Category Archives: snowflakes

Winter Awakens Jack Frost

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There were only shadows and silhouettes when the little sprite-like

one awoke from his long, extended nap. The seasons had changed

while he slept and he looked around, not seeing his special ‘touch’

upon the land yet. He stretched his arms out and shrugged his thin

shoulders, shaking out his stiff joints, while wrapping his coat closely

around him.

The elfin man crept out from under the bridge, ready to dip his toes

into the chilly stream. He shivered with excitement and knowing it

was TIME.

As the water changed from moving sluggishly, freezing into a sheet of

ice, he tiptoed up the bank and left his tiny, crystalline footprints behind.

He hopped over the rock that led to the grass and he slowed.

He stopped.

He took one big breath IN! His lungs burned with the extremely brittle air.

He let one foggy (water vapored) breath OUT!

He prepared himself.

He took his hand from under his woolen blanket jacket and raising it

high above his sweet head, he waved it in a circular fashion.

From the end of his fingertips, little droplets flung through the air,

slowly drifting downwards. This gave them the appearance of a flour

sifter delicately releasing sprinkles of powdered sugar.

The icy landing and covering of each blade of grass transformed them

into miniature, stalagmite soldiers standing stiffly in formation. They

were holding their posts and guarding the night.

He grinned, his face all pink with its color returned. He hurried and

scampered up to the top of the highest evergreen now. He was ready

for the Grand Finale of his mighty annual performance.

Jack Frost released his magical powers upon his surroundings. Ever

widening the circle of his reach, he spread glistening, sparkling diamonds

over the branches of the trees.

J. F. gazed and spied the undecorated eaves and cornices of the houses

and cottages. He pointed and  spread a layer of lacy icing over them,

creating a look as if bewitched gingerbread houses. He allowed this

brilliantly white frosting to drip in a beautiful way into icicles.

Dainty, dancing snowflakes began to fall from the dark, majestic

midnight blue sky.

The moon yawned and closed his eyes while the shining stars twinkled

ever so brightly.

In the stillness of that

first frost…

first snow…

first ice…

a crisp, crackling frozen moment lingered and left its impression of

Winter.

Jack Frost pulled his knit cap over his ears and whispered,

“Be of good cheer.”

Postscript: my friend, Brenda, the creator and author of

http://friendlyfairytales.wordpress.com

inspired me with a post with crystalline branches in her

photograph of a tree. This was the “crystal” that led to my

writing this fairy tale! Thanks, Brenda!

Threads

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For those of us who are approaching winter, there are some moments

when we may wish to start a large puzzle, work on a craft or read a

book with deeper meaning. After all, the media ‘invented’ the idea of

Summer Books, which always seem like “Beach Books.” They consist

of fun reads, some adventures or romance but generally not expected

to make it into the Classic books area of the library.

While gathering things, somewhat ‘ahead of time,’ preparing for my

Thanksgiving trip to see my Mom and family up North, I put a box of

old wooden spools of thread into a bag. Or rather ones that used to

have thread on them. I added one of my books from the discards

pile at the May Library Book Sale, in coordination with the Delaware

Arts Festival, thinking that I may get a chance over the four days “on

holiday” to bury my nose in a book. The spools will go to my brother’s

future artistic projects. He utilized another set of these antique

wooden spools in a colorful multi-media project, finishing it with

a shiny paint spattered glaze over it. I love the circular shapes within

the circle of  his shimmering presentation of what I would describe

as the “cosmos.”

 

While talking about thread, I don’t wish to go on too many tangents.

 

Do you remember when we would say, “Nice threads?” Sometimes,

I remember saying this to someone with a tie-dyed shirt or a pretty

patch-worked maxi-skirt. Was it applicable only to certain kinds

of clothes or anyone who we may have thought looked “nice?”

Interesting, since we also use the word “threadbare” clothes, for

those which may be considered ‘raggedy’ or worn out. These are

‘bones of contention’ sometimes, when a spouse may wish to keep

a favorite, softened by time item of clothing. The other spouse

may wish to throw it in the ‘rags’ heap.

 

 

Now that I am getting older, I sometimes have to close one of

my eyes to “thread” a needle. I also recently purchased a package

of needles that remind me of the Large Print Books’ section where

I tend to get some of my ‘reading for pleasure’ books. Rarely do I

find ‘classics’ in this area. I pondered this once, “Do they think

that while I am losing my eyesight, I am becoming ‘dimmer’ in

my brain cells, too?” In this same vein, my “threads” of thoughts

can become quite twisted or knotted up, needing someone to

help unravel them.

 

When a spider creates his web, the intricate woven pattern looks

like snowflakes at times. Sometimes, I think of it as gossamer

“thread” and am amazed at how strong its hold is. Especially,

when in someone’s attic, as it catches in your hair. It is definitely

sticky, which makes sense to catch the bugs or flies for the spider’s

meal.

 

While the use of ‘threading in and out’ is less often used than the

expression of ‘weaving in and out,’ I have heard this used.

 

Can you think of other ways the word, “thread” is used?

 

I especially admire the Native Americans who used almost every

part of an animal, one way or another. Using creatures’ sinew

to sew with a needle created from its bone is surely a testament

of their creative and utilitarian minds. I cannot imagine trying

to poke through the fur or animal hide to create clothes and

jackets. It would have been easier to just throw the fur over their

shoulders like a blanket or poncho. That is how I picture my

way of ‘roughing it.’ The daunting task of creating homes out

of materials from the natural world is incredible to me also.

 

I have 15 different wooden spool brand names with the prices

varying from 15 cents to a quarter. I studied and grouped them,

even noticing the colors or as they are labeled, “shades” can be

over 1000 in their number. The variety intrigued me, as I hope

or felt it may a few of my readers. All of the 15 brands are made

in America. I would be interested if anyone in another country

would tell me where their thread in their sewing basket or junk

drawer was made.

 

When you ‘whet’ someone’s interest in a subject, you don’t

wish to leave them “hanging by a thread,” so here is my list:

1. Clark’s brand.

This is interesting because it was originally on its own, but you will

see a spool with two brands who must have become connected. On

this post, I decided would be presenting what I have, not what I

looked up on the internet. I did not research any of these companies.

Details on the Clark’s wooden spool include, “Cotton” and “O.N.T.”

and the “shade” number of 278 on one of several of these. The “Size

50” is on this brand.

2. “Belding Corticelli” brand.

The words are not together, but circle the spool, some on the

‘top’ and some on the ‘bottom.’

“Bel-waxed”

“Mercerized”

“Cotton”

and the expression, “Fast to Boiling.”

Several of this brand, with the price range given of 15 cents, 19 cents

and 25 cents.

The shades are stamped into the wood, ink pressed to show “1707”

on one, for example. The “Size 50” is also on this brand. All of these

gave the length of “125 yds.” of thread.

3. “Sea Island Thread Mfg. Corp.”

The words, “None Better” are stamped into the wood on one end.

The length on this bigger sized spool is “700 yds.” It is labeled,

“Mercerized Cotton.” (Unlike the other spool where the words

were separated and not contiguous.) This is mentioned to be,

“Made in New York.”

4. “Standard- Coosa-Thatcher Company” is also labeled on

the other end of the spool as “S-C-T”

There is no marking of its shade, color, or length but I am

happy to tell you this was made in “Chattanooga, Tenn.”

5. “Richardson’s .”

“Mercerized Sewing Cotton,”

(Size 50)

100 yards

“Fast to Boiling.”

This singular spool has the word, “Shade 1788,” on it.

6. “Fruit of the Loom.”

40 yds.

(Size 50)

“Mercerized” (no mention of cotton on label.)

“Fast Color”

*Would we today call this ‘color fast?’*

7. “Dandy” brand.

This label is the only one which presents a blend of,

“Cotton and Polyester”

Made in U.S.A. is stamped into the wooden spool’s end.

“Mercerized” is again not connected with the source of

the thread’s ‘material.’

“Boil Fast”

*Doesn’t this fascinate you? How can one expression, “Fast

to Boiling,” be attributed to one kind and then, this shorter

one be given?*

There are two facts about the “Dandy” brand which are not

included on any other of my spools, “Left Twist” and “Two

Cord- 1200 yards.” This is a longer/taller wooden spool.

8. “Ball’s Best” brand.

This was made in South Willington, Connecticut.

“500 yards”

“Cotton”

(24) May be “shade” number?

Gardiner Hall Jr. Company.

“Sole Man’ers”

*(Was this meant to be used on soles of socks or shoes?)*

9. “Coats” brand.

“Super Sheen With Silicone” on a shiny paper circle on top.

125 yds.

“Mercerized”

“Boilfast”

(50)

19 cents.

Shades are “169” “70” and “57-A”

On the bottom of the spool, where there isn’t any shiny label,

stamped into the wood is: “J + P Coats.”

10. “Lily” brand.

“Mercerized.”

50 yds.

Cotton boll symbol on the paper label.

“Boil – Fast”

11. “Radium” brand.

“1 oz.”

“Three Cord”

“Mercerized Cotton”

“Color 1169”

12. “Aunt Lydia’s” brand,

“American Thread Co.”

“Button & Carpet”

“Extra Strong + Smooth”

“Shade 830”

13. “Empeco” brand.

“Mercerized Thread”

“Manufactured by Max Pollack Co. Inc.”

Made in “Mills Groton, CONN”

“700 yards”

Color “518.”

14. “Coats + Clarks”

(At last, we have both companies joined together.)

Time has gone past, since this big spool is labeled

to cost, “39 cents” and has details, such as:

“Dressmaker’s Spool”

“Made in U.S.A”

(50)

Color or shade is “86-B”

15. “Talon” brand.

“Mercerized.”

325 yds.

“29 cents”

“Made in U.S.A.”

“Colorfast” (at last!)*

15. “Star” brand.

“100% Polyester”

40 yds.

“American Thread Co.”

“CONN”

(An area code is given, but is faded. Possibly 06905 or 08905?)

“Will-Boil”

Three different spools have these color numbers:

“484” “553” and “020”

The three have varying length of thread:

“40 yds.” “125 yds.” and “150 yds.”

“Mercerized Cotton”

I enjoy learning about the crafts and hobbies of fellow bloggers.

Do you tend to carry out the same kinds of activities or do you

change them, as the season changes?

This post began with my getting out some things to go visiting;

along with sorting out the spools from my crowded sewing basket.

I accomplished the chore of cleaning up and writing this post about

‘threads’ due to those wooden spools. My little grandchildren used

to play stacking games with them, as if they were uniquely shaped

building blocks. Remembering their tall towers of spools make me

smile. Then, the giggles of when they all came tumbling down.

I imagine children in the past doing this playful use of spools, too.

 

 

 

 

 

No Two Are Alike

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A Vermont “farmer’s kid,” Wilson Bentley, did extensive

research in his lifetime into the unique qualities of

snowflakes. Bentley was born in 1865 and raised in Jericho,

Vermont. He is known as the “Snowflake Man.”

Wilson Bentley became interested in snowflakes and their

individual characteristics while only 14 years old. He was

a self-educated scientist and a pioneer photographer.

Bentley documented the beauty and structure of snowflakes,

along with the weather and climate conditions that would

foretell the arrival of snow. His body of work is shown

through a collection of over 5000 photo micrographs.

Bentley’s book, “Snow Crystals,” was published shortly

before his death. This features outstanding and wondrous

photographs of snowflakes.

As a teenager, he started in the woodshed, in cold conditions

with little money available. He used a microscope to view the

fragile, quickly melting snowflakes. He would try to copy,

closely, their intricate patterns and geometric structures.

He had to rush to do this, of course, before they melted.

There was an abundance of snow up in the Green Mountains of

Vermont. This had initiated his curiosity in snow and their

potential to be drawn and magnified.

In the mid-1880’s, Bentley started to use a microscope attached

to a large bellows camera, to capture the images of snowflakes.

Through his arduous and consuming passion in this subject, and

multiple trials and errors, he could eventually illuminate

the crystals and darken the background. This enabled the final

product to create the translucent quality of snowflakes. The

distinct and individual patterns were more easily seen, once

he had finished the different ways to produce the light against

the dark contrast. Bentley had limited technology at hand to

create the conducive, environmental conditions for photographing.

He was such a dedicated pioneer in his field! He had no formal

training; “just” interest and patience to do this experimentation.

His shed became a darkroom and the stream nearby, the water to

wash his prints off. He was able to produce clear negatives and

prints in wintry, freezing conditions. Imagine those obstacles

that he overcame.

In his 33rd year, Bentley had his first real recognition, by his

article being published in “Appleton’s Popular Scientific Monthly.”

This magazine article brought him opportunities to lecture and

to be asked about his research. To offset his materials’ costs,

he had to find educational and research institutes to purchase

his photographs of snowflakes. His speaking tours allowed him

to present his findings before learned audiences.

In 1931, Wilson Bentley died at age 66, sadly from pneumonia,

that he contracted from trudging home through a snowstorm.

Wayne Howe, an archivist for the Jericho Historical Society

gave this lovely tribute in a quotation about Bentley:

“Wilson Bentley regarded snowflakes as manifestations of the

power and majesty of nature.”

Bentley, himself, said this inspiring quote that I copied in

calligraphy and attached to my refrigerator with a few little

pen and ink drawings of snowflakes, surrounding the words:

“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of

beauty; and it seemed a shame that beauty should not be seen

and appreciated by others.”

Wow!

Wilson Bentley’s perseverance and his talent of photographing

snowflakes to share with us was a priceless gift to us all!