Experiencing the breeze between the knees since March 2009

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Oh, Bother...

"Oh the wind is lashing lustily
And the trees are thrashing thrustily
And the leaves are rustling gustily..."

If you're familiar at all with my area, then you've probably wondered why Chicago was dubbed "The Windy City" instead of any of a number of cities in north Texas, because when it blows here, it BLOWS. If you didn't catch it, those opening lines belong to the wise old Winnie the Pooh, which makes me think the Hundred Acre Wood must have been down the road from me at some point. You know, aside from the fact that there are no trees in N Texas...

Anyway, I had to roll up the canopy of our camper parked out back so the winds wouldn't take the whole thing to Kansas, and one has to wonder how a kilted young lad could accomplish such a feat and remain humble in his attire (although, Winnie the Pooh was allegedly one of the humblest figures in literary history, and not only did he not wear pants, he didn't wear anything down there. He certainly must have been a wise bear, hmm?)

To save myself some effort, I'll refer you to an earlier post about getting to know my kilts, where you will find a description of the Workman's model, equipped with a built-in safety system. Basically the point of this post is to let you know that it stands up to the test of the savage winds of north Texas; show me a city-slicker from Chicago (say that five times fast) who can keep his cool in a windstorm on the open plains - quite literally, as my downstairs were able to enjoy the winds as much as the rest of me.

If there's anything I have in common with Winnie the Pooh, it is assuredly a sense of freedom unknown to the unimaginative, trousered folk out there.

Did they seriously use the word "lustily" in a children's show? And what's this "thrashing thrustily" business? I need to rethink my childhood... This might actually explain a lot.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Whole Family & Wash Care

Just look at 'em. Don't they seem happy? I think so. One thing's for sure - a closet full of kilts certainly gets my spirits up! Just thought it'd be nice to have a group photo.

This is also a good opportunity to give you an idea of how low-maintenance these beauties are. They only need to be washed infrequently, as they're pretty hard to get dirty enough to actually need a good washing (depending, of course, on how you like to spend your time. I can think of more than a few ways to dirty a kilt, but maybe that's because my mind is so often in the gutter.)

Anyway, I just run them through a cold cycle in the washing machine - after ensuring the labyrinth of pockets is emty, of course - and spread them out to dry. It's just as well to hang them up, but I find the pleats keep their form best when laid out to dry, maybe with a ceiling fan on. Just straightening them out by hand a bit aids the process, and keeps wrinkles out. Now I'm not that worried about the heavy-duty Workman's, so I usually just throw it in the dryer for a little while, not enough to dry it completely, and then spread it out for the rest of the process. The heavier material makes it nearly impossible to hang when it's soaked, cause it gets HEAVY.

As far as care goes, I also find that these things are built to last. I was more than a little turned off when I first saw the price tags, but you really do pay for quality and durability. I would've spent more on pants that wear out too easily in the time I've had my kilts, were I still living a shackled life, and I know folks who have spent years in one kilt with no complaints. I think it's a no-brainer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Olive, Oh Love...

As promised, here are some shots of the newest addition to my collection, the olive Original Utilikilt.

The color is much richer than I'd expected, a very deep, almost forest green, which can be elegant but still retain its character. Like a delicious glass of wine, no? Aged to perfection in the Utilikilts warehouse, this beautiful garment has been blah blah blah AWESOME. Got some good shots of the pleats in here, that fresh-off-the-factory crispness that makes for a nice looking kilt. They do tend to soften after awhile, but we're talking months and months of wear and tear - especially if you wear them every day, like me, but properly kept they can keep this nice, sharp look (like my Mocker, if you haven't seen it in action yet.)

I also wanted to experiment with sizing, because my 34" waist I typically order (all of the kilts before this one) is a bit loose - but COMFORTABLY so. I went a size down with this one at 33" (still kept the 23" length) and it definitely sits higher, the top just below my navel. It makes it feel shorter, which is actually kind of nice - I might consider going down to a 21.5" length on the next one - but it also wears more noticeably on my hip bones. I wouldn't want to load the pockets with much, else it'd be a bit uncomfortable. Either way it's nice to have options and to notice how different the ride can be with a simple alteration in sizing - and only an inch, at that! I worked with Utilikilts at a fair earlier this year, and almost every time we got the bifurcated blokes' actual waist measurements, a size up from that did the job, so if you're in the market for one of these, keep in mind that you're going to need some room to breathe (unless you like a tighter fit, like this one.) Also gives some "pinching room" in the backseat, extra fabric to stretch about when you're sitting or being active and whatnot.

And I love the black embroidered logo above the back pocket - it's white on my black Original, for obvious reasons, but I like the subtle, stylish element this lends to the whole package. Oh, and speaking of packages, everything still breathes just fine in this kilt - try getting a smaller size of trousers without the choke factor! (Actually, just take my word for it and don't.)

I've been wearing it for a whole day, and already I've got a handful of compliments and weird glances. Apparently this look is popular in Germany (maybe the military-grade green?), because a girl stopped me earlier who had been to Germany and enlightened me that I'd fit right in. Anyway, to wrap things up, this was a good lesson in sizing, and it makes me want to reiterate the importance of actually trying one on, if you're planning on freeing yourself anytime soon. It's one thing to take your measurements with a tape in front of a computer screen, but to really get the full effect and know for certain what's your style, either look for a retailer in your area, visit UKHQ on your next vacation, or check out different Renaissance fairs and other conferences for a vendor.

Hope you've enjoyed the pictures as much as I've enjoyed wearing it today - now I'm off to fetch some groceries and enjoy the reactions of some townsfolk!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Deep in the Heeaaart of Texas!

It's one wonderful thing to return home after weeks of being gone, but it's even better when you have a beautiful new kilt waiting for you to arrive! Soon as I get a few free minutes (probably tomorrow,) I'll get some pictures up. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Every Vacation Needs a Breakdown

So I mentioned the Prius briefly before, and it's a fantastic vehicle: been getting about 43 miles to the gallon on this trip, which has saved a bundle. The problem with vehicles, though, is that you still have to put gas in them - yes, even in hybrids - as we learned when we ran out of gas about 79 miles east of Pensacola. Luckily we've got AAA, so after their guy gave us a couple gallons we were able to make it to a gas station. Of course, it was still sweltering hot, and of course, I was still in my breezy kilt, which is a good combination, so overall it's just another experience to mark off the list.

I'm in Mississippi now, crashing with family for the night, and I'll be back in Lone Star sometime tomorrow - home sweet home, finally some dry heat instead of this humid, muggy stuff!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shopping in Savannah

Here I am chilling in one of the very many shops in downtown Savannah, GA today. If you're not familiar with the city, it's an absolute tourist trap, but it's still one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. It's been hot as balls here lately (not mine, of course) but being from Texas that's not a big deal for me: in Georgia, it's the humidity that really gets to you. I wouldn't dare set foot outside in a pair of pants. Or anywhere, for that matter... Anyway, I'm in my Survival here, and I suppose this shot is a good demonstration of how the pleats fall in the front when sitting down, keeping everything out of the public eye.

I'll be headed back to Texas tomorrow morning, but I won't get in until Wednesday as I'm staying with some Mississippian relatives tomorrow night. I've heard it's hot as ever back home, but I'm more than willing to put up with the dry heat. Plus it's north Texas, so for all I know it could be hailing, blistering, tornadoing, puring rain, or snowing (don't believe me? Check out your national news records of the devastating blizzard we had last year that caught most of Oklahoma and surrounding areas.) Hopefully I'll get to snap some photos on my way back, so keep in touch ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Getting Acquainted With the Crew

As long as I've got the pictures handy, I figure I'll go ahead and share a good mix of my older photos as well as some of the new. This is also a good opportunity to officially introduce you to my kilts.

I do have something of an artsy side, and I love a good hike in the woods (whenever I can find any woods, that is: north Texas isn't exactly notorious for towering trees.) This one's from a short trip I took to Fort Richardson in Jacksboro, TX - if you're a camping kind of man, this is a pretty nice place to stay. Good for the family, too: Civil War reenactments during certain seasons, plenty of wonderful hiking trails, decent camp sites, and a great deal of wildlife. I saw a fawn (that's what you call a baby deer, right?) nuzzled under a bush on one trail I took this trip, but unfortunately wasn't able to get a good photo. Of course, I captured the most unusual thing to see in a north TX state park, which would be my kilt. I don't exactly see them roaming around, grazing in the fields or anything.
The kilt featured above - and in many of my photos, as you've probably noticed (it's the black one) - is called the Original Utilikilt, a very simple but functional design. Two serious cargo pockets on either side and one interior rear pocket provide plenty of space for the junk I need to carry around with me, but it remains a lightweight and VERY breathable garment, perfect for everyday wear and casual occasions.

What I should have been wearing in the great outdoors was this fine piece of craftsmanship: the Survival Utilikilt. Even without the archery equipment, this is a kilt that reeks of badassery: two double-pocketed, removable cargo attachments to either side; deep, interior front pockets; two pouch pockets in the rear; water-repellent material; also fairly lightweight, and equipped with a caribiner-hook for whatever needs to hang (you know, besides what's under the kilt.) Perfect for the outdoorsy type.

Next on the list is my Workman's, a kilt modeled after Carhartts designed to take the beating of truly manly activities like construction work, welding, technician stuff, etc. As Jethro Tull might say, this thing is thick as a brick and just as durable - I've put it through a few months at Habitat for Humanity builds, paint stains to prove it. In fact, the build site featured here is a Habitat location, and here's why the Workman's is the kilt for the job:

It is designed to minimize risk of accident and maximize productivity. Note the built-in, adjustable hammer loop (and, not pictured, tape-measure loop on the opposite side) fashioned to keep tools safely secured in the handiest of locations, the lengths of which are adjustable. The studs you see (apart from the one wearing the kilt, of course,) dotting the external cargo pocket are constructed likewise to hold miscellaneous items in place: they served well to secure my pencil between markings and cuts, in this day’s example. On the opposite hip hangs a clip for any number of extra necessities, in my case car keys that would otherwise have obstructed precious pocket space. Speaking of pockets, such burdensome necessities as those pesky nail aprons are a thing of the past; the bulge you see in the visible pocket (don’t get too excited, now,) is comprised of galvanized nails, readily accessed at a moment’s notice. Perhaps a bit more obvious is the built-in AC, activated with a simple swing of the hips or a stiff breeze – the latter of which some would normally consider to be a problem if the kilt-wearer, true to regulatory fashion, were in easily-offendable company, but even then safeguards are built in. Were I, for example, atop the scaffolding and in danger of surprising onlookers from below, the Utilikilts modesty system would have leapt into action with a simple series of buttons to conceal the potentially disorienting view (the Survival is equipped with a similar system.)

Finally, we have one of the more chic Utilikilts available today, and that is the Mocker. Usually I save this one for special occasions, like the obviously-cropped event featured here (forgive me: identities must be protected.) Instead of the bulky cargos, this streamlined beauty has those deep, interior pockets, both front and rear, and really makes an outfit look nice when properly matched. Still, that won't stop me from wearing it casually on laundry day or when I just want the sheer material without cargo pockets. Great for lounging and just taking it easy, if that's your thing.

That about wraps it up for introductions, and you can bet on getting more acquainted with the crew as the blog rolls on. In fact, a new family member should be joining us within the next few weeks - an olive-colored Original, hopefully en route from the UK HQ in Seattle, Washington soon! This is probably a good time to let my readers know that, if at any time you feel inclined to drop a comment or leave me a lil' sum'm sum'm, you're welcome to do so - TASTEFULLY, please. Or at least without being too terribly mean to me. I'm really nothing but a big, soft teddy bear. In a badass kilt.

Travels, Pt. 2

Interestingly enough, I'm beginning this blog a little over 1100 miles away from what I call home, but I suppose that's appropriate considering the ample opportunity to put the kilts to the test. If I haven't iterated the functionality of the garment enough, take, for instance, a simple trip to the beach:

For me, the sand and sun provides a chance to be truly utilitarian. As most
beach access areas are designed, I'll park my car and take the boardwalk to the sand, but instead of worrying over changing into my swim trunks before making the trek, I have them rolled up in my spacious cargo pocket ready at a moment's notice. Once I scope out a decent area to settle, changing my wardrobe in the public eye is as easy as unrolling my trunks, slipping them on under the kilt, unsnapping the latter and dropping it to the ground. Since it's a complete wrap-around, I can open the kilt to its maximum length and even use it in lieu of a beach towel to claim my spot on the sand. After I've had my fun in the waves, I return to land and air dry a bit before wrapping the kilt back around my waist and stealthily dropping the trunks - again, all without the need of a private, enclosed area to change.

I would say that, in more urban areas, I'm not as concerned about functionality so much as what my getup says about my character, but no matter my inclination, the kilt remains functional. Inherent usefulness aside, sometimes I do just like to give folks something to look at while they're on vacation, and I like to think I do a pretty good job.

In the case of this photo showing my Workman's model Utilikilt, the weather had more than a few folks sweating and shifting their weight uncomfortably from one foot to another, but I was chilling with my built-in air-conditioning and enjoying the sights of the city.

If you haven't guessed by the brick sidewalk and timely metalwork I'm clinging to, this next shot might alert a few seasoned travelers that I'm in Savannah, GA. The hotel featured here is called The Mansion, and the high-class facility definitely lives up to the name. I and the bifurcated fellow I'll admit to being related to got to dine on a very gourmet brunch inside the impressive hotel. Couldn't resist the typical tourist-style shot in front of the building.

I'll share another of my favorites before calling it quits on this post, and that, dear readers, is the mighty Mississippi. If you've never seen the river before, it is certainly a marvel worth your attention - even more so if you're able to feel the breeze rising up from the water; very refreshing when pants aren't in the way to interrupt. In this particular shot, I'm actually in the state with the same name, and I wager I'll be visiting again soon before too long (maybe on my way back home in a few days?)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Travelling Salesman

Here's my pitch:

Probably my favorite thing to do in a kilt is travel. My family is the type to take those special road trips designed to cram four close relatives into a sardine can with a metric ton of baggage blocking the rear view mirror. Who doesn't like those kinds of vacations? At any rate, one thing I absolutely DO NOT enjoy is being cooped up in the mobile box of steel with a pair of trousers on: assuredly what comes to mind for my male readers is the awkward bunching up of fabric and warmth in our nether regions, accompanied by the all-too-frequent but necessary picking at said area to free up some space and comfort - usually at the dismay of any other passengers unfortunate enough to glance in the poor fellow's direction.

Why do that to yourself?

Gentlemen, in a kilt, the days of awkward readjustments you only think you're addressing with the skill and stealth of a ninja (trust me - everyone notices) are gone. Think, if you will, how liberating it must be to sit comfortably in your Hummer, Ford F350, suped-up Titan, or, in my case, hybrid Prius (what? It gets killer mileage) for hours without having to adjust yourself beyond shifting in the seat to relax that oh-so-satisfied rear end. If that's not enough, you can enjoy a full range of motion without the normal restrictions of pant legs to drag you down, a very desirable ability on those long stretches of highway. (And if it ever gets a bit toasty, just lift a pleat to the AC vent and chill out.)

I certainly enjoyed it - more than the usual, bifurcated journey, anyhow. It at least makes "I spy" and "20 Questions" more bearable.