All posts filed under: Miscellenia

A gentleman’s handkerchief (or, the most pitiful HSF item I will make all year)

I have finally finishes an item for the HSF Gentlemen challenge (well, actually I finished it on Wed the 3rd), but I have very ambivalent feelings about counting it. This is my hand sewn, 16th century blackwork embroidered linen handkerchief: Only it isn’t. Why not?  And why am I so hesitant to include it? Because it is completely and utterly historically inaccurate. Yes, it’s linen.  And it’s handsewn. And the embroidery uses period stitches, and a motif taken from a period source.  And the lace isn’t too bad as a modern approximation of a late Renaissance lace. The handkerchief is, in fact, the perfect example of how you can use period materials, and period techniques, and period inspiration, but end up with something that is just a terrible, un-historical pastiche. The problem is that I depended on memory rather than checking my sources.  I knew that there were numerous 16th century portraits that show women holding handkerchiefs, some plain, some with blackwork, some with lace (this seems to be most common in Spanish portraits).  I …

The Vegetarian Turkey: Killed it

Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays, and one of the few American things that I would really miss in New Zealand.  To help me to feel at home, my lovely in-laws have thrown a Thanksgiving dinner every year since Mr D & I got married.  This year, since we finally have our own house (with a dining room even!) we got to host it ourselves.  Exciting!  The in-laws came up from Nelson, and MIL cooked with me, so we’re continuing the tradition of doing it together. A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I was talking about the holiday with a friend from Scotland.  She asked if I make a vegetable turkey since I’m vegetarian (well, not actually vegetarian, just complicated). “A vegetable turkey?  Like a tofurkey?” “No.  Like this:” She was joking. But I instantly thought “OMG!  I want one!” So I had lots of fun at the Sunday market buying vegetables, and just as much fun giggling and arranging them with MIL on Thanksgiving day, and despite the enormous potential for this idea to turn …

Blackbirding and Bislama: language and culture in Vanuatu

Vanuatu is a nation in the South Pacific made up of eight main islands, and 79 further small islands . The islands are a united nation not out of any shared (original) language or culture, but out of shared colonial history: the great European powers in the Pacific, in their infinite wisdom, decided these islands would make a governable grouping based on a map, not on any links between the people. The national language of Vanuatu, and the one language that you can guarantee an Ni Vanau will speak, is bislama. As well as bislama, each Ni Vanau will speak one or more of the 100+ native Melanesian languages (making Vanuatu the most language dense country in the world), and possibly English, or French, or both. I was first exposed to bislama a year and a half ago, staying in a backpackers in the Hawke’s Bay. A group of young Ni Vanautu men in New Zealand as seasonal workers, picking peaches and nectarines, were also at the backpackers. They were shy and giggly, talking to …