Layers of Love


Sean’s great uncle wore his wedding kilt only once. It was made in the 1950s, from Ancient Macleod of Harris tartan. To me it is the colours of the summer: rich blue and turquoise with black shadow and a red and yellow overcheck. I instantly saw the waters of the island where we ourselves will marry next August. The kilt will once again be worn, this time by Sean.

A few alterations are needed and so the kilt must be stripped back. Buckles unpicked, stitches cut. I peel the lining back in sections to reveal the work beneath. Zig zag threads bounding across fabric, keeping the strict pleats in order. Layers of canvas for stability. Secret tucks and hidden folds of cloth, ensuring that as the man grows, so can the kilt.

The fabric is soft to handle, the smell of tobacco lingers in the woollen fibres. I have the sense of another time, a different man, a whole other married life about to start. I have a deep feeling of nostalgia for a time I had never known. Who had sewn these pleats? Hours of careful, accurate skill. For a kilt cannot be rushed. And it seems to me that amongst all the hours, and all the layers and thousands of stitches, are really layers and layers of love. For who would embark on such a project without it?

The nostalgic feeling changes to excitement for the future. Into the folds of this old kilt will be pressed a new story. A new adventure for our marriage and a new lease of life for the pleats.