Saturday, 30 November 2013

Being Beige - William Lockie (1874)

Beige Rage

How exciting to live life in beige. The most subversive of the colours. The fashion crowd will try and persuade you it's a boring colour. I'll tell you something, their beloved black is a boring colour. And it's not even a colour. We're beige and proud.

Add that beige to knitwear and you're being almost revolutionary in your subversively conservative garb.

(Beige looks nice with black though.)

Here's a knitwear label you may want to seek out: William Lockie. Lockie is based—where else?—in Hawick, the knitwear capital of Scotland.

They do some nice cashmere and camel hair numbers. The Windsor Shawl Collar Jacket in 2-ply camel hair above is without doubt a timeless classic.

Ken Nordine - Serious Beigeness

Ken Nordine, the word-jazzer, got the measure of beige on his 1967 album Colors. [Amazon]

Each track on the album features a different colour, and Nordine has made word associations to give a story and personality to each. He charmingly delivers these stories in a smooth vocal over a free-form jazz soundtrack, the words as deep or as silly as you want to read into them.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ultimate Duffle from Nigel Cabourn

Duffle Coat Elicits a Rare Exclamation

Wow! I don't use that expression lightly, but what else can you utter when you see this duffle coat from Nigel Cabourn? It has to be the finest duffle coat around right now, if ever.

That great British military heavyweight of the coat world, the duffle, has been reworked by Cabourn in cashmere (cloth by Cerutti). The integrity of the original military duffle is retained in length and shape, but the quality and detail has been taken up a level.

Made in England, the coat has a double storm front opening, proper wooden pegs and jute fastenings and patch pockets. The hood and cuffs have adjusters.

I have quite a crush on the rusty-coloured one above. Duffle heaven. I feel a little faint, I think I need a sit down.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Taylor's Celebrated Cutlery - Made in Sheffield

Sheffield - Steel City

Sheffield still has an association with the steel industry. It was very close to becoming something Sheffield was famous for, but the industry didn't disappear entirely. And what has emerged in recent years is an industry that has found new vigour through innovation, technology and focus on quality. Made in Sheffield still means something, particularly in the manufacture of advanced materials for niche industries.

It's not all about producing metal sheeting for aircraft though. Some of the older skills remain, keeping Sheffield's cutlery heritage alive. You can still own a little bit of hand-made Sheffield steel.

Taylor's Eye Witness - The Blades

Taylor's Eye Witness was established in 1820 by John Taylor in Sheffield. The company is still based in Sheffield—and their Victorian cutlery works, built in 1852, is still in operation. Taylor's famous Eye Witness 'eye' trademark was granted in 1838.

Tweedy's Idea: Why don't they create a visitor centre in the works, with tea rooms and so on. I'd visit and so would you.

Taylor's Premier Collection range of pocket knives are made by hand in their Sheffield works. The presentation box of the knife is signed by the craftsman that made it. The knives are made in limited numbers and come with a lifetime guarantee.

That's a Lambsfoot with burr handle below. At the top we have Gentleman's Clip Point with ox horn handle. Add one to your collection, chaps.

Here's a video of the manufacturing process. Lot's of hammering to produce a Barlow knife.

Thinking of Visiting Sheffield?

If you're thinking of visiting Sheffield, why not visit the Bath Hotel? The pub is run by our very good friends at Thornbridge Brewery.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Condensed Amsterdam #1 - Hajenius

I was productively idle in Amsterdam recently, enjoying the city and allowing the experiences to be had in the city to fall like ripe apples about my head.

The luscious clusters of the vine
Upon my mouth do crush their wine
The nectarine and curious peach
Into my hands themselves do reach

What I'm trying to say by borrowing Andrew Marvell's words is that it's not hard to have a good time in Amsterdam, pleasures are easy and abundant—unlike some cities, where you really have to work hard to winkle them out.

So the exercise with the Condensed Amsterdam series is to try and distil the diversions into a manageable weekend-sized chunk.

Strolling Around the Negen Straatjes

Let's base ourselves within an area of the Centrum district of Amsterdam between De 9 Straatjes and the Rijksmuseum [walking]. We may venture out on occasion, but—as with Salamanca in Madrid—we have everything we need here.

De 9 Straatjes is a beautiful area of canalside houses, connected by bridges, with many independent shops and restaurants (and no plasticky American fast-food and fashion chains to offendeth thine eyes). The area is like stepping into a Vermeer painting, with the quiet from the lack of cars and the light from the canals reflecting onto the 17th century gabled canal houses. And who amongst us wouldn't enjoy that?

Take a look in at Sir Maxx who stock some of our favourites for shoes and accessories: Crockett and Jones, Alden and Swaine Adeney Brigg.

Elevenses at Hajenius

Assuming you'll be having late starts in Amsterdam, elevenses at Hajenius cigar emporium and lounge is a good way to kick-start your day and a decent base in which to plan walks around the city.

The recommendations for elevenses from the Hajenius staff are hard to argue with. The mornings I was there they matched a Macanudo CafĂ© with a vintage port from Grahams [1820]. Another day it was a Leon Jimenes Gran Corona from La Aurora with a coffee.

The Hajenius smoking lounge is a quiet refuge. The Dutch will tend to smoke pipes and enjoy a good book in there. Brits will be sitting in groups smoking cigars and throwing back bottles of wine.

When the lounge emptied, I had the opportunity to listen to Radio Dismuke through the WiFi. It made for quite the perfect moment.

Appointment at the Tailor's

Come, let's now stroll towards the Rijksmuseum. We've an appointment at the best tailors in Amsterdam...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Watch Chain Reinvented

Chain with Cigar Cutter

You know I sometimes carry a cigar cutter? The guillotine-style cutter dangles from an Edwardian silver watch chain — graduated links, individually hallmarked — I keep in the breast pocket. Unfortunately, this style of cigar cutter cannot pass through security at airports. And wearing the chain without something on the end seems a bit silly. Esse est percipi.

I'm a wristwatch not a pocket watch wearer, so the chain has tended to stay at home on short trips abroad. Poor old chain, it's missed some terrific adventures.

But try to hold back the tears chaps; there's a happy ending to this sorry tale...

The Future Revealed - Chain with Flash Drive

I was packing for my next trip abroad. I had a few film and music recommendations from readers to catch up on, and I'd loaded them on to a flash drive to plug in to the TV in my hotel room. But where to put the flash drive safely and keep it from being lost?

Then I hit on an idea. What better way of keeping my flash drive safe than attaching it to my chain? A click on the spring clasp and it was securely in the pocket. I had found a new purpose for my chain and my flash drive was safe.

The chain reinvented, gentlemen.

Cigar cutter anecdote: One time when I was in Split, Croatia, I bought some cigars from a tobacconists. The member of staff who served me asked how long I would be staying in the city. I said a couple of days. He then handed me a beautiful cigar cutter and asked me to bring it back before I left. Top marks to Split.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Lyle & Scott - Winning Designs backed by Prince Charles

Wool School Winner

The Wool School Sweater - The New Wave Keeping to Tradition

What do you think of this sweater? Traditional yet contemporary, shall we say. I can see it having the sort of broad appeal where you can picture it under a Barbour wax jacket in the Scottish Highlands or on the back of a football hooligan in the Isle of Dogs.

The sweater, a limited edition, is based on the winning design for 'Wool School'—in a collaboration between Lyle & Scott and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design—organised by Campaign for Wool, whose patron is HRH The Prince of Wales.

The winning design is by Kate Annis—make a note of this name—whose brief was to consider the knitwear traditions of the British Isles. As Lyle & Scott say, its a 'contemporary take on traditional Scottish tartan and Argyle patterns'.

Lambswool from Z. Hinchcliffe

The sweater is made from lambswool in L & S's factory in Hawick, Scotland. The lambswool is sourced from Z. Hinchliffe and Sons who have been in the spinning business since 1766. I'm hoping to give a little more detail on Z. Hinchcliffe in a future article. 'Z' is for Zachhheus, by the way.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Pipe and Slippers Man #2

Pipe and Slippers - Traditional Appeal

The second in our occasional Pipe and Slippers Man series. If the Porsche pipe was a bit too space-age for you, we've a more traditional offering from Blakemar this time round. A more traditional pairing. Not to say you can't build up a collection and mix and match as you see fit. No rules at The Tweed Pig.

Incidentally pipe lovers, I was in Amsterdam last week and popped into Hajenius, the cigar and pipe retailer and lounge, a couple of times. They have a serious collection of pipes. I'll try and do a Condensed Amsterdam (in the style of Condensed Madrid and Easy Weekend in London) soon and we'll delve into Hajenius a bit more.

Blakemar Vest Pocket Pipe

Hand-made in the UK, Blakemar's Vest Pocket is from the De Luxe range. Designed with portability in mind, you can twist the mouthpiece and pop it into your weskit pocket.

Tricker's Churchill Slipper

The version of Tricker's Churchill slipper you see here, perhaps surprisingly, was sold through asos—out of stock now. It's an Albert-style slipper, embroidered with gold thread, and has a velvet upper, leather sole and quilted lining. Tricker's do slippers with leather and quilted linings. You may find, as I do, that the quilted lining is better suited to home slipper-wear than leather lining. A handsome slipper indeed. I must look into slippers with a pig embroidered on the front.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Great British Perfumes - Caldey Island Lavender Water

Exciting New Series & New Guest Contributor

Welcome to the first of our exciting new series Great British Perfumes. The series has been put together by our special guest contributor Lawrence Roullier White of famed London emporium Roullier White.

What Lawrence doesn't know about perfume could be written on the label of a tiny scent bottle, and still leave room for the list of ingredients and barcode.

In this series Lawrence will describe Great British perfumes, with some firmly established classics and some destined to be. First up is Caldey Island Lavender Water.

A little ripple of applause please, gentlemen, as Lawrence takes to the lectern. Dim the lights please Mrs T.

Caldey Island Lavender Water

A traditional lavender water is an indispensible part of any fragrance wardrobe. The cool, cologne-like qualities are soothing after a shave, refreshing if you are rushing around and, given the calming properties of the plant, are ideal if you are winding down, trying to relax on a flight or hold it together in the board room. However, it is surprising that good lavenders are hard to find.

If we were to say that a fragrance described as the best of its kind in the world, by one of the most respected international perfume authorities, is made by Trappist monks on an island 2 miles off the coast of Tenby, you would be forgiven for thinking the Tweed Pig had lost the plot. As unlikely as it may sound the monks of Caldey Island, in Pembrokeshire, really do produce one of the most extraordinary lavender scents known to man, as ratified by Luca Turin, who waxes lyrical (‘It reminds me of Vermeer's use of the precious pigment ultramarine, made from lapis lazuli and traditionally reserved for the Virgin Mary's robe, on the apron of a servant pouring milk’) over the heavenly joys of Caldey Island Lavender Water in his book, with Tania Sanchez, Perfumes: A Guide.

As early as the 1950s the enterprising monks wanted to offer something to the many day-trippers to their island who invariably left clutching bunches of the sweet-smelling, herbaceous perennial which grows there. What could have turned into a cheap souvenir line was exalted to the extraordinary by the foresight, and acumen, the monks had to engage the services of a professional perfumer. After experimenting in the abbot’s kitchen, it was realised by the fathers that the flora available to them on the island alone could not create a scent with the lasting power they required. Flemish (the monks are from a Belgian order) nose Hugo Collumbien, set about creating a fragrance that reflected the botany of the island but which could be made in a scale that would satisfy the demands of the many visitors. Imported lavender compounds from Sault, in Southern France, are rendered more robust by the addition of the appropriately named exaltolide, a sweet musk once collected from the muskrat but now synthesised, and are blended by hand by monks in the Abbey perfumery.

Turin believes that every fragrance collection should include a lavender and he describes Caldey Island Lavender Water as ‘simply the best lavender soliflore on earth’. High praise indeed.

Lawrence's smelling notes: Caldey Island Lavender has the floral top notes one would expect, but clean and sharp rather than powdery and soapy. The middle is an icy, steely core which dries down to an skin-smelling softness. An elegant, timeless classic.

Looking for New Guest Contributors

Do you have a specialism that you'd like to write on that would help us swell the content of The Tweed Pig? if so, please get in touch. All that we ask is that you know your onions on a topic we cover regularly. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Paul Stuart Pops Over to Auld Reekie

Paul Stuart - Nice Photoshoot

I think we can let the photos that accompany the Paul Stuart winter collection do the talking today. Bask in the Scottishness of the settings, showing off Stuart's impressively traditional clothes against an Edinburgh background. (The nicest city in Scotland, but don't tell Glasgow.) If they'd have said they were coming to Great Britain, I would have put the kettle on and invited them round for teacakes.

We have the bagpiper above. Below we have the Flying Scotsman and a man perfectly attired in brown trilby and covert coat for a British horse race meeting.

Here we see reflectiveness by a loch, followed by a snifter of whisky in a local hostelry. The man at the back of the pub looks decidedly dodgy.

Most of the Scottish 'boxes' ticked. Would have been nice to see haggis somewhere. I adore haggis (it cures hangovers). Haggis tip: splash a bit of whisky on as a condiment when your haggis is piping hot.

Paul Stuart - British Authenticity

Once again, our favourite Anglo-American retailer melds the Union Jack with the Stars and Stripes in its sourcing of the finest British clothing to complement its collection.

The Shetland Wool Cable Knit Sweater in lovely heathery colours is made in Scotland:

The Woven Silk Tartan Plaid Tie (self-tipped) is made in England:

The Suede Double Monk Strap shoes are made in England:

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