The Three Days that Saved the World (part two)



John Muir was born in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland in 1838 and emigrated with his family to the United States of America in 1848. Throughout his life he developed an ever-growing fondness for wild places and wild creatures. Largely self-taught this son of East Lothian became a poet, philosopher, preacher, inventor and mountaineer, as well as an expert in the fields of botany and geology.

His journeys into the vast wilderness of 19th.Century America brought him to discover the oneness and order of the natural world in which ‘every rock, plant and animal is a golden thread in the infinite fabric of life, and from which no fibre can be pulled without spoiling the whole.’

‘When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with all the other stars, all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty. This show is eternal.’

This extraordinary man, regarded today as the ‘Father of Conservation’, was truly ahead of his time. His passionate concern for the future of our planet, allied to a unique clarity of thought and expression, enabled him to influence the world’s most powerful men through his writing. It seems extraordinary by today’s standards but he persuaded the then President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, to join him on a three-day excursion into the wilderness of Yosemite. It’s believed to be the only time in US history that a President has been without his Secret Service bodyguard. Together they explored the, mountains, forests and rivers of the Sierra Nevada; they hugged trees in a lightning storm and slept under the stars. Roosevelt left Yosemite a convert to the idea of conservation.

‘Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of the safety and continuance of the nation.’

America must have seemed like a bounty of infinite resource to the early settlers, but 19th C industrialisation and exploitation were already beginning to take their toll on the natural environment. It was to be several years before the National Parks Service Bill was signed and passed into law “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations”, but one can only imagine with horror how America, and perhaps the rest of the planet, might look today had the exploitation of its resources continued unabated throughout the 20th C. John Muir’s legacy in the form of America’s sixty-two National Parks is there for all to see and enjoy, and his thoughts and writings have encouraged conservation worldwide thanks to those three days in the wilderness.

The US Congress passed legislation on June 8, 1872 that approved government production of postal cards, and the first government-produced postcard was issued on May 1, 1873.

Although not on this format, the following words were written by President Roosevelt to John Muir a few weeks after he returned to Washington.


The John Muir tartan was created in 1998 by David McGill for the 150th anniversary of John Muir’s arrival in the United States and was launched at a reception in the San Francisco Bay area City of Pleasanton in 2002 when Muir’s grand-son accepted an inscribed tartan clock and picture frame on behalf of the Muir family. It is registered on the Scottish Tartan Register No.2682




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Superbowl LIV between San Francisco ‘49ers and Kansas City Chiefs in the Hard Rock Stadium in Florida a few weeks ago was not only one of the greatest comebacks in Superbowl history, but the first-ever all-tartan final. Congratulations to Kansas City Chiefs and commiserations to San Francisco.

missouri tartan#

Missouri Tartan

san francisco tartan

The San Francisco Tartan

The McBRAYER tartan


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Behind the McBrayer tartan is the remarkable story of Tim Bruce Sanders and his family and what they are attempting to do on their farm in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in a remote corner of Kentucky. Their website is well worth a visit –

From a fragment of ancient cloth in the archives of the Scottish Tartans Authority, International Tartans has been able to reproduce the McBrayer (McBrier) tartan in honour of their grandfather Ichabod McBrayer. The design will be used for labelling a wide range of local produce in the farm shop, and the cloth itself will be used by local craftworkers to make a range of hand-made tartan accessories for sale in the gift shop.

This unique social enterprise will be run in strict accordance with the ‘Land Ethic’ outlined by American environmental philosopher and naturalist Aldo Leopold:

”The Land Ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively, the land.”

Aldo Leopold was a professor of wildlife management who was pivotal in the designation of Gila National Forest in New Mexico in 1924 as America’s first national wilderness area. Leopold introduced the concept of this land ethic, arguing that humans should transform themselves from conquerors of nature into citizens of it. In this, he was extending the preservationist philosophy of John Muir (1838–1914), founder of the Sierra Club and known as the father of conservation. Without men such as these, there might not be a planet left to save today. 


The McBRAYER Tartan





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Could our ancestors ever have imagined that the royal and ancient game of golf, a game invented and developed over five hundred years ago in Scotland, home to the world’s ruling body and so many world-famous courses, would ever become so popular? Perhaps. What they could never have foreseen though is that citizens of a nation-state which was only formed some 70 years ago on the other side of the world, would become so successful at playing it. Except they have and they haven’t.

Having three players in the ‘Top 100’ of the World Ranking List is no big deal. Even Scotland has one! But what would really astonish our ancestors, and has many of the ‘elite’ in the hallowed halls of our most prestigious clubs spluttering into their gin and tonics is that one country has thirty-seven nationals in their ‘Top 100’. I am course referring to the women of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA), a species of golfer which was not even allowed inside certain clubhouses until recently. I wonder what would old Willie Auchterlonie make of the fact that there are more South Korean women called Lee (10) and Kim (7) in the ‘women’s Top 100’ than there are men from England, Scotland Ireland and Wales combined (14) in the male equivalent? Jings! (Just for the record Jings, thank goodness, is not a South Korean name. It’s Chinese).

I wonder how many of these elegant young women will be sporting the South Korean tartan on the course this season. Keep a sharp lookout.

south korea tartan

And another thing. Congratulations from Scotland to Boon Jong-Ho, Director and Co-writer of ‘Parasite’ the film which picked up four awards at the 92nd Academy Awards recently. This South Korean production is the first-ever foreign-language film to win the Oscar for Best Picture. A South Korean tartan tie is on its way to Boon Jong-Ho to mark the occasion.


Last October Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government in the Scottish Government led a delegation to the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa. Amongst the delegates was Hazel Smith, CEO of ReTweed, International Tartans’ main supplier of tartan accessories.

International Tartans supplied ReTweed with a length of Ethiopia tartan which they made into ties, scarves and plaid brooches to take as gifts. Their Ethiopian hosts were astonished and delighted to be given something that carried the colours of their national flag.

Neil Munro, an environmental scientist now based in Addis Ababa formerly worked in Sudan. When in Khartoum he helped form the Khartoum Caledonian Society which adopted the Sudan tartan. Although kilts were made in Scotland the Caledonian Society used local craftworkers to make a range of accessories with a view to establishing a job-creating social enterprise. Upon hearing of the Ethiopia tartan, Neil immediately ordered Ethiopia tartan products for his fellow Scots and is currently trying to establish a Caledonian Society in Addis Ababa. Such is the universal versatility of Scotland’s ‘international calling-card’ it can be used as a unifying force for good and for promoting Scotland almost anywhere in the world.

Although these are tiny steps on a long road towards the level of international co-operation that will be needed if we are to ensure our planet is fit for generations to come, it is a start and a welcome one.

The ROYAL NAVY Tartan – ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’


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The design of the Royal Navy tartan encompasses those colours historically associated with the Senior Service: red, white and blue for the various ensigns, royal purple for its title, and all in a setting of navy blue: the sea, the endless sea.

As such it is intended to provide a common bond between ‘sailors’ regardless of rank, and identity for informal occasions, and even everyday wear.

It is, however, more than just a symbol of brotherhood/sisterhood. International Tartans operates a policy of sharing and caring by contributing to ‘good causes’ with a nautical background.

The Royal Navy tartan

Registered with the Scottish Tartans World Register No. STWR 2840



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The title of the design is taken from the universal anthem of the same name, and is intended to provide a common bonding theme for democratic socialists worldwide in keeping with the concluding line of the chorus: ‘The Internationale unites the human race’. The design itself can be reproduced to give that common theme a unique physical identity in the form of tartan. Although at times misused and cheapened, tartan has a broad popular appeal to people of all countries and is instantly recognisable.

An appropriate choice of colours in a tartan can give it a yet more specific identity – in modern parlance, a brand, and over time, by repetition, a recognisable brand. The colours for the Internationale tartan have been chosen to reflect those linked to the socialist movement, but with fashion in mind, by retaining their traditional red and (part) yellow colours, but in the softer tones implied in the battle-hymn of the Suffragettes: Bread and Roses.

‘As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day 
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts grey 
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we go marching, marching, we’re standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life’s glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.

Illustrated below is an example of the best-selling item in Scotland’s tourist shops – the lambswool scarf: useful, stylish, light and comfortable to wear, and affordable.

At £20.00 (inc P&P) these exclusive tartan scarves make an ideal gift for family and friends, or maybe you just want to treat yourself. A donation of £5.00 from each sale will be made to local food banks. Get in touch to order one at or click here.

The Tartan is Registered No. 11376 on the Scottish Tartans Register

internationale tartan

The ETHIOPIA tartan and the Nobel Peace Prize


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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Abiy Ahmed Ali, President of Ethiopia, “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.” The next initiative he says is to unite the 80 or so tribes and ethnic groups that make up the 105 million population in one of the world’s oldest and poorest countries.

The flag of Ethiopia uses the colours red, yellow and green, which have come to be known as the ‘Pan-African’ colours, and have been adopted into the flags of a dozen other nations. The Ethiopia tartan comprises these, along with the central blue circle and gold pentagram, to create a unifying symbol that embodies an entire nation. The unique qualities of tartan are such that this ‘national’, inter-tribal symbol can be used in a wide variety of ways and forms from every-day and ceremonial clothing and accessories, to giftware and printed paper goods.

Alache Malia Ode OBE, lecturer in International Development at Birkbeck College, University of London described each of the designs in the ‘tartans for Africa’ range as

Tartans that inspire self-pride, a kind of cultural connectivity that is positive by using a product from one culture to infuse cultural relevance in another. In a subtle way, it represents the entirety of what multiculturalism, interculturalism or whatever ‘isms’ seek to achieve.’

The world recognises tartan as Scottish in origin, but gifting this unique design to Ethiopia at a time when it is once again in the international spotlight can only highlight the ‘ism’ of our common humanity in a way that benefits both nations.

To celebrate President Abiy Ahmed Ali’s achievement International Tartans have created a unique gift in the Ethiopia tartan which will be sent to the Ethiopian Embassy in London for forwarding to Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopia tartan on display at ‘Tartans for Africa’ fashion show:

ethiopia tartan

United by the Tartan – Scotland vs Japan Rugby World Cup 2019


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On Sunday, the 13th of October, Scotland plays against Japan in their final group match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It’s all to play for as only the winners will qualify for the quarter-finals of the knock-out stage.

The as-yet-undefeated Japanese team known as the ‘Sakuras’ have been sensational so far beating world No 1 Ireland in their opening match and following up with wins against Russia and Samoa.

Japanese fans all over the world are gearing up for the occasion. This image shows three lovely young Japanese girls in Edinburgh dressed in their Sakura tartan outfits. It’s just a pity that they-re not playing in the front row for Japan! Or are they?

sakura taran

Bordersbags – bags with heart and soul


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As we venture ever further into this great ocean of madness that has gripped our daily lives, every now and then we come across a little island of sanity that gives us hope. It may be small, tiny in fact in the great scheme of things, but hopeful nevertheless.


ReTweed is one such island: a social enterprise based in the picturesque town of Eyemouth on the Berwickshire coast where women are being trained in the traditional crafting skills, in what once the heartland of Scotland’s textile industry. Run by a small highly-efficient management team and staffed by dedicated volunteers, some sixty-four women of all ages have completed a certificated course which has given them the qualifications and skills needed to enter the world of work. It has also given them a unique opportunity to work as individuals and as part of a team. For me, a visit to ReTweed’s workshop in Eyemouth’s High Street is a happy few hours amongst happy people.


International Tartans has worked closely with ReTweed for the last three years. What began as a donation of scraps of tartan has developed into a commercial relationship in which ReTweed have supplied us with a wide range of tartan accessories for customers in over a dozen countries. We are currently working on the development of new products, but this latest venture by ReTweed is entirely their own. Bags are just bags you might say, but Bordersbags takes them to a new level. Made by graduate trainees from surplus curtain material these simple, practical Tote bags give everyone the opportunity to do something positive. As one supporter remarked:

“What a fantastic initiative, combining lots of really positive work in one amazing project! Supporting women, developing skills, bringing communities together, supporting entrepreneurs, reducing waste to landfill and reducing plastic, supporting food banks, it’s incredible!”

International Tartans has ordered four bags: two will be donated to the local foodbank and the two others will be sent as gifts to Greta Thunberg and Nicola Sturgeon. And as an added bonus for me personally, ReTweed has made my Christmas shopping into a no-brainer. Everyone will get a Bordersbag or a photograph of the one going to a foodbank in their name.

For more information about Bordersbags and how to order one visit—plastic-free-bags