Month: January 2015

Barbie Nails

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Please excuse the dry skin, I will remember to moisturize next time! The nail polish is Perfect Pink by Revlon. This is two coats of polish and one quick dry clear coat, all over a base coat. I am just in love with the colour, it might be a little bit summery, but it’s so girly in the absolute best way! (Like, I am a real life barbie doll and yes, all of my accessories are pink- type of pink)

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Plaid vs. Tartan

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I thought it might be fun to try something new in 2015. One of my main hobbies is reading, or rather, learning. I will read anything, but I absolutely devour histories. So I thought it might be fun to explore the intersection of the subject of my blog with my love of history. Plus I totally love educating people (I recognize fact that education might only be happening to myself). But there’s a little voice inside my head that goes “If I long for this type of post on a blog, someone out there must also be looking for it!” Faulty Logic? Perhaps. Anyways, without further ado I give to you: Plaid vs. Tartan!

I love plaid. Everyone loves plaid. Sometimes I like to think of myself as a plaid elitist because I was raised in rural Quebec and I have more real-life beard growing, axe throwing, bear hunting lumberjacks in my family than I have fingers on my hands (I still have all ten of my fingers, by the way… I can’t say as much for some of the lumberjacks in my family…). But lately as I’ve scoured the malls for a plaid blanket scarf, I found myself calling certain patterns plaids, and others tartans. And I couldn’t help but (internally) cry, “Someone please enlighten me!” But no one did, so I did it myself!

If you look up the word plaid in a dictionary, you’ll find a few definitions [1]:

  1. A rectangular length of tartan worn over the left shoulder as part of the scottish national costume
  2. a) A twilled woolen fabric with a tartan pattern
    b) A fabric with a pattern of tartan or an imitation of tartan
  3. a) Tartan
    b) A pattern of unevenly spaced repeated stripes crossing at right angles

But a quick search for the origin of the word plaid reveals that the word is related to the gaelic word plaide meaning blanket or mantle [2]. So what we call the kilt, actually first appeared in what was called a “belted plaid”, literally like a belted blanket [3]. It looked like this (fun fact it doubled as a blanket for the night… much like our modern trend of blanket scarves). It was the predecessor to the kilt, today modern kilts are still worn with plaids (long length of fabric), but over the shoulder (separate piece of fabric, like this) [3]. Somewhere along the way, notably as the tartan wearers immigrated to America, the actual pattern was mistakenly called plaid.

So the correct word for the actual pattern is tartan. But then… where does the word tartan come from? Where does the pattern come from?

The fact is those who hold the answers to those questions have long, long been buried. The oldest tartan fabric we know of comes to us from the Tarim mummies.The Tarim mummies, named after the Tarim Basin in Xinjiang, China (the most north-west region of China) where they were found, were found with pieces of preserved cloth, exhibiting tartan patterns. Contrary to intuition, these mummies don’t exhibit asiatic features, rather, they seem to be “from the west” [4]. The name for the culture that the Tarim mummies belonged to was the Tokharians whose language is most similar to that of the Celts [5]. See those interesting paths starting to form? Unfortunately, we seem to know much more than that. How tartan became so strongly associated with the Scottish is a mystery, we can only assume that they saw it, liked it, and wanted to wear it!

Oh and one more thing, clan-tartans are modern inventions. In the origins of Scottish tartans the colours were determined by plant availability and to some degree personal taste [3]. When I say modern, I mean like, victorian-era, so today the tradition of clan tartans have been going long enough to not be ridiculous, but in the base of it it was all arbitrary: you retroactively picked a tartan for your clan, on the basis that you thought it was pretty.

This ended up being a heck of a lot longer than I anticipated… Please let me know if you enjoyed this (and want more! Denim vs. Chambray, anyone?) or if I should stay away from this type of post!!

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/plaid
[2] http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=plaid
[3] http://www.historichighlanders.com/attire.htm
[4] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/world/asia/19mummy.html?_r=0
[5] http://www.tartansauthority.com/tartan/the-birth-of-tartan/

2015 Knit List

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In 2014 I knit (and didn’t blog about) two infinity scarves, most of a sweater (Jessa is still missing the sleeves… I will get to those) and two pairs of mittens (herringbone mitts for myself, unblogged, and the direwolf mittens for B, which I did blog about!).

In 2015 I want to challenge myself to actually contribute to my wardrobe by knitting. Of course, I still want to make a few gifts for people (Christmas 2015 I am looking right at you!), so I won’t focus my whole year on expanding my wardrobe by hand knitting, but no matter what, I have to start somewhere!

Without further ado, the 2015 knit list!

  1. Gwynedd (for my mum)
  2. I’m hesitating between Ease and Beeline (for myself)
  3. Wishbone (for myself)
  4. Graham (for now, this is for myself… but it may be gifted… I have never tried the slouch hat!)

And the fifth item, time permitting (translation: highly unlikely this will be accomplished this year)

5. Malo, for the boyfriend.

But first… I have to finished the darn lord of the rings scarf (it’s only darn because I made so many mistakes 😦 )

PS. When I took that picture, it was “so cold” (it was really only like -25) that the servo motors for autofocus stopped functioning after 15-20 minutes outside! My breath even froze all over the LCD screen! Unfortunately it was so much more beautiful than in real life than what I could capture!

The Road goes ever on and on…

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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

I hope you can see the effect I was going for in the photo above. I wanted the scarf to look a little bit like a road going off into the distance. Since my photography skills are lacking, you will just have to trust me when I say this definitely feels like a long road!

Perhaps you remember this post about my previous failures with the scarf. I casted on again, this time with 3 mm dpns, and away I went! Only, it didn’t go so smoothly…

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