Archive for March, 2011

It’s Thursday night, and my fiancée and other roommate are having a 90’s night – Clueless, Beverly Hills 90210, Smirnoff Ice, Lunchables, Gushers Fruit Snacks.  It’s a Girl Thing, I’m told.  I’m content to pen down a new blog post and relax with the little black kitten cat that is nice enough to share our home with us.

My fiancée and I have been talking about undergoing a Green Revolution together.  What does that mean?  Well, it involves making our own toothpaste, our own deodorant, and so on.  Moving away from highly processed chemicals where we can, and instead opting for natural alternatives.  I haven’t been able to contribute much – she’s the one who is willing to dive in and create and mix and become an alchemist for us.  But I am happy to use the products, and I think it’s a great idea.  I feel that there is something to be gained by moving a step away from using items in which you can’t pronounce any of the ingredients.

She recently ordered a book on soapmaking, with an eye on making our own soaps for use at home, and potentially selling extra bars on our Etsy.  A book on canning fruits and vegetables came along with the soapmaking book, and I have to say, I’m very much looking forward to making our own pickles, and experimenting with jams and jellies.  There is a customer at my dad’s restaurant who makes his own pickles, and is always dropping off jars for us to try.  While I don’t think we’ll go to those lengths, it will certainly be an adventure!

I’m not an alchemist by any means, but I can sew – which means that I’ve been spending time thinking about sewing my own shirts, based loosely on a “Renaissance Faire” design, but with sleeves that are more fitted, and more like modern shirts, or even late-19th century working man’s shirts.  It’s all still in the planning stages, but I’d also like to sew my own waistcoats and vests if and when I get the chance.  It’s the ultimate way to control my wardrobe.  On the subject of sewing, I feel I should put in a quick plug for our Etsy shop here, since it’s currently featuring a number of smaller sewn items that I’ve designed.  Our Etsy shop name is Greyedout.  Look us up, and say hello!

Last December, just before Christmas, I moved halfway across the country to live with my fiancée in Atlanta, Georgia.  It’s a city of some four million people, roughly eight times larger than the town in Texas I came from.  I don’t drive, so public transportation thanks to the MARTA system is how I get around.  I haven’t explored much on my own yet, but my fiancée and I do pretty much everything together, so I’ve seen at least a little bit of the city.  If you get a chance, the Vortex in Little 5 Points is incredible, and a wonderful restaurant/bar to get a great burger and have a fun night with friends.

The title of this blog is The Kilted German, and part of that comes from the Workman’s utilikilt that I received as a Christmas gift this year.  It’s warmed up a lot in the past month or so, and the last few weeks I’ve been practically living in my kilt.  It has tons of pocket space, it’s rugged and durable, and it’s comfortable.  I highly recommend it, if you have the means.  I’m lounging on the bed as I type, the kilt spreading out around me, bare feet pointed toward the fan in the corner.  It’s unseasonably hot today, and all I want is cooler weather and some of the cold-brewed tea that’s waiting in the fridge.

Part of what I want to discuss with this blog are the experiences I have while out and about wearing my kilt.  I’d like to show, if I can, that it’s OK to take a risk sometimes and wear something a little out of the ordinary.  I’m not Irish, or Scottish.  I like the movie Braveheart even though I know how inaccurate it is.  I like the culture.  But what I think really brought me to this kilted walk through life was steampunk.

If you’ve never heard of steampunk, think Jules Verne.  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  Or perhaps League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Steampunk encompasses a world where industrial revolutions happened earlier, faster, with more change and progress.  Think computing engines in the early 19th century powered by steam, created in brass and iron and churning out paper chits of information for mass consumption.  Picture airship pirates, goggles, and mechanical arms.  And you’re starting to see the tip of the iceberg.

I can’t remember where I first heard the word “steampunk”, but I knew it when I thought about it.  All those little bits and pieces finally added up my in my head, and I had a realization that did a little to explain all those various things that I liked but had previously had no name for.  I went to school for theatre, with a costume design emphasis, so anything that deals in clothes and history quickly catches my interest.  And if nothing else, steampunk culture comes up with some very interesting costumes and clothing ideas.  At some point my fiancée and I had a conversation about kilts, and how they can be very steampunk.  I’d looked at the utilikilts website before, and mentioned that it would be awesome to have one.  I never expected to receive one for Christmas.  But I did, and I couldn’t be more thankful or happier.

Wearing the kilt outside for the first time was definitely an experience.  So far I’ve received nothing but curious questions and comments, and if anyone has anything negative to say about it, it hasn’t been to my face.  Well, except for the teenager outside the mall.  As he drove by in his SUV he halfheartedly yelled “Go back to Scotland!”.  I often get asked if I’m Irish or Scottish. One lady in Whole Foods looked vaguely offended when I said that I wasn’t – but the cashier recognizing me a week later made up for that.  I generally explain that the kilt is a utilikilt – made by an American company, it stands for “utility kilt” – and that it’s quite comfortable with lots of storage space.  The logo is stitched onto the right rear pocket as well, so it’s hard to miss.  It’s a little more urban than a traditional kilt, and I mean that in a good way.  It’s made of 100% cotton canvas, so it’s somewhat heavy, but again, it’s very comfortable to wear.  I will say, though, that hanging it to dry can be an adventure.  It took two clothes hangers to get it hanging properly.

I wear mine with a pair of Doc Marten’s and kilt socks gotten from Sock Dreams, an amazing company in Oregon that has a huge variety of socks to choose from.  The kilt was a little loose on me, so I stitched myself a belt from some fabric webbing, a few d-rings, and a couple of snaps.  It’s nice to have sewing skills.  Next up?  Probably a waistcoat or vest of some sort.  I have some plaid fabric that I’ve been dying to use for exactly that purpose, and it occurred to me the other day that snaps work just as well on waistcoats as they do on utilikilts… and that will finally give me a chance to wear my pocketwatch as well.

I should mention here that utilikilts are a bit different from the normal kilt. Utilikilts generally fasten through the use of a system of frontal snaps.  A number of heavy-duty snaps are arranged in a sort of V-shape at the front of the kilt, and these are your closures.  There are several different models available, starting with the Original and the Workman’s.  The Workman’s is heavier, with two large cargo pockets on the side and two pockets on the back.  The Survival has even more cargo space, though it’s lighter than the Workman’s from what I understand.  And last but certainly not least are the Mocker and the Tuxedo.  The Mocker is almost an office version of the utilikilt, and the tuxedo is just that – a formal occasion kilt.

I’m going to wrap up for now – it’s already a wordy first post – but stay tuned for further adventures.  Blog name aside, I plan to discuss a few other topics here as well, including some of my hobbies, what I’m reading and watching, and so on.  Thanks for sticking with me.