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39 Choosing ...

Apologies for the interlude, again. April just threw so much my way, good and bad, that something had to give and more than once that something was this blog. This rickety old blog that I urgently need to fix.

And thank you so much for all your feedback regarding the Disqus commenting system, which clearly isn't popular. Personally I didn't mind it so much, but I dug a little deeper and rapidly changed my mind. Disqus, it seems, will soon be data mining all comments in order to better target the ads it intends to allow Disqus using bloggers to foist upon you, should they so choose. Ads that although marked 'Sponsored' will show up in comments threads looking like part of the discussion".

Not that Google's updated (late last year, when the 'I'm not a robot' prompt first appeared) No Captcha reCaptcha commenting system is annoyance free. I'd been glibly assuming that with word verification set to 'No' not one of my readers would need to jump through hoops to comment here, and then up popped Pia, who uses her WordPress ID to log in, with mention of a captcha. And I checked, and of course she's right, and it's awful. My humblest apologies to Pia and to anyone else who is affected, I had no idea! And I've no idea what to do about it, there's no option to turn it off. One solution would be to re-enable the name/url sign in and start moderating comments in order to filter out spam, but I tried that and was immediately hit by an avalanche of the stuff. Oh bother!

So, I have another commenting question for you (with many thanks for your continued patience while I sort this out) ... if you were prompted to type in your name (any name, all aliases accepted), and (optionally) your email address and/or website url (so your comment would link back to your blog) every time you commented, but there were no captchas of any kind, for anyone, and no data mining or ads, would you be more or less likely to join the conversation?

In my last post I quoted Buckminster Fuller - The minute you choose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life - and declared that I was busy choosing, but I didn't give you any kind of context for that statement. I'm still not at liberty to - oh how I loathe this alluding to secret stuff thing that bloggers do and here I am doing it, sorry - but I thought I should maybe mention that I'm wrestling with real world decisions here not some kind of existential angst.

And one of those decisions has been made ... I'm going to focus my creative energy on coaxing colour from plants - locally foraged and home-grown - and applying that colour to cloth and yarn and thread. Of course I'll still knit and sew when my dodgy shoulder allows, and I'll continue to take photographs because I always have, but I've been a natural dyer on and off for thirty years and it's about time I got over whatever's been holding me back, embraced the fact, and made my dye practice my work. Somehow.

It's quite possible you've skipped through this post muttering to yourself, 'She's wittering about commenting again', and 'Telling us you can't tell us, very enlightening', but if you've any interest in textiles at all, and particularly in ethical clothing, don't skip this video (which totally encapsulates what has and does drive me as a natural dyer) ...

Deepa Preeti Natarajan.


35 Reflections

Jug of eucalyptus on a table/.

The minute you chose to do what you really want to do, it's a different kind of life.
R. Buckminster Fuller

Busy choosing, back (very) soon.

Propped against the wall: a magazine clipping, Vivian Maier, undated self-portrait.

In the jug: sprigs of an unidentified eucalyptus that's growing at the end of the garden. Any guesses?

I've another question for you. Disqus commenting ... good or bad? But before you answer, if you struggle with it because you're prompted to sign in almost every time you use it, that's down to those bloggers who don't have Single Sign-On (SSO) enabled. With SSO switched on you'd only need to sign in on your first visit, and you wouldn't need to sign in at all, or have a Disqus account, if guest commenting was enabled. So, your thoughts? I ask because it's an option on Squarespace, but I won't move the blog there if it's not a viable option ... one of the best bits of blogging is chatting with you in the comments and I don't want to lose that.


49 The Colour Collaborative: April: Red

Portrait of Edward VI

Books on dyes and pigments, and on colour history, theory, and symbolism, spill from one shelf to another in my studio bookcase, and always there are more to add. Many, in whole or in part, are about red. I have so much information on the subject that when I came to write this post I struggled to find a focus for it. I found myself considering colour words - red, and its cousins, scarlet, crimson, and vermillion - and, as you do, the coronation of nine year old Edward VI, on February 20th 1547.

Edward wore crimson silk velvet that day; the Archbishop of Canterbury, the justices, and the gentlemen of his household wore scarlet; and his more lowly attendants wore red wool (probably dyed with madder). The distinction is an important one.

Scarlet was a costly woollen broadcloth, woven from the so-called March wools - fine wools from Shropshire and Herefordshire, the English counties bordering Wales - and was commonly dyed with kermes red, a substantive dye derived from the egg sacs of the female scale insect. The word described the cloth before it described the colour and in its beginnings as a colour adjective it was only applied to wool.

To avoid an ugly repetition scarlet-coloured scarlet was vermiglio in Italy and vermeil in France, from the Latin vermiculous, or 'little worm', giving us vermillion. Similarly the Sanskrit krmi-ja, 'red dye produced by worms', is at the root of both kermes, the dyestuff, and crimson, a colour name originally reserved for kermes dyed silk. But in English the desiccated Coccid egg sacs were named for the 'grain' they resembled, and the dye process descriptive 'scarlet in grain', gave us another word we're all familiar with, 'ingrained'.

To give you a notion of why kermes was such an expensive dyestuff, and crimson silks and scarlet wools so highly valued, imagine how many of those (pea-sized at best) 'grains' were in the fifteen or so kilograms of kermes used to dye just 40 ells (that's not quite 30 meters) of cloth. And remember that each 'grain' was plucked by hand from the evergreen Mediterranean oaks on which scale insects exclusively feed. Nuff said?

Kermes ... til lately believed to be a vegetable excrescence, but it is now known to be the body of a species of Coccus ... In Languedoc, about the middle of May, when this insect has attained to its proper size, the harvest commences and the peasants begin to gather it. The harvest continues to about the middle of June, or later, but one heavy storm of rain puts an end to the gathering for that year. The persons employed in this business are women, who set out early in the morning, with a lantern and a glazed earthen pot ... According as the winter has been more or less mild, the harvest of kermes is the more or less plentiful; and the people always presage themselves a fine season when the spring has been free from frosts and fogs ... When the kermes is dried there comes out of it an infinite number of insects so small that they are scarcely visible; insomuch, that the whole inward substance seems converted into them. The shell is nothing but the body of the mother, distended by the growth of the eggs.

The London Encyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Science, 1829

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below ...

Sandra at Cherry Heart       Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

CJ at Above the River       Jennifer at Thistlebear     

What is The Colour Collaborative?
All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

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