Experiencing the breeze between the knees since March 2009

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Great Grace O'Malley!

It's been a whole MONTH since my last post, and what do I have to show for it? Actually, quite a bit of relaxation and some nice paychecks in between... But that's not the point! How could you have allowed me to shirk my official, kilted duties? I should scold you, I know, but since I'm a benevolent kind of guy I'll let it slide... this time.

Meanwhile, the kilted life has been pretty grand in north Texas after over twenty days of 100+ degree weather (or more accurately, lack of any weather) since I have a significant advantage over the stifled pant-wearers, but I won't lie: it is damn HOT, and I'm not the only one itching for some rain.

So as you might imagine I've been spending most of my time indoors, and when I'm not doing yoga it's a buzzkill to wear anything besides my precious pleats. Okay, it's also a buzzkill not to wear my kilt during yoga too, but I think I've already mentioned somewhere on this blog the importance of not scaring away our customers.

Anywho, it's time for an update, so instead I'll give you a teaser (because I'm also THAT kind of a guy.) I've been promising to share some examples of my favorite footwear since the early days of Living to the Kilt, so you can look forward to some photos of my feet soon! Aren't you lucky? Honestly, within the next two or three days, I promise.

Meanwhile, I'll urge my fellow Texans and other unfortunate souls in this heat wave / drought to stay cool, and may the rest of you continue to enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm Dyeing

So awhile back I decided that my black original was losing its original blackness. Ironic, I know. Given that this was the very first kilt in my repertoire (from over two years ago) I think it deserves some credit for not fading completely to gray - perhaps that dreary day will come, but I'll try to ward it off for as long as I can.

One such method at which I tried my hand was to re-dye it to a blacker hue. I purchased some of the ultra-concentrated liquid dye and found a big, black, plastic tub to brew the concoction. I didn't want to foul up any decently elegant portion of the house or stain the great outdoors, so I opted for the bathtub as my center of operation and got quickly to dyeing.

I had originally intended to snap some before and after shots, but I only got halfway through - you'll find out why later. Meanwhile, here's the before with my kilt and a black shirt for comparison to see what I had and what I wanted:

Forgive the flash, it washes things out a bit. Anyway, kilt's on the left, shirt's on the right - you can see the difference. Now on to the fun part: I will warn anyone who wants to try dyeing their own clothes that it takes forever and a day to rinse dyed garments, and even longer to get the stain out of your bathtub. Lesson learned. Here's the boiling cauldron:

Eeeeewgrooossssss yeah suck it up. It was pretty nasty, but the smell wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It took up a fairly big chunk of my day, and if I remember correctly I had a test to study for or something like that, which I probably should have taken into consideration given that the solution needed constant motion, poking, and prodding. Being the man that I am, I stuck it out and sticked it in (can I say that here?)

Yes, I use Garnier hair products. Gotta take care of these naturally gorgeous locks. (Plus there's a bottle of Axe right next to it - that's manly, right?) And if you haven't noticed, the proper attire in which to dye a kilt is, of course, another kilt, in this case my olive original. Which brings us to the money shot:

Just beautiful. So I'm gonna say this whole process took me about three hours from start to finish, which is a bit ridiculous in retrospect. Not to mention the second half of the before and after equation: as much as I hate to say it, dyeing the kilt didn't make just a huge difference. I could tell immediately that the color held better than before, but after a few washes and wearings it returned to something less than obsidian, not quite ebony, just short of the black void of space. So I decided an after shot wasn't really necessary - besides, you'll be seeing the black original in more photos to come!

Oh, and after the dyeing comes the drying, which is an excellent opportunity to show just how well-hung a Utilikilt is:

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Seam

Or pleat, rather. Anyway, we're already three whole weeks into summer, and I haven't done a damn thing for the kilted cyber-world.

That might have something to do with my recent indoctrination into Dungeons & Dragons nerd-dom. Subconsciously I must be thinking "since school's out, I need to find something else to take up all my free time." Most upstanding citizens would probably find jobs, but I don't think there are many monsters & twisted souls out there in corporate America... Heh, I almost made it through that one without laughing.

In all seriousness, I do have a couple part-time summer jobs: I'm back at the florist's making kilted deliveries, but I still have to shed the comfort during yoga so as not to offend my attendees.

Anyway, I DO actually have some time off now, so I'll be here and also at my other newly created blog about seafood diets from time to time. Since summer is arguably one of the best seasons to be kilted with built-in air-conditioning, look forward to some more posts!

Peace, and let freedom swing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Goodness, just WHERE does the time go?

It’s been almost a full month since my last post, and we’ve already begun another year. As you might imagine, I’ve been rather distracted, but here’s the Sparknotes version of where I’ve been:

I finished up the semester with my sanity hanging on by a thread, so most of this “break” has been spent recalibrating and readjusting to a life without the strains of school. Which, you know, I start again in just two short weeks, but that’s life.

I’ve been travelling quite a bit – San Antonio for some family relaxation, Mississippi and Georgia for the holidays, and my usual traipses around town and surrounding areas for this and that. I started to get back on a gym schedule, but after I was hit by an intestinal virus I’ve missed a bit more than I should have. Life goes on.

So that’s me—what about my kilts? Have they been accompanying me on my journeys and misadventures? You bet they have, including a frigid, snowy holiday season in Atlanta—the first Christmas snow they’ve had since 1882. I’ll be honest, I had to break out the thermals for that adventure, but once I pulled up my knee-length socks I didn’t feel too ashamed. I was actually asked at lunch yesterday (here in town, where it’s still chilly) how I typically combat the cold and my response was “practice,” but if it’s snowing and windy I have no qualms with bundling up my down-under.

I’m sure that you’re just as eager as I am to see some new pictures up here, given my recent prolonged absence, so I’ll share a couple from my San Antonio trip about two weeks back that were taken on the River Walk. If you’re not familiar with the city, San Antone’s a pretty big deal to us Texans, what with the Alamo and all, but I’d encourage anyone with a sense of adventure or a need for relaxation and sight-seeing to check out the River Walk (http://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/). Built around the banks of the San Antonio River is a pretty lengthy walkway studded with shop after restaurant after historic feature after hotel. It’s a surprisingly clean place (they flush the river yearly—if I’m not mistaken, this happens around February, so March wouldn’t be a bad time of year to mosey on over and have a good time) and there is PLENTY to do. My numero uno selling point is the food. If you like Mexican food or Tex-Mex, you’ll be satisfied, but thirsts from around the world can easily be quenched there, as my party found out at MadDog’s British Pub.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised by the quality of their food—and vegetarian options, no less—but I thoroughly enjoyed the wait staff’s appreciation for unbifurcated living. That’s right, they were ALL kilted—and not just the blokes; even the ladies sported mini-kilts, which, if you’ve never seen one in action, can be pretty sexy. I was told that the kilts featured at this restaurant were made in Europe from skilled craftsmen, and I even got to try one on: they sell the garments right across from the bar, and I was about to fork up the cash after trying on a very elegant, blue-hued plaid kilt, but I found out that I’m spoiled enough on the Utilikilt’s 360˚ pleats to settle for nothing less than perfect comfort. However, if it had been just an inch or two longer, I may have let my eager waitress make the sale for the sake of spicing up my wardrobe with some plaid.

In the meantime, I was sure to get a shot with some of the guys working the floor that night—the gentleman on the far right is wearing the tartan I was going for, and you can see that they get creative with some camo from the guy in the middle.

Well, I think that about wraps up today’s post (which, I promise, will be followed soon by more.) Here are some things you can look forward to next time around: dyeing your kilt to resurrect its old self; footwear and how to rock your socks in a kilt; and maybe a few other surprises. Meanwhile, keep it free, and don’t work too hard!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Leather of Legend...

I have heard stories of a mythical kilt fit for Hephaestus' relentless toiling with fire and iron, a garment so hardcore, so manly, and so utterly awe-inspiring that Odin shed from his sacrificed eye a single tear of admiration when the garment was first completed. This mingling of pleats and power became known as the legendary Leather Utilikilt, and it was thought to have vanished from this world with the cessation of its production so many moons ago...

...until NOW.

You could imagine my excitement at having the honor of seeing one of these beauties, discontinued for an undisclosed amount of time at UKHQ. Luckily, I was introduced to one of the famed kilts and its owner, a new friend of mine who was fortunate enough to procure one a few years back, and I got to see it in action at the gathering where we met.

I'll try my best to let the awesomeness speak for itself, but if you've been reading for any period of time, you know I have to throw in my praise. Apart from the thousand-and-one hardships this garment can withstand given the durable nature of leather, it is also quite insulating. On the particular night I was introduced to its wearer - who, by the way, is active in the Society for Creative Anachronism, a testament to longevity of medieval proportions itself - it was particularly chilly outside, and he was without a worry in his cozy leather leg-tent. That is normally one of the only downfalls of living a kilted life: the cold can be bitter, unless you're a mind-over-matter kind of guy (as I claim to be, when my Texan genes aren't screaming "You're from the south and you suck at winter - get yer ass inside!") Usually I find that a nice, long pair of socks fixes the problem and rather detracts from the overall cold, but we'll see whether or not I'm forced to invest in a pair of long-johns this season.

One of the advantages of my Survival, though, was the ample pocket space. I think my friend was just as excited about my kilt as I was about his. At any rate, one of the only downsides of the Leather model was the lack of storage space - notice the sporran (granted, he pulls it off nicely, and part of me thinks it adds some measure of character and tradition.) If I'm not mistaken, it comes with one back pocket for billfolds or cigarettes or what have you.

And of course, what's a kilted gathering without hammer and claymore? (Why I've seemingly begun to stick out my tongue is beyond me. Perhaps I was trying to satiate a subconscious need to taste the awesomeness drenching the atmosphere of the room.)

I figured at the time this photo was taken that it might present a little too much testosterone for some readers, so I made sure to include the following:

Nothing like a cute little puppy to help calm things down. That flash almost ruined the opportunity... lucky you, eh?

So now that that's all said and done, any guesses as to how much a leather kilt would go for? Last time I checked, they had been asking about $800 per Utilikiltarian, but at one time they may have been as low as $700. Again, they're off the market (for now), so until production begins again we can't know for sure. I'd be interested to see if any improvements are added or if anything changes. Meanwhile I'm happy with my collection so far. Speaking of which, I'm planning to dye my black Original soon, so expect some before-and-after shots so you can get a good comparison of what a year-and-a-half's worth of wear-and-tear will do to the color (I don't think I've ever used that many hyphenated phrases in a single sentence before.)

I'll leave you with a token of my allegiance to They Who Clothe Me, who also sell many other garments, if you're interested in showing some spirit but maybe can't afford a kilt just yet. I believe the hoodie I'm wearing goes for $32 without shipping, but you're welcome to browse their site again and find out for yourself.

See you next time, and let the legend be remembered!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Texas Renaissance Festival

So it's been a couple weekends since I went to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, TX, and if you're not familiar with such events, it can be a drag having to return home afterward. Rarely are you able to find such a diverse conglomeration of people, festivities, vendors, and foods, so if you haven't been there, you need to get your arse in gear! Not to mention there's no shortage of kilt vendors at any given fair: I actually worked at a Utilikilts booth at the Norman, OK Medieval Faire earlier this year, and last summer I visited Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie, TX - my first experience at such a venue - where kilts abounded. Granted, most of the kilts you'll see are modeled after the traditional plaid fashion, but there's nothing wrong with that. I'm still looking to get my family's tartan in a traditional wool kilt one I have enough funding (and a reputable source.)

Anyway, TRF is still going on and will continue every weekend through November 28. Check out their website here, and pay special attention to the admission fees and discounts – if you buy a weekend package, it’s much cheaper than paying by the day (not to mention you get to spend more time there), and if you buy tickets at local venues (like select grocers) it’s significantly cheaper as well.

Of course, I was faced with my usual dilemma of being the guy with the camera, and there weren’t many mirrors handy, so most of my photographic documentation did not include me or my kilt, but I managed to hand off the camera to another party member quickly enough to get a couple snapshots. I think we were in the “gardens” at this point, giving me plenty of statues to pose next to. I chose an elephant. Why not?

Like I said, there was no shortage of traditional-style kilts (I think I only saw one or two other Utilikiltarians: one was drawing money from an ATM, otherwise I would’ve stopped him and asked for a photo to prove it. I figured against potentially freaking him out while he grabbed his cash.) Anywho, the bloke in the following photos is a member of an awesome band called Tartanic. They blend some new vibes into some traditional tunes, and they are pretty hardcore when it comes to pleasing their audience. I was told after leaving this show that this fellow removed his shirt to reveal washboard abs, much to the delight of the ladies in the crowd, while the rest of us men-folk were ogling the scantily-clad wenches selling CDs. Talk about smart advertising.

If you want to check them out, you can find their website here. They're a lot of fun, especially in an intimate setting like Renaissance festivals, so I'll repeat it again: if you get a chance to go, GO!

Now, having given credit where it is due, I'd like to point out a simple comparison: note the sporran (the little bag-thingy hanging in front of the piper's kilt.) Note how you don't need one of those in a Utilikilt, given the ample pocket space available. Granted, it does add an element of traditional neatness, but I think it'd get old quick having a bag of junk swinging in front of your... um... bag of junk. All the same, freedom is freedom, and every man has his favorite flavor (speaking of flavors, if you like mead, you MUST go to TRF and sample the mead from one of the permanent vendors. Be prepared to spend $52 on a bottle of ambrosia. Luckily I turned 21 the weekend before this event, so I am able to boast my first purchase of an alcoholic beverage as mead at a Renaissance festival. But don't drink, kids, 'cause that's bad!)

That about wraps things up here. See you folks at the next update! And drop me a comment every once in awhile so I can quit pretending like people actually read this and start believing it ;)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some Serious Cleaning

Unfortunately, one of the only things the Utilikilt does not come equipped with is a protective mask (for the face, anyway), and for a guy as allergy-ridden as me, a chore as simple as mowing the lawn or cleaning out the shed certainly necessitates the use of such a device.

I personally think the kilt just adds another measure of badassedness to it. I could sense the dust mites trembling with fear at my approach... In all honesty, though, if I can't at least breathe without assistance from something attached to my face, I will certainly take advantage of letting the important bits breathe by wearing proper kilted attire. 'Nuff said.