400 year old colour

“The Bacton Altarcloth” was recently determined to likely be made from a dress that belonged to Queen Elizabeth I, c. 1600.

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It’s on display at Hampton Palace, with The Rainbow Portait of the Virgin Queen.

https _historicroyalpalaces.picturepark.com_Go_ctrueOYG_V_44997_13 Elizabeth_I_Rainbow_Portrait

Inscribed non sine sole iris (no rainbow without the sun) it’s questionable whether the eyes and ears on her saffron yellow cloak actually existed beyond symbolizing her as all-seeing and knowing. The bodice embroidery, however, compares to that of the Bacton cloth.

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The silver woven into the heavy silk base is also visible in the painting, with even more striking similarity to the Bacton cloth. Tudor law was, only the very highest levels of nobility and royalty could wear dress containing gold and silver.

Bacton altar cloth
“Remnants of a dress belonging to Queen Elizabeth I may have been found in a richly embroidered altar cloth in Bacton, Herefordshire. Historians believe the monarch could have gifted the garment to one of her most faithful servants, Blanche Parry.” Claire Collins/Historic Royal Palaces/PA Wire

The altarcloth embroidery is more varied, with insects and small animals scattered among flowers and foliage.

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Apparently some pigments were found to be from far-off places, like cochineal from Mexico and and indigo from India.

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I think the lighter blues could be woad, like the thread above that I dyed. Yellows could come from any number of native flowers, this one is tansy.  The pink is cochineal, and the green is yarrow, also locally abundant.

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Parwati Budha Rawat

Parwati Budha Rawat

Parwati Budha Rawat, 21, with marigold and makhamali garlands that are a big part of the annual Tihar festival in Nepal.


Flower prices and domestic supply are closely watched in advance of the festival.



On certain Tihar days, the garlands are draped on dogs, cows and other icons to honour them. The fifth day is Bhai Tika, when sisters make special garlands for their brothers. That day’s rituals show gratitude for a brother’s protection and prays for his long life.


Last Monday, Parwati Budha Rawat was found dead in a “period hut” 100m from her home in Achham district, Sudurpashchim Pradesh. She had lit a fire in the windowless shack to keep warm, after being there for three days.

Her brother-in-law is the first ever arrested in relation to chhaupadi, which was banned in 2005. If charged, he faces three months in jail and a $35 CAD fine.

period hut

In Canada, December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.


fresh woad

I decided to see if there would be any colour in these woad leaves. They’ve been frozen a few times, which is definitely not according to textbook.

woad vat

No matter how much pigment is in the leaves, the vat, and the material soaked in it, are “indigo white”. The blue doesn’t show until the material is exposed to air.

Remembrance Day

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I took this picture a long time ago, at the Parkdale-Maplewood Museum, deep in rural Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia.

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I now live in Guelph, the home of John McCrae, author of In Flanders Fields. This is an illuminated version of the poem created after McCrae’s death at the end of WWI, in the Guelph University Archives.

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This is part of the memorial at the McCrae House Museum. It was erected in 1946, a year after the end of WWII.

Today, we are having the first winter storm.

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20% of global water pollution

20% of global water pollution is the result of dyeing textiles. https://www.soilassociation.org/thirsty-for-fashion/

Fashion production causes 10% of global carbon emissions. https://www.innovationintextiles.com/circular-fashion-closing-clothings-waste-loop/

It takes 7600 litres of water to make one pair of jeans. https://fashionunited.uk/case/future-of-fashion-production-sustainable-high-tech-and-on-demand

It takes 2700 litres of water to make one T-shirt. https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-impact-of-a-cotton-t-shirt

Organic cotton consumes 91% less water than “conventional” cotton. http://aboutorganiccotton.org/faq/

“Conventional” cotton uses approximately 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides. [The enormous amount of herbicides like glyphosate used are never included in statistics.]  https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/oct/01/cotton-on-the-staggering-potential-of-switching-to-organic-clothes

Drones are spraying chemical defoliant on millions of hectares of cotton fields in China. This is on top of already chemical intensive GMO (“conventional”) cotton programs, with the goal of reducing “expensive” labour costs. https://www.geospatialworld.net/news/xag-drone-fleets-take-off-for-large-scale-cotton-defoliation-operation-in-xinjiang/

XAG Drone spraying cotton defoliate in Xinjiang, 2018.