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Stories from House of Tartan
The old ones are always the best

James ScarlettWell, Alastair, you are not the only one gadding about Scotland this week. Hot on the tartan trail, Brian Wilton (the Scottish Tartans Authority man) and myself were up at Moy near Inverness to visit a most knowledgeable man about tartan. James Scarlett, at 83 years old, still champions the cause, and he was interested to hear about the latest developments in computer technology, and to inspect a beautiful piece of 200 year old weaving that recently arrived from Canada. Presented to the Tartans Authority in Canada in 2003 by a Jean Hunter from Huntsville Ontario who had been given it by her Father the Rev. George W. Hunter - a minister in Aberdeen. The piece is a shawl 6ft 6inches long by 19inches wide and is what is known as a hard, superfine tartan using typical Wilson of Bannockburn colours. The sett is selvedge to selvedge full repeat and the weave is 52epi. The sett is complex with 8 colours and 67 colour changes. Embroidered into the end of the shawl is "Donnald 1775"

As we poured over swatches and samples, Jamie Scarlett regaled us with tales of his current tartan design work and his plans for the future. But at 83, he makes no bones about it, he wants to pass on his knowledge before its too late.

This means I am duty bound to keep passing on these odd snippets of tartan lore through the Electric Scotland pages, and any questions I cannot answer, I will pass on the my new friend.

All the best,

Blair Urquhart

James Scarlett, author of many books on tartan, now aged 83, inspects 200 year old tartan sample at his home near Inverness.

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