An embroidered alphabet: letter W and interesting things about flowers, road signs, etc.


Hand embroidered W in William Morris style (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Woke to thick covering of snow and many unhurried mohair like fluffs of the stuff floating by the window. Both milkman and paperboy had made deliveries on time and when I stuck my head out of the window the main road shone wet but not icy. In London the night’s blanket of snow had almost disappeared by the time the small person and his father left for school (good thing it was not a day for early morning choir practice). Our snow has lasted longer but is definitely disappearing (now lunchtime). We are warm and contented and very happy not to have to go out – though we might, but then there’s joy in the fact we can choose whether to or not!

Hand embroidered W in William Morris style (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

A nice little William Morris style W with an oak leaf  – not sure whether I’ve seen it with the oak leaf somewhere or whether I added it myself; wondered about adding a little acorn … but haven’t. Surprised myself by enjoying using green on its own , though it may just be because this particular shade (DMC 166) has a wonderful metallic gloss about it. It was a simple and satisfying letter to embroider, what with the colour of the thread and the bosomy curves.

Acorn leaf detail of hand embroidered W in William Morris style (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Opium Poppy update: Sadly the fields of Ipsden will no longer shimmer with the brief flowering of the opium poppy (see photograph – a scattering of snow in June?). Last week, the farmer we stayed with (who used to grow them) said,

 “Until about 15 years ago virtually all the poppies required by the only factory in the UK capable of converting poppy straw into opiates, in Edinburgh owned by Johnson Matthey,  were grown in Tasmania.  The bright idea was to grow some on suitable soil in the UK. This developed well such that about 15% of the factory’s input was grown in the UK, the balance continuing to come principally from Tasmania.  The variety grown in UK, papava somniferum, produced approx 70 % codeine, 15 % morphine and the rest other opiates such as fentimol and methadone. 3 years ago a grower in Tasmania developed a variety which could be converted into nearly 100% codeine, which is what Johnson Matthey were looking for.  As this grower licensed the variety, all UK contracts were abruptly cancelled.   A small business in the UK continues, but only to produce seed, which is I think mainly exported to the US  ( where poppy growing is forbidden) for the cake and biscuit market.” Now we know.

Sketches of various Ws found online

Snowdrop story update:  Ann Treneman in her Notebook in this morning’s Times newspaper says that when Anna Pavord moved to Devon she noticed a distinctive snowdrop in her garden. She sent a sample to John Sales, a specialist with a passion for snowdrops who told her it was a wild species from the Caucasus and Georgia. When Pavord queried how it had got to Devon, Sales suggested The Crimean War, after which returning soldiers came back with bulbs in their pockets. That a local regiment had fought there adds credence to the story and I now find I want to believe it.

Sketches of various Ws found online

Thundering Tantabus: Ann Treneman has a fondness for unearthing interesting words and phrases which she, an American, albeit one who has lived in the UK for a long time, comes across.  Last week she used the phrase “raining stair rods” which few under the age of, I don’t know 60 or 70, will understand for whom fitted carpets or rugs on wooden floorboards are all they know (little vicious wooden batons with protruding claws being used on stairs instead). This week she quotes a reader who has written to say that the distant rumble of thunder would cause his father to come out with “Tantabus is coming”.  I thought I might adopt this expression but then I realised that I’m not quite sure why I would want to invoke a daemon who turned dreams into nightmares.

Margaret Calvert’s Roadsigns: I mentioned Margaret in this post about typeface and my embroidery of gothic letters for a wedding monogram. This morning’s Times entertained me with a letter from a man who enjoyed devising alternative interpretations for them. He “always enjoys slowing down as he passes retirement homes, reminded by the signage (scroll down to Warning Signs) to look out for elderly pickpockets in action”. Once seen like this, you can’t get it out of your head!

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  1. Posted February 3, 2019 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    That’s a lovely springlike green. My grandparents’ stair carpet was held in place with stair rods, but I agree, they are pretty obscure now!

    • Mary Addison
      Posted February 4, 2019 at 11:43 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Rachel.
      I recently went to a house with stair rods – an Edwardian house – and found my toes banged the rods every step I took. Perhaps stairs got too narrow and feet got too big and another solution was needed. Though my parents used to have little arms either side of each stair that flicked down over the carpet, but then I think the middle of the carpet had a tendency to sag!

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