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Archive for the ‘crafts’ Category

Hello,

This week I’m back talking about unusual colour words but this one is an eponym, magenta.

Shades of magenta

Shades of magenta

I’ve magenta in my watercolour box but rarely use it unless working on flowers. There really isn’t that much bright pink in real life, unless you’re female and under the age of nine.

I recently discovered that magenta is an eponym. Magenta is a town in Lombardy, Italy. On the 4th of June 1859 Napoleon faced General Franz Gyulai of Austrian there and nearly 9,000 troops died. Their bones were gathered in an ossuary which still exists today.

Meanwhile the very first red aniline dyes hit the market under the names fuchsine or roseine (probably named to be like carmine, another dye/watercolour paint and similar to two flower names). They didn’t sell. When the name was changed to magenta in honour of the battle of the same name, and the rather gruesome association with blood reds, it flew off the shelves. Flowery names don’t sell paint apparently.

Interested in eponyms? Check out my earlier posts on cardigan, wellington, braille, bork, bowler hat, lynch, ferris wheel, boycott, guillotine.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

This week’s word is hodgepodge (pronunciation here), and its close cousins hotchpotch and mishmash. All three terms describe a mixture of different things, a jumble of items without order or reason.

hodgepodge of ribbons (1)

Hodgepodge of Ribbons

 

Any crafter has a box, basket or jar containing a hodgepodge. My mother had her button tin thriftily containing snipped off buttons from clothes outgrown by family members, plus odd zips, buckles, and clips of various types. I adored rummaging in it. My daughter has several hodgepodge boxes and jars filled with shells, stones, buttons, beads, and string. As a crocheteer I’ve a large oddments basket stuffed with ends of balls of yarn used as colour inspiration and for smaller trims and striped hats for charity.

A Hodgepodge Jar

A Hodgepodge Jar

Perhaps the crafting female of the species is most drawn to this pack-rat ability to cluster items in a hodgepodge. Anybody creating mood boards on pinterest is channelling the same urge. But most of us will also know a small boy who, if forced to, will turn out an amazing mishmash of items from his pocket (sticks, a feather, broken crayon, a leftover sweet, ammo for a long-lost toy). The adult male will claim to be immune to such gathering but if you investigate closely you will find either a box or drawer containing old plugs, a hotchpotch of batteries, and spare screws. My own DH gathers wood because of his wood-carving hobby so I find hodgepodges of timbers, all sizes, slipped behind trees to dry outdoors or perched in odd places around our shed waiting to fall on me when I pull out the spade.

hotchpotch of yarn

It doesn’t surprise me that there are so many charming terms for these random collections or that hodgepodge dates back to the 15th century. We humans started as gatherers as well as hunters, remember. In some ways this blog is my hodgepodge of unusual words.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling.

Grace

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Hello,

After an eventful weekend (my nine-year old son broke his arm and required surgery to re-align it) I did consider a medical word for this week. But the rough fabric around his cast was on my mind today. So here’s a list of words for describing fabric which might prove useful in describing characters’ outfits.

I’m a keen sewer but I’ve only used a handful of these, so far, as some have faded into history. The main distinction for sewers is between woven fabrics like cotton and knitted fabrics like jersey because that influences how we sew with them. But the variations are endless.

Some of my fabric stash

Some of my fabric stash

  • cotton – entwined with history
  • linen – from the flax plant, creases easily
  • felt – created by heating wool, or shrinking your favourite jumper on a hot wash
  • wool – from sheep, although other sources include goats and rabbits
  • gabardine – I associate this one with my old school coat but the word is around since 1590 and associated with Burberry since 1879. Usually closely woven wool.
  • tweed – wool, originally named tweel (the Scots for twill) but mis-read on an order form, associated with the River Tweed and the name stuck.
  • twill – weaving method used in chino, denim, drill, garbardine, serge and tweed.
  • fustian or bombast – heavy cotton for menswear, especially padding – hence the use of bombast to mean extraneous words
  • camblet – a fine wool and silk blend, also known as camlet
  • cherryderry – a light cotton and silk blend with stripes or checks
  • holland – fine cotton
  • kersey – coarse woollen cloth originally from Kersey in Suffolk, England
  • broadcloth – heavy felted wool cloth made from medieval times onwards
  • calamanco – thin wool fabric, sometimes patterned, glazed or damasked
  • linsey-woolsey – a linen and wool blend used for petticoats
  • muslin – think Jane Austen dresses and straining jam
  • calico – checked cotton
  • chiffon – light sheer fabric from cotton, silk or synthetic sources. From the French word for cloth.
  • taffeta or taffety – a Persian word for a crisp, smooth silk or synthetic fabric. Used to create the original hot air balloons, but more common in ball gowns.
  • voile – soft, sheer fabric used for curtain panels or layered in dresses. From the French word for veil.
  • tulle – a fine netting, probably orginating in the French city of the same name. Best known in ballet tutus.
  • satin and sateen – glossy front, matt back – made from silk, synethics, or cotton (sateen).
  • crepe de chine or crape – thin silk (or synethetic) fabric with a crisp appearance. Think kimono fabric.
  • bombadine – dress material, many source materials, largely used for mourning-wear.
  • silk, shot silk, raw silk – created from the cocoons of the mulberry silkworm, although many other insects create silk too. Silk and the silk road has an amazing history but I don’t have space for it all here.
  • velvet – soft fabric created using a specific weaving method from medieval times or earlier. See here for details and variants like devore, crushed etc.
  • velveteen – imitation velvet
  • velour – a plush knitted fabric sometimes found on upholstery or leotards.
  • moleskin – not from moles. A heavy cotton fabric.
  • jersey – t-shirt fabric, originally made in wool and from Jersey in the UK.
  • fleece – soft warm fabric popular in outdoor wear – can be made from recycled plastic bottles.
  • lining – usually a silky style polyester in modern times, but can be any lightweight fabric.
  • oilcloth – a heavy waxed cotton used for tablecloths and outdoor cushions (wipe-clean).
  • nylon, lycra, pvc, polyester, acrylic, velcro, gortex etc – numerous petrol-based synethic fabrics invented in modern times – some with trademark names. I like velcro because it’s named for velour and crochet combined.
  • border anglaise – delicate white cotton pierced with patterns edged with white thread.
  • corduroy – ridged like a ploughed field.
  • denim – named after the serge fabric made in Nimes in France. Jeans in their turn were named for the French term for Genoa in Italy where those trousers were first made.
  • serge – a twill fabric around since 8th century.
  • chino – cotton twill fabric popular in trousers. Word source may relate to a toasted colour, or Chinese manufacture.
  • damask – around from the early Middle ages and named for Damascus on the Silk Road – a woven, reversible fabric with the pattern woven into it.
  • leather – generally from cows.
  • furs – sadly from almost any animal caught by man. Ermine being from a stoat or weasel.
  • kid – white leather from goat kids. To handle with kid gloves (a delicate situation) means that you made clear you leave no smudge or stain upon the situation.

I’m sure this list isn’t complete, can you add any?

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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addictive_blog_awardHello,

Many thanks to Kimberly Sullivan for nominating me for The Addictive Blog Award. Kimberly is one of the beta readers for my current novel-in-revision “Hooked” over on Critique Circle and she blogs about her own women’s fiction writing and her varied travels from her base in Rome. I’ll be using her local hints for my trip to Rome this June.

For this award I need to write about why I blog and then nominate ten other blogs that I find addictive.

Why I blog

I began blogging in the spring of 2009 with the aim of sharing my passion for unusual and fun words. My first word was flibbertigibbet, so that will give you the general idea. Since then I’ve explored the meaning and origins of strange words every week and sometimes talked about my writing, especially during November when I’m a Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month or when I’ve had a new piece published. My love of gardening creeps in now and then too.

Nominate Others

The following ten blogs (in alphabetical order) are ones I visit regularly because I share their passions…

  • Carolann Copland of Carousel Creates – I was lucky enough to spend a blissful and educational weekend as Carousel Creates, the writing retreat in the Dublin Mountains, this spring and Carolann is a real lady.
  • Errol and Debbie at Nanotoons – I really shouldn’t waste time during November reading comics online and watching a crazy NaNo musical, but I can’t resist because they are just so funny and I think they might have based the insane ML on me.
  • Ficticious Amo –  anybody who’s actually tweeted with Toby from the West Wing is cool in my book but meeting AnneMarie in person at Carousel and listening to her amazing fiction made me realise that she’s effortlessly cool all by herself. Read her fiction and be transported into her world.
  • Hope Clark – Hope has been writing about writing for a long time and she brings her trademark common sense and wit to everything she does. I am a huge fan of her newsletters (which I have been honoured to write features for in the past) and her blog is great too.
  • The Irish Writers’ Centre Blog – I’m biased because I guest posted for this blog during NaNoWriMo 2011, but actually it’s an interesting blog because it is populated by guest posts by all levels and types of writers who are joined by just one thread – they write in Ireland.
  • Jade at CraftHope – regular readers of my blog will know that I craft. I crochet, sew, make jewellery, paint, make cards, and basically have more arts and crafts supplies in my home than is sensible. So when I came across Craft Hope it was a eureka moment. Jade, a stay-at-home mom of four in Texas, began the blog in 2009 as a way of co-ordinating hand-crafted gifts for those that need them. The first project generated 27 pillow dresses for kids in Mexico made by Jade and some online crafting friends. Since then it was blossomed beyond belief. She’s on project 21 now and has helped more than 100,000 children and adults in need right around the globe. There’s a great book of projects (and suggested venues to donate them too) and I cannot recommend her site and her projects enough. If you know anybody who crafts – direct them here so they can make a difference with their skills.
  • Kristin and Kelly at Dinner du Jour –  love good food for your family? Then you’ll love this blog written by two old friends, now seperated by the Atlantic and blogging together to bridge the gap. Kristin used to be in my knitting group and was a great knitter, but honestly – her recipes are even better.
  • The Madwoman in the Attic – I met Lisa in my role as a mentor for National Novel Writing Month. I think I’m a compulsive reader (witness my Reading 501 books blog) but she puts me in the shade and in her role as a bookseller for Waterstones bookshop in Drogheda she is ideally placed to promote great writing. Want something amazing to read? Ask Lisa.
  • PurlBee – my favourite crafting blog. Beautifully photographed, brilliantly detailed, and endlessly inspiring. Covers crochet, knit, sewing, embroidery, weaving and general craft.
  • QuickCrop – Andrew and Niall grow vegetables and they know what they’re talking about when it comes to growing them in Ireland, which is important because our growing season is different to the South of England which is where a lot of our seeds originate. Not only that but they’re irreverent bloggers who share useful tips for gardeners experienced and less so. They also make great raised bed kits that form the skeleton of my own veg plot in my back garden.

Thank you all for writing such great blogs. I love reading them. I’ll be back next week with more unusual words at Wordfoolery, but until then happy reading, writing, and wordfooling.

Grace

 

 

 

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Use your Noggin

Hello,

I’m trying to use my noggin this week as my children and husband return to academia and I crank up my writing schedule. So this week’s word is noggin.

In the dim and distant past I played cricket for my school team. We had a lovely coach who came in weekly to teach teenage girls purely because he loved the sport himself. He always advised us to use our noggins and to play smarter than the opposing team. He’d tap his forehead as he dispensed this wisdom.

But years later I came across a reference to noggin that had nothing to do with the head or brains. It turned out that noggins were small drinking cups carved out of wood. The one being spoken of was made by a Canadian trapper in the 18th century and had ornate carving on the outside surface.

The noggin (and yes, if you do a quick search online you’ll find steps for making one yourself) is carved from the burr/burl of a tree – those knobbly deformed lumps on the side of a trunk. You hollow it out and you’ve got yourself a noggin. They were used as portable drinking cups (dipping into a well or stream). Wikipedia suggests the word comes from nog, an ale in England and adds that it became noigin or noigean in Irish/Gaelic which perhaps is how it found its way to my Irish cricket coach. They do resemble the top of a skull.

I checked my dictionary at home too and it has the informal definition of head and “small mug”. It added that a nog or nogg is a peg or stump in wood work. But I enjoyed the first definition for noggin – “small amount of liqour”. This means you could drink your noggin of nog in your noggin.

It’s enough to make my noggin spin.

Until next time, happy reading, writing and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

All things small are on my mind this week as I begin a new crocheting for charity project with my local Knit and Natter Group. We’re making hats, socks, and cardigans for premature babies as part of a campaign by the Irish Premature Babies Charity until October 2012. I made my first hat on Wednesday, it’s for a baby of about 3 pounds in weight and it is teeny weeny.

To give you some perspective, my kids were 7 pounds pounds when they were born at full term. But premature babies can be born as tiny as one pound and comparable in length to a ballpoint pen. And they get cold, hence the woolly hats. But it wasn’t until I saw the size of my hat that I had an inkling of just how vulnerable these tiny creatures are.

I tried to think of a small word for today’s blog. Miniscule sprang to mind but my thesaurus had a few more – diminutive, imperceptible, infinitesimal, insignificant, lilliputian, microscopic, miniature, minute, negligible, wee, unimportant.

Two things strike me about that list. One is that mini is a prefix to make things smaller (apparently coming from Latin “minium” a red lead used for tiny pictures in manuscripts). The second is that small is somehow seen as lacking in importance.

This doesn’t impress me. I’m not exactly tall and I’m taking it personally. I believe those teeny weeny babies that will wear my wee hats are children battling for life and love. They are far from insignificant.

Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

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Hello,

This week’s word is flocculent which I came across in “The Voyage of the Beagle” by Charles Darwin (I was reading it for my 501 Books Challenge) when he wrote “the flocculent web of the gossamer spider”.

It means to have a fluffy or woolly appearance and there’s a pronunciation available here.

I had a touch of the old flocculents about my brain yesterday in the aftermath of my birthday, and perhaps one lemoncello too many.

But today I’m ready to tackle a new flocculent activity. The Irish Premature Babies Charity are looking for crafters to knit or crochet hat, socks, cardigans for premature babies in super soft yarn in time for International Prematurity Day (November 17th) and my knitting group are taking part. We’re called The D Knitters and you’ll find us and details of the request on Ravelry. I just need to pick up some baby yarn, as I don’t have any in my big bag of wool.

Until next time, happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace

 

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