Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The State of Michigan has its own TARTAN

A small scarf showing the stripe pattern in the warp on one end, and the exact same stripe sequence woven into the weft with a 2/2 twill interlacement, producing the tartan pattern that is now accepted as the "State of Michigan Tartan", on the other end.

Building a warp, one thread at a time, counting the color stripes carefully and keeping the thread order with a "cross".

Weaving in the weft with one shuttle each for the five colors. I find that playing Scottish Country Dance music is perfect for keeping the rhythm of the counting/treadling/shuttling/and laying in the weft, without losing track of the color sequence.

The "sett" of the Michigan Tartan (the color sequence and thread count that describes a named tartan) is BG18* W2 BG8 W2 T8 DG2 T4 DG24 DR4 DG4* (* = pivot points, double the threads for full stripe width) BG-blue green for the Great Lakes and many inland lakes; DG-deep green for Michigan's forests, rolling hills and meadows; T-tan for the sand dunes, Petoskey stones and roads for the model T; W-white for our snow, fruit blossoms, lake ice and summer clouds; DR-deep red for the autumn maples, cherries, apples and red-top grass.

After years of work by many Scotish organizations and individuals the especially designed plaid, now called "Michigan Tartan" has been declared the official state tartan with signatures of Governor Granholm and Lt. Governor Cherry.
Detroit St. Andrews Society (past president), Scott David was especially committed to this effort.
Thank you so much for everyone's interest, efforts and energy that led to the final, official declaration giving our beautiful state its own tartan! I am honored to have been involved in the design, but without the efforts of many, many people, Michigan having its own tartan would never have happened. I am a textile designer, not a promoter, nor do I have any political connections. Others efforts were absolutely key to this final adoption.
The original design began many years ago with an October morning view of Lake Huron with sun on the whitecaps, red-top grass in the sand, all emerging from the cedar forest. Through the following day, weeks, and months a cloth design emerged as a tartan (striped warp with matching striped weft). I wove up a scarf using the pattern and liked it. This was over 10 years ago.

The design was refined with input from others involved in Scottish Societies, Pipe Bands, Highland Dance, and weavers of tartan around the state. As I was an active member of the Scottish Tartans Authority with another design to my name, I recorded it as "Michigan Up North". (A tartan may not be a 'state tartan' without the official consent of the state. ) The energetic and well-connected Mr. Scott David began the process of finding official approval. Last Saturday I received a copy of the Certificate declaring that this design was now officially THE STATE OF MICHIGAN tartan.

I am very pleased that our beautiful state of Michigan finally has its own official tartan. I am honored that I was involved in the design. Now the tartan mills of Scotland and handweavers everywhere can weave their own copies. I hope that handweavers in states still without their own tartans will learn the joys of tartan weaving and design a plaid to represent them, then find citizen support to have it made official. Many countries around the world have their own tartans. Many organizations and all the provinces of Canada have their own tartans.

Now, MICHIGAN (my Michigan) has its own tartan. Hurrah!
Kati on Thanksgiving, 2010 eve. Revised 12-4-10


  1. Great job Kati, I have not woven any tartans in a long time and often think about doing some. They made me a better weaver.

    Thanks for your work on this project. It is beautiful.
    Pam Arquette

  2. Beautiful tartan for our state, Kati. I found it interesting that you counted your ends from the center of the wide stripes instead of from the edge. Is there a reason it is done that way? I've never tried weaving a tartan. If I ever do, I will try this one. Happy Thanksgiving!
    Jenny Bellairs, Charlevoix, MI

  3. Jenny, there are two conventions for writing out a tartan pattern. I used the convention with half the pivot points stated. It is ALWAYS important for the convention used, to be stated. Using half the stripe count of the pivot makes it easier to be accurate when laying out a cloth with repeats of the pattern. As a handweaver, this is most important to me.

    Thanks for the comments. Kati

  4. Are there any shops online that sell goods with your Michigan Tartan pattern? I haven't been able to find any.

  5. Also, the image at the bottom with the shape of Michigan on top of it appears to be a completely different pattern than the others. Are there variations? What's the pattern at the bottom with more red? Thanks again, Nick.

  6. I think this is great. I see the tartan in the registry, but I cannot find any official documentation from the state of Michigan the way I can for the California state tartan. Is there a state code number we can refer to?

  7. I just want to know where we can purchase some of the tartans for the state of Michigan