Over the past couple of years, Tom has taken to ofttimes wearing a simple cotton bandana tied around his neck while hiking, traveling, or pretty much any time he felt like it. While hiking, the bandana provided protection from sun, wind, and cold; when traveling, it could serve as a make-do tablecloth, a way to dry hands, or to protect a small delicate souvenir. And for those pretty much any times, it could be used to wrap around a glass jar used as a coffee mug or as a headband to prevent sweat from dripping into the eyes.
That was all well and good, but not quite good enough for Tom. He imagined that having such an item made of wool rather than cotton might expand its utility even further, adding seasons/temperatures/situations in which it might prove useful. He made samples of various sizes and fabric weights, testing them all thoroughly, finally arriving on an optimal 27” / 70cm square of lightweight wool.
With us so far?
Next up was finding a source for the wool fabric, which you’d think would be easy but proved a greater challenge than expected. After many dead ends, quite serendipitously Tom stumbled upon a mill in Scotland that not only wove their own fabric, but also manufactured items somewhat akin to his prototype. Yes, you heard that right, Scotland. And yes that means tartans.
The wool, sourced in New Zealand and Australia, is lightweight and by most folks opinion pretty darn soft and itchless (your mileage may vary). The Shepherd's Wool Utility Cloth is, as a travel accessory, superbly useful: it's an ad hoc table cloth, a (very) minimalist blanket on a drafty airplane, a wrap to protect an impromptu purchase of a bottle of wine, a flag to wave at parting friends (or maybe partying friends). Properly tied around one’s neck, it can be as warm as a bulky scarf, yet it takes up almost no space whatsoever when folded in your bag or backpack.
The Shepherd's Wool Utility Cloth hand washes easily and dries quickly; wash it in the hotel sink with a tiny bit of soap, hang it, and it'll be dry before you know it. Please don't machine wash -- and never machine dry -- your Shepherd's Wool Utility Cloth. Dry cleaning is fine too.
We're offering the Shepherd's Wool Utility Cloth in the following colors:
A brilliant blue; may remind one of the deepest blue in a peacock feather.
A dusky purple/grey.
A full, vibrant yellow-gold.
A stately grey.
That you-can't-go-wrong shade of deep black.
A red/black/green plaid; more red than the other two colors.
Home Modern tartan
A navy/red/green plaid; more navy than the other two colors.
Tom claims that if you drape one over your face while napping on the airplane, you’re almost certain to dream of shortbread and whiskey.