Robert Mackie Finest Scottish Bonnets
Robert Mackie Finest Scottish Bonnets - Robert Mackie of Scotland are very proud of their heritage and rightly so. Robert Mackie bonnets trace their origins to the early ceremonial headwear of Scottish regiments. With a reputation for exacting standards, we’re the only authentic Scottish manufacturer of Glengarries and Balmorals in the world.
At The House of Labhran we have supplied a wide range of patterns all hand crafted by Robert Mackie Scotland. Today we supply leading pipe bands, sporting gentlemen, solo pipers and Scottish Clan organisations around the world.
The ‘Made in Scotland’ label stands for quality and craftsmanship. Made from pure wool, every hat is hand-sewn to measure in the heart of Ayrshire. The bonnet making techniques have been passed down in Stewarton through generations; it takes years to become fully qualified in the craft. Finished with tied ribbons or ribbon tals and a silk style cockade.
The Balmoral bonnets, Glengarries, Kilmarnock bonnets and Tam O Shanter bonnets maintain their appearance and, if dry-cleaned or hand-washed carefully, will last a lifetime.
To see our full range of Scottish made Balmoral, Kilmarnock, Tam O Shanter, Atholl bonnets and glengarries please visit the hat page by following the link.
A short history of the Scottish bonnet - The blue bonnet was a type of soft woollen hat that for several hundred years was the customary working wear of Scottish labourers and farmers. Although a particularly broad and flat form was associated with the Scottish Lowlands, where it was sometimes called the "scone cap", the bonnet was also worn in parts of northern England and became widely adopted in the Highlands.
The history of Bonnet making in Stewarton is believed to date back to the end of the 16th century, and the records of the original Guild of Bonnet Makers date back into the 17 century. They make fascinating reading, as they show how the men (and only men) who knitted the bonnets controlled the trade. They appointed inspectors or ‘sichters’ as they were called, to inspect the quality of the bonnets, and fines were imposed for such things as underweight bonnets, weighing bonnets when they were wet, or going off to work in Kilmarnock when there was an ‘idle set’ in Stewarton. (These were periods when the Guild ordered production to stop, as an excess of bonnets could mean a drop in the selling price.) The fines were collected by the treasurer, or ‘box-
Bonnets were knitted by hand, using pique needles, which were about nine inches in length. A leather belt was strapped around the knitters’ waist, and extra needles were pushed into the belt, being pulled out as required as the bonnet increased in size. Once the bonnet was complete, it was dyed using woad which produced the distinctive indigo colour. It was then steeped in urine to help make it waterproof, after which it was stretched on a stretching stool and loose ends were cut off using large shears, and a carding brush combed out the pile on the finished bonnet. ( with thanks to the Stewarton Historical Society for the information regarding the history in Stewarton).
In later years it came to be associated with Highland dress, and in the 19th century gave rise to other types of largely military headgear such as the more elaborate Balmoral bonnet, the tam o' shanter, glengarry, Kilmarnock and (with the addition of a wire cage) the military feather bonnet.