Over the long week-end, I ran my third minor marathon of surfing in search of a long wool skirt to wear around the house to save some serious heating oil. Now I know why tweed skirts have disappeared from the market: no one feels like paying for one. It’s a pity and a short-sighted crying shame to substitute fossil fuel, capital intensive energy-efficient construction, and ephemeral synthetic clothing for the very real and equally green virtues of an old-fashioned garment that would work as hard in the field as under the roof.
I had a first-quality short Harris tweed A-line skirt in the Sixties, wearing it three or four days a week for ten years until I nibbled my way out of it. It was ten years old when a friend gave it to me, and the thing showed no signs of wear when I passed it along myself. I’ve been studying a Scottish web site that claims to have been the first to market traditional handwoven fabrics on-line.
The site offers every tartan and tweed known to person and will weave to one’s wishes if that’s not enough, in cashmere even. DNA-coded plaid is not universally appreciated, and I was happy to learn that plaids used to be identified by region. This is a good week to have a dream, and I can see a perfect world in which a grunge design joins the official register of tartans along with Vivian Westwood’s. It should, I suppose, be modeled after the cheapest cotton flannel work shirts sold in logging towns, and I’m guessing it could be made up by the local utility kilt company. The Oregon Rodeo weaving mill might very well produce it.
That said, I’m still chewing over commissioning a skirt. I gave up sewing for myself decades ago once I costed out the waste and turnaround time on projects. I understand grunge in a different way this morning: suddenly long johns hanging below the hem of a skirt seem more rational than expedient.
It’s damned sad that a decent basic is so hard to achieve. I surfed Oregon Rodeo looking for a blog photo a while ago and found a couple of historic pictures of tribeswomen skirted in blankets as they tended looms. They looked Balinese but heavily insulated. In my limited research into the history of the kilt, I recall that a fellow would lay a belt on the ground, fold his blanket into pleats and side panels, recline on it, and buckle himself into the fabric for the day. I just may try that with one of Oregon Rodeo’s elegant lap robes, if I can get over feeling weird. Come to think of it, the whole kilt thing is not that different from a sari.
Five generations' keeping house in Western Washington know how to get the job done. Deft Home is the fruit of thirty years’ independent research with casual scholarship, deep-time experience, and no ties to commerce.
Deft home is about doing things the easy way, doing things you won’t get tired of, doing things in little specks of time, and doing things effectively so you won’t have to do them again. It’s also about working with things you already have or have scrounged, about respecting tradition and family legacies, and about making time to enjoy your living quarters. It’s about dignity, self-reliance, and innovation. Especially, Deft Home is about respecting the basics and the labor it takes to keep them right. Hope you enjoy the site as much as I enjoy developing the material.