirit. It’s the Christmas season, and we have hundreds of customers anxiously awaiting their special packages from Scotland, to give to their loved ones on that special morning. And none of us want to let them down. This may sound corny. But it’s just how we run our business.

Regretfully we know that some are likely to be disappointed anyway, despite our very best efforts. The courier companies have a lot of catching up to do, so I myself will be driving around the country next week, ferrying boxes between our mills and our manufacturers to try to get everything made, and away, in time. The team will be working seven days, and into the evenings. We’ll upgrade shipping methods at our own expense where we have to. But with the mess so many people’s business systems are in, we know there will be some we just can’t do in time. And to all those we deeply apologise. I hope, having read this, you may just understand.

Wednesday
Dec082010

THIS is why Scotweb is unique

This Christmas, we’d like to show you why Scotweb is unlike ANY other Scottish heritage outlet on earth.

Lots of shops or web sites will sell you a kilt. And some indeed deliver a high quality garment.

But we’ve been monitoring our competitors. Most have already stopped promising Christmas delivery of even ‘stock’ goods. And it’s been weeks already since we’ve seen one guaranteeing to make an authentic kilt to wear on the big day.

But Scotweb? We’re not only taking orders for hand-made kilts (as well as many other garments). We’re still offering our unique woven-to-order service, with hand-sewn kiltmaking, so you can enjoy Christmas Day with you or your loved one wearing a custom-woven fabric in ANY rare tartan of your choice, from over ten thousand patterns!

Yes. For worldwide delivery.

We think we can do so until after this weekend. (It depends on the volume of orders.)

Think about it… Most kiltmakers take 2-3 months for even standard kilts in a small range off-the-shelf tartans - often longer. But we’re offering to especially produce a unique length of woven fabric in any recorded design, made for you by our local artisan weavers, and then have it expertly hand-sewn as a made-to-measure garment. Then we’ll get it to you, wherever you are. All in little more than a week.

And it won’t be hurried. It will still be the same premium quality of fabric, and premium standard of kiltmaking, that you get with every Scotweb kilt.

I hope we’ve made our case. Whether or not you take advantage of this offer, please remember that Scotweb is a company unlike any other. We do it oustandingly well. We do it efficiently. And we do deliver.

With our very best wishes for a wonderful Christmas, from all of us here in wintery Edinburgh.