I just dropped the price of
the permaculture playing cards
for a wee bit.

 

 

uses include:
- infecting brains with permaculture
- convincing folks that you are not crazy
- gift giving obligations
- stocking stuffer
- gambling distraction
- an hour or two of reading
- find the needle
- find the 26 hidden names

clickity-click-click

  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Is plaid originally a colour map of place?  RSS feed

 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I do natural dying I tend to work in small batches. I gather the plants as I can, have small pots and do small batches of wool or linen. I can NEVER dye enough to have all of my wool done before I begin to spin and knit- my attention span is too short to stay on one task that long! So I knit as I spin, while still harvesting plants for dye, and brewing dye pots in the process. I have had to adapt my knitting to fit my working habits. I don't follow patterns, but make things up as I go, and tend to work in modular ways, so I can design on the fly by draping my knitting over a dress form and making decisions about what to do next, are short rows needed for shaping? larger colour squares to build bulk? Am I running out of chestnut brown wool? My colours are rarely consistent, even if from the same source because I have no interest in measuring anything, but dye like I cook- a few handfuls, give or take- kind of attitude.
These methods of working with my small bits of colour have led my to develop a theory on how early weavers would have dealt with colour inconsistency. That and a friend who commented she hates plaid, because she says it is the only pattern that does not exist in nature. So where does plaid come from, if not nature? I think early dyers and weavers would have worked in a way similar to myself. They would have had small pots, and likely gathered dye plants while also foraging for food, and would do small dye pots as there was room on the fire. To weave a large piece of cloth, it would look like crap with all the colour shifts in both warps and weft, even if all from the same plant- because they would not have been measuring amounts precisely, or checking water temperatures. So even if they had a whole lot of yellow wool- it would be inconsistent in tone. They likely also did bits of spinning as they could, and would not be waiting until ALL the wool was dyed, to card it together, and blend the colours that way. So they would have a bag of odds and sorts colour wise. I suspect some smart weaver realized when warping up a loom, that if they threw a line or two of a contrasting colour into the warp- it would break up the colour- and stop the eye from seeing that those yellows didn't match. Then for filling in the weft, the same thing would happen, every few inches, a dye lot would run out- so throw in a different colour for a bit, then shift to your next dye lot of that first colour- the result would create a plaid- or tartan!

That got me thinking to how we associate Scottish plaids with different family clans- where did that come from I wonder? I think it likely had to do with what plants were growing in an area, what the soil was like, the Ph of the water- all of these things would influence the colours that resulted from dying with the plants that would be found in a surrounding area where the weaver foraged. Even with the same plants, a more northern dyer/weaver would have different conditions- maybe she used an iron or copper pot- that would also impact her dyes. My theory is, that family tartans are actually geographical tartans first- they tell us the story of the colours that were available- and in what amounts in a specific region, eventually the different tartan- attached to the land from where it was created became attached to the family who lived in that place- and over time, different clans would recognize each other by what tartan they wore. Has anyone ever heard this before? I wonder how much of this concept my brain just pieced together on its own, versus if I have read something at some point that led me to this conclusion. It feels very much like something Elizabeth Wayland Barber would have written about in Women's Work: the first 20,000 years, but am pretty sure I didn't get it from there. ( if you don't know this book, it is a must read!) Regardless, I think of it as a nice little anecdote- not an academic theory, but it impacts how I put colours together now when I knit and dye- I like making regionally specific clothing, so I can say to people, this is from this park, or this is from my 10 block walk to the studio and back... it makes people stop and think.
So is plaid from nature? I think of plaid now as being from human inventiveness- it is a symbol of our creative adaptability to work with what we find around us. So yes, plaid is as much of nature as we are, and better yet- in it's truest form, a map of place. I think I have a plaid weaving made up of plants and dye lots from my surroundings in my future!
IMG_3001.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_3001.JPG]
means of production garden stripes( paulownia, arbutus, euculyptus
rudbeckia-dyes-knit-can-sub-9-92.JPG
[Thumbnail for rudbeckia-dyes-knit-can-sub-9-92.JPG]
crab park and strathcona walk- ( woad, marigold, rudbeckia
IMG_9602-(2).JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_9602-(2).JPG]
in the park my coat comes from- looking at the port bringing others good in from afar
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6038
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
404
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Elizabeth Wayland Barber .......Women's Work:


I have to get my library to find this book It keeps popping up...my friend who is a bobbin lace maker (among many other fiber arts) has, just this summer encouraged me to read it...usually it takes several mentions for something to sink in and it sounds like a great winter read.

...and again I like your line of thinking....I hadn't thought of plaids as a practical use for all of those variations of color.....it makes sense in a lot of ways. My crocheted blanket, that is the result of several batches of dyed wool, definitely represents my garden (cosmos, weld) my husbands work (bodark shavings from his wood carving), our food (organic onion skins) all local, with 'links' to our story...if I was still weaving and used those varying colors it IS likely I would have done some sort of plaid although symmetry really bugs me most of the time

Absolutely beautiful colors in your photos............and the coat is wonderful...is that the method of knitting that you describe in another post?
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
32
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Sharon,
I have been intrigued by the dessicated corpses found in the Taklamakan desert. They seem to be the best source for looking back into our past culture. I don't know if you have read any of Victor Mair's excellent books on the discovery of these ancient ancestral tombs. I've attached a video of each for those who have not heard of proto indo-europeans and their amazing matriarchal society

 
David Livingston
master steward
Posts: 3815
Location: Anjou ,France
194
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would tweed not be a better represtantive of colours of a place rather than a kilt or tartan ?

DAvid
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
32
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David,
I think she mentions tartan, because of this

some of the earliest known indo-european fabrics.
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't know if you have read any of Victor Mair's excellent books on the discovery of these ancient ancestral tombs. I've attached a video of each for those who have not heard of proto indo-europeans and their amazing matriarchal society
Thanks Bill for these links- can't wait to have some time to sit and listen to them both! and for finding those early plaids...
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would tweed not be a better represtantive of colours of a place rather than a kilt or tartan ?
David, tweed is totally a land colour map as well, just a difference in how the color are blended- before or after spinning/weaving and speaks to having a different making process.
for a tweed it might be
dye
card/blend
spin
weave
- you would need a larger amount of wool with all of your colours by the time you start blending your fibres.
tartan or plaid could be something like this...
dye card spin
dye card spin
dye card spin
dye card spin
Weave....
So I think it totally depends on the set up people had- if they were more nomadic they would do the later, if they had more space they would do the first- all guess work really! But yes- read Womens Work! it is a fascinating story that Elizabeth Wayland Barber weaves as she pieces together how these things happened...
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2153
69
bike books food preservation forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have heard that the pattern is originally from a particular area and family. In Guatemala, which also does amazing things with fabrics and colors, the pattern shows which village you come from. It's considered actually disrespectful for someone to come in and stay somewhere for a month as a visitor and "declare" themselves to be from that village. Buying it and wearing it elsewhere is of course respectful.
John S
PDX OR
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 6038
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
404
bike chicken fungi trees urban woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think this is another example of colors representing a place....from Andean Textile Arts....local natural dyes...no plaids though




1381289_725349637515049_1462165145619300279_n.jpg
[Thumbnail for 1381289_725349637515049_1462165145619300279_n.jpg]
 
Alistair MacKinnon
Posts: 2
Location: Scotland
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Your instincts are correct.. there are quite a few websites on the history of tartan and the dyes of place. Its not called plaid over here, that is actually the garment that is wrapped around, it is tartan; but the meaning of that word is not yet sure. Irish French Spanish sources have been put forward.

"Tartan only started to be used as a means of Scottish clan identification during the 19th century, but historians believe that in ancient times people could tell what area of Scotland someone was from by the shade of the dyes that were used in their clothing.

Natural dyes were produced from lichen, bark, or berries of plants and trees. Because the weavers were restricted to the colours they could produce from the local vegetation, tartans produced in the area were frequently made in the same colours and frequently even in the same pattern.

In the 18th century, a Scottish writer called Martin Martin wrote in his Description of the Western Isles of Scotland that "Every isle differs from each other in their fancy of making plaids as to the stripes in breadth and colours. This humour is as different through the mainland of the Highlands, in so far that they who have seen those places are able at first view of a man’s plaid to guess the place of his residence."

Similarly, when in the late 18th century Sir Alan Cameron of Erracht founded the Cameron Highlanders regiment, he designed a red tartan for it on the basis that the traditional tartan worn in the Lochaber region was red in colour.

During the 19th century, tartan became widespread in Scotland as a means of Scottish clan identification. Some authors maintain that -like Sir Alan Cameron- many clan chiefs might have originally adopted their tartan based on the shade of dyes that were most commonly used in their district."
http://www.tartan.galician.org/history.htm

http://www.tartansauthority.com/tartan/the-growth-of-tartan/tartan-production/colours-and-dyeing/

http://www.shilasdair-yarns.com/
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2142
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
194
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My mother's Scottish clan (Menzies, pronounced Ming-us in the Highlands) is very old, with a very simple tartan of just white and black. That got me wondering: how do you dye wool black?

I know next to nothing about natural dyes.
 
Dominik Riva
Posts: 45
Location: Haut-Rhin, France
2
bee forest garden fungi
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Julia Winter wrote:That got me wondering: how do you dye wool black?


Why would you dye wool black when there is black wool existing directly from a black sheep?

This helps a lot as a really dark black is hard to get by dyeing something.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Posts: 2142
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
194
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh yeah, black sheep!

Duh.

 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1195
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
207
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Another fun aspect of Scottish woolens is that some of the lichen-based dyes are credited with having moth-repellent properties. (I can't find the reference now, but I believe it was something about lichen-dyed tweeds, which suggests crottal lichens like parmelia-saxatilis.)
I suppose it could be other elements added during dying (some of the lichen-based purple dyes were made with all kinds of other additives like saltpeter and arsenic).

I suspect our Letharia Vulpina might have similar properties; it's supposed to be very toxic to meat-eating animals (afflicts their liver), and I would suppose a protein-eating wool moth might be susceptible as well.

http://www.lichen.com/bigpix/Lvulpina.html


-Erica W
 
Erica Wisner
gardener
Posts: 1195
Location: Okanogan Highlands, Washington
207
books cat dog food preservation hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I do think that most of today's plaids come from a Victorian sensibility: classifying clans by patterns distinguished by thread count is a pretty meticulous way to define something, and a lot of the patterns were expressed in very modern colors at that time. I suppose you could consider whether the clan was more traditional or more modern by whether they retained a tartan that's achievable with traditional dyes. Some of the colors seem to have been picked especially for brightness, or battlefield visibility, with very bold contrast.

I like the point about plaids being an economical way to mask color variations. Other woven patterns do this too.
I think twills/tweed would have the same effect.

In some Andean weaving patterns, variation in the colors themselves just becomes part of the pattern: the variation in greens on the bottom belt here, for example:

When you have white and off-white contrasting a black pattern, or something, and you really don't notice the variation in the whites.
Or even here: the variation in the brown becomes a pleasant backdrop to the colorful detail.


I do think the contrast of a pattern helps natural variation look intentional, well-managed. If you have no contrast detail, you will notice any variation in the main color more, and it becomes more important to balance or blend or deliberately grade the various dye lots so that the variation itself is relatively even.
A repeating pattern - even just saving half-a-hank of material so the rim and pom-pom on a hat have some matching color - creates a sense of attention to detail.

I've come to appreciate regularity and neatness not as goals in themselves, but as signs of a sort of soothing, dedicated attention which is desirable.
The Zen garden is not beautiful only for the finished effect of the ripples in the gravel, but also the sense it gives of the peaceful focused state of mind that some gardener must have entered to put them there.
Would it be the same if the gravel were glued in place?

Natural dyes:



-Erica
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Erica Wisner wrote:Another fun aspect of Scottish woolens is that some of the lichen-based dyes are credited with having moth-repellent properties. (I can't find the reference now, but I believe it was something about lichen-dyed tweeds, which suggests crottal lichens like parmelia-saxatilis.)
I suppose it could be other elements added during dying (some of the lichen-based purple dyes were made with all kinds of other additives like saltpeter and arsenic).

I suspect our Letharia Vulpina might have similar properties; it's supposed to be very toxic to meat-eating animals (afflicts their liver), and I would suppose a protein-eating wool moth might be susceptible as well.

http://www.lichen.com/bigpix/Lvulpina.html


-Erica W

really interesting Erica to learn about lichen moth repellant properties- I have heard that paper scrolls 1000's of years old have been found in caves in China- uneaten by insects, because the paper was dipped in a berberine solution as an insect repellent. a yellow dye! roots of berberis, or the bark/roots of oregon grape- that strong yellow colour- is berberine- great to know not only is it a dye, but also an insect repellant!
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alistair MacKinnon wrote:Your instincts are correct.. there are quite a few websites on the history of tartan and the dyes of place. Its not called plaid over here, that is actually the garment that is wrapped around, it is tartan; but the meaning of that word is not yet sure. Irish French Spanish sources have been put forward.

"Tartan only started to be used as a means of Scottish clan identification during the 19th century, but historians believe that in ancient times people could tell what area of Scotland someone was from by the shade of the dyes that were used in their clothing.

Natural dyes were produced from lichen, bark, or berries of plants and trees. Because the weavers were restricted to the colours they could produce from the local vegetation, tartans produced in the area were frequently made in the same colours and frequently even in the same pattern.

thanks for the research time-in Alistair! it all makes sense doesn't it? I love it when you do something just because it is what makes sense- based on what is available and practical process methods- and from that one can piece together how others might have worked so long ago.... a nice feeling of connection to past makers!
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Julia Winter wrote:My mother's Scottish clan (Menzies, pronounced Ming-us in the Highlands) is very old, with a very simple tartan of just white and black.

Interesting that you say it is a very old tartan- that might be that there was not the availability to take time to dye,- either the pots required, gathering time, semi-nomadic weavers lifestyle... who knows? but the black and white might be again just a clue to the practicality and limitations of the weavers lifestyle- access to black and white sheep, but not to the time required for the extra labour of dying wool... hence a simple tartan!
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
John Saltveit wrote:I have heard that the pattern is originally from a particular area and family. In Guatemala, which also does amazing things with fabrics and colors, the pattern shows which village you come from. It's considered actually disrespectful for someone to come in and stay somewhere for a month as a visitor and "declare" themselves to be from that village. Buying it and wearing it elsewhere is of course respectful.
John S
PDX OR

very interesting! makes me think of what I have been told is the origin of Irish Fisherman's knits- they were originally how fisherman lost at sea would be identified when their remains washed up. Each family had it's own pattern of cabling, and the local women would all know whose was whose... You would never copy another families, but learn from your own family, and maybe personalize. What we think of as just a multitude of intricate patterns now actually held importance for helping families know how to id a family member that was lost at sea... the sweater pattern served as a family label- so you would never copy someone else's!
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Bill Bradbury wrote:Hi Sharon,
I have been intrigued by the dessicated corpses found in the Taklamakan desert. They seem to be the best source for looking back into our past culture. I don't know if you have read any of Victor Mair's excellent books on the discovery of these ancient ancestral tombs. I've attached a video ...
thanks so much for this! totally enjoyed Elizabeth's talk and so many more techniques to learn! awesome to imagine weft twining dates back 25 000 years ago, thanks again for sharing- thought I would listen while I spun- but was so mesmerized I had to leave my wheel and was glued to my monitor.
 
Bill Bradbury
pollinator
Posts: 684
Location: Richmond, Utah
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes Elizabeth Barber is amazing, someone I would love to hang out and talk with!
Coincidentally, last night I received your excellent book, but I only looked at it for a minute before my teen-aged daughter absconded it, disappearing into her room. I can't think of any better compliment!
 
Sharon Kallis
Author
pollinator
Posts: 58
Location: Vancouver British Columbia
30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ha! very funny, a great compliment indeed! thanks for sharing. and enjoy the book when your daughter is done!
 
leila hamaya
pollinator
Posts: 1159
Location: northern northern california
71
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sharon Kallis wrote:
really interesting Erica to learn about lichen moth repellant properties- I have heard that paper scrolls 1000's of years old have been found in caves in China- uneaten by insects, because the paper was dipped in a berberine solution as an insect repellent. a yellow dye! roots of berberis, or the bark/roots of oregon grape- that strong yellow colour- is berberine- great to know not only is it a dye, but also an insect repellant!


fascinating, i didnt know this about oregon grape.

it is a really strong, effective medicine plant as well.
theres so many thousands of oregon grape plants here, they have been calling out to me fora while, to start to harvest them and use them.
maybe i will do some experimenting to see how i can use this...
 
The glass is neither half full or half empty. It is too big. But this tiny ad is just right:
Permaculture Playing Cards by Paul Wheaton and Alexander Ojeda
https://permies.com/wiki/57503/digital-market/digital-market/Permaculture-Playing-Cards-Paul-Wheaton
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!