Exploring the Surroundings

Posted: March 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
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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.

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