John Watson Gordon, James Hogg (1830). © National Galleries of Scotland.

I’ve been working on a piece for Yarn Forward about tweed. In the course of my research, I’ve been reading a lot about the Maud: the shepherd’s plaid traditionally worn in the Scottish Borders. This is John Watson Gordon’s portrait of James Hogg, best known as the author of the tremendous Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824). In the portrait, he carries a shepherd’s crook and his maud is displayed prominently over his gentleman’s attire. Hogg’s maud — the sign of his local attachment to the landscape and traditions of the Borders — is here much more than a visual conceit. He was a working man who had grown up tending cows and sheep in the Yarrow valley, and, after achieving a degree of literary fame, was always known as the Ettrick Shepherd. My friend Meiko, an expert on Hogg, told me a great anecdote about him wrapping his maud about his shoulders before running all the way to Edinburgh in pursuit of his literary fortunes. He was 40 at the time.

Hogg, and his friend Sir Walter Scott did much to popularise the textile traditions of the Scottish Borders — by writing about them, and by wearing them too. By the 1840s, the distinctive monochrome checked tweed, produced in Selkirk, Galashiels and Hawick had achieved immense popularity all over Britain, and was worn by both men and women.

It is still popular now!


Last weekend we had a great time in the Borders, tracking down some tweed, and checking out the celebrations at Scott’s Selkirk. There were many mauds in evidence. This one was clearly in need of refreshment:


And the construction of this one demonstrates the closed ends and original use of the maud — for carrying lambs.


Of course, after seeing all these mauds I wanted to try one for myself. I bought several waste lengths of borders tweed from Selkirk’s most exciting emporium (well, it is to me anyway)– the wonderful Hinnigan. You may remember that the lovely Helen first introduced me to Hinnigan a while ago, and then I made this cosy blanket out of their fabric. I love the textures and colours of their tweed, and really can’t speak highly enough of it, for both quality and contemporaneity. As well as selling by the metre, Hinnigan also design fabric for fashion at the catwalk end of the market. They also produce fabric for a couple of familiar high-end stores on the UK high street. I have admired Hinnigan’s tweed for years in the form of wonderful wool coats and skirt suits, without realising where it came from. . . .


I think many of you will be able to identify the shops in question.

Anyway, I got several thin lengths of waste Hinnigan tweed and whipped myself up a quick prototype. I chopped the length into four, and sewed the four pieces together to create a sort of T square shawl shape. I then cut out and attached a lining – and bingo.


I am quite excited by the possibilities of this garment. It is very warm, and very wearable. (Well, I think so anyway — and who cares if I go about looking like some sort of Victorian re-enactor? Certainly not me. . .) Perhaps, when (if?) I get some time, I will attempt a grey Borders maud, in honour of James Hogg’s.


Apologies for the quality of these photographs. My abilities with the self-timer in poor winter light are limited. More maud experiments anon (if I can fit them in amongst all the writing, other work, and frantic Christmas crafting…)

23 thoughts on “maud

  1. I was thrilled to read the article about the Maud. A similar garment was described by the late Dorothy Burnham as a ‘man’s plaid’. They were handwoven in the early to mid 19th century by Scottish immigrant weavers to what is now Ontario. The Royal Ontario Museum, where Dorothy Burnham worked, and the Textile Museum of Canada (both in Toroto) have a few examples of these plaids: They are about 6 meters long, and woven of the finest wool in their natural colours. Such a plaid was given to a young men upon reaching adulthood and it was supposed to last him the rest of his life. De ones I saw in Toronto are of a quality to last that long. The same weavers also made plaids for women but they were square, more like a square paisly shawl, and also of wool in its natural colour.
    My reference is The Comfortable Arts by Dorothy Burnham.


  2. Beautiful! I had no idea Maud was anything other than a name, or a nickname for Matilda. What an interesting history. I sort of want a maud now, but it seems like rather a useless item around here, unfortunately. While I’m usually all for the mild California weather, right now I’m thinking it might be kind of neat to have cause to wear more clothes.


  3. …and I thought Maud was Bea Arthur of Maude TV fame … US, 1970s. Once again, I learn something completely new from you. I so enjoy your blog and thoughts on all. I like your color choice on your Maud too.


  4. As always your post are wonderful!
    it looks amazing! And it looks so, so warm! I thought I would nedd very warm clothes just for scotland, but how wrong I was, I wish I had one of those to wear in this cold house in Portugal!


  5. Love it! Now you need some knickers to go along with. Here’s the thing they don’t tell you about knickers: They are surprisingly comfortable and pyjama-like. I think I may need a maud for myself…


  6. how fascinating! thank you for introducing me to the Maud (I love history of costume contextualised with social history)
    I remember being smitten with a similar garment worn by the Jacobites when I first saw it. It gives a certain robust, romantic swagger.
    Yours is fabulous.


  7. Interesting post, Kate. Stevan has been studying James Hogg this semester. He made it up as far north as Ullapool apparently. It’s sad how Edinburgh society eventually rejected him.
    Glad to see Hinnigan’s is still up to standard :-)


  8. Its made of two rectangles (20 inches by 60 inches), joined together at right angles. So there is a 90 degree point and a shawl-like triangle where the two rectangles meet, and then two long ‘arms’ to fling about the shoulders. Does this make any sense? I’ll take a pic of the construction at some point.


  9. I love your maud, and all the more for the Victorian re-enactment! The colour, the lighting and the hair adds to this; imagine yourself scurrying along a darkened street with a lantern…
    I’m a bit hesitant in asking (since I should really just figure it out myself, like a good girl/costume interpreter), but is it just a large triangle?
    Thanks !


  10. Oh, your prototype certainly fits in with the rest of the Mauds. I have a special interest in Scottish textiles in particular, tweeds, and your post just added more to my interest. If and when I visit Scotland, I’ll be sure to explore a lot about textiles (how they’re made or worn etc)!

    Cheers and happy holidays.


  11. Your maud looks lovely. The blanket-in-public idea reminds me of the episode of Sherlock Holmes on ITV “The Devil’s Foot” where Jeremy Brett wanders round the Cornish coast with a crocheted blanket draped over one shoulder. I’ve been wondering if that’s authentic or not!


  12. I love the bit about carrying lambs. As always, your blog is both gorgeous and full of amazing information! I’ll have lots of new tidbits the next cocktail party I attend with fiber fiends….


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