The year was 1977 and the man was John F. Turnbull of Hawick, Scotland. John founded Turnbull Clan Association to reestablish a link with Turnbulls worldwide and their rich heritage. Working endlessly with his wife Myra as his personal assistant, the two wrote letters and addressed envelopes by hand, mailing to any Turnbull worldwide that they could find. They would sit in their living room and plan Turnbull events with fellow members and write to members. Then Myra would address envelope after envelope. Myra tells how she gave up her golf afternoon to work with John and promote the Clan.
Let us assume then that all Scots love their tartan. That done, we shall proceed to the following questions: What is tartan? Where did it come from? Who invented it? Why do Scots put such a high importance on it? If tartan is plaid, is plaid tartan? Is tartan plaid? These questions may be among the great mysteries of the universe though personally I doubt it. In the following lines this writer shall attempt to answer at least a few of these things which we may chance to ponder…To understand tartan we must first understand weaving and to understand weaving we must understand spinning, and so forth and so on until we’re back to running around in naught but our skin. We’ll skip all that and jump ahead a few millenniums to the point where humans are dressed and weaving their cloth. Here then is the story of the tartan:The Tartan: What, Where, When, Why?First thing, the basics, starting with a definition of the term Tartan which is; A fabric, normally woven of wool that consists of stripes of varying width and color. These stripes run vertically (the warp), with matching stripes running horizontally, (the weft). The result is a pattern that appears to be squares crossed by stripes. This pattern is known as the sett. The final tartan is a repeating run of the sett. There are now varying weights of cloth produced as tartans and many, many various patterns representing not only the clans of Scotland but different governments, school, bands and many other organizations willing to pay for the design and manufacture. Tartans are probably the most recognizable symbol of our Scottish heritage today. It is estimated that there are between 3,500 and 7,000 tartans currently in use.