Cockades & Roundels

The National Cockade of India = The National Cockade of Ireland. They are identical! Sharing a national cockade is a common occurrence. Source: Tibetan Pop Rocks, Wikimedia.

A cockade is a knot of ribbons, or other circular, sometimes oval, symbol of distinctive colours which is usually worn on a hat, cap or lapel. In addition, women traditionally had the option of wearing one in their hair. The noun, cockade, dates from 1650 – 60; It comes from French cocarde = a knot of ribbons, (from its resemblance to a cock’s crest), from Middle French cocquard = boastful, silly, cocky = the boastful behavior of a rooster, from coq = a rooster, and especially to the bird’s crête (Fr.) = comb (Eng.) = fleshy growth/ crest on the top of its head. In modern français québécois, the term cocarde is an identification badge.

Starting in the 15th century, these were originally derived from identity ribbons used by medieval knights. By the 18th and 19th centuries, these became common, and showed: the allegiance of their wearers to a political faction, their social status or rank or (by wearing colours of a particular livery) their subordinate status. Because of the confusing multiplicity of military uniforms, cockades became a de facto and cheap mechanism to show a person’s (national) identity. Colours are listed from the centre to the outside ring.


In pre-revolutionary France, the Bourbons used white cockades. Their Jabobite supporters in Scotland, also used white. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the Hanoverians had taken over the monarchy, starting with George I, in 1714. They used black cockades. Periodically, after the French revolution, and since 1830, French cockades have been blue – white – red. The Hanoverian dynasty ended in the UK at the death of Victoria in 1901. Her eldest son Edward VII, was a member of the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, which later changed its name to Windsor. At some time after the adoption of the Union Jack/ Union Flag in 1801, British cockades became red – white – blue, the opposite of the French. Since its independence in 1922, Ireland has used cockades of green – white – orange. India has used the same colours, in the same order, although India refers to its green as India green and its orange as saffron.

Until the Russian revolution in 1917, Russia has used cockades of black – orange – black – orange – white, featured in the Order of Saint George, originally from 1769, but with the Russian Federation revival dating from 2000. Modern Russian cockade colours are black – orange – black – orange. Ukraine uses light blue – yellow.

American Cockades

During the American revolutionary war (1775 – 1783), the Continental Army was the army of the thirteen American colonies. They had no uniforms. George Washington (1732 – 1799) attempted to use cockades to differentiate ranks: red/ pink = field officer; yellow/ buff = captain; green = subaltern. Several sources note that there was a substantial use of black cockades, identical to those used by the British. When France allied itself with the Americans, the Bourbon white cockades were added to create a black and white cockade. The French reciprocated, adding black cockades. This is generally referred to as the union cockade.

Yet, the term union can be confusing in an American context. During the American civil war (1861 – 1865) there were both confederate and union cockades. There was no single standardized design. Confederate/ southern versions tended to be one color (often red or blue). Union/ northern cockades often incorporated red, white and blue. Some designs were embellished with buttons depicting palmettos = fan-leaved palm trees, eagles, Union president Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865), Confederacy president Jefferson Davis (1808 – 1889). In Texas, they often incorporated a metal star.

Nordic Cockades

In Sweden, the military used yellow cockades, while civilians used blue and yellow. This contrasts with Denmark, that used red – white – red. Norway used red – white – blue – white; Iceland: blue – white – red – white – blue; Finland: white – blue – white.


France began the first Aéronautique Militaire = Air Force, in 1909. Roundels were mandated on military planes, starting in 1912. They were based on the blue – white – red of the French national cockade. In addition, aircraft rudders were painted the same colours in vertical stripes, with the blue forwardmost. During World War I, other countries adopted national cockades and used these as roundels on their military aircraft.

Some of the more interesting roundels include Australia, Canada and New Zealand, with the centre red of the Royal Air Force replaced with a kangaroo (Family Macropodidae), sugar maple leaf (Acer saccharum) and kiwi (Apteryx sp.), respectively. In the Nordic countries, Sweden has three yellow crowns displayed on light blue background, with an outer ring of yellow.

Swedish Air Force Roundel

Corporate Roundels

Corporations/ organizations that have made use of roundels in their branding, include: Transport for London, and the London Underground specifically. It was trademarked for the London General Omnibus Company, in 1905, but was first used on the Underground in 1908.

London Underground Roundel.

Use of the BMW roundel required both the circumvention of laws, as well as the creation of myths, to become successful. The Wikipedia article section on BMW’s logo and its slogan – The Ultimate Driving Machine – tells the story.

The Tide trademark is an orange and yellow roundel, sometimes referred to as a bull’s eye. It was designed by architect and industrial designer Donald Deskey (1894 – 1989).

The Tide Roundel, dating from 1946.

The London rock band, The Who, formed in 1964, used Royal Air Force (RAF) roundels on stage. Later, this roundel symbolized British Mod culture, with its emphasis on fashion and Italian scooters.


This weblog post was inspired by the Sabaton music video, The Uprising, about the Warsaw Uprising = powstanie warszawskie (Polish) in the summer of 1944. It was the single largest military effort undertaken by any European resistance movement during World War II. It unsuccessfully attempted to liberate Warsaw from German occupation. It involved 63 days of fighting in the summer of 1944, and it was led by the Polish resistance Home Army = Armia Krajowa (Polish). This operation extracted a massive human cost. It is estimated that about 16 000 members of the Polish resistance were killed and about 6 000 badly wounded. In addition, between 150 000 and 200 000 Polish civilians died, mostly from mass executions. This is mentioned in part because the Allies refused to offer military assistance to Poland at this decisive moment in history. In contrast, Poland is offering massive support to Ukraine in the current war, and illegal occupation of Ukraine territory by Russia.

In the Sabaton video there are glimpses of the Polish two-finger salute, as well as of improvised red and white replacement of the cockade, shown on Polish helmets and other military headgear. These are similar to the blue and/ or yellow marking used on Ukrainian military headgear in 2022.

The rogatywka, sometimes translated as peaked cap, is an asymmetrical, peaked, four-pointed cap used by various Polish military formations. Some people see it as forming the basis for the Polish roundel, which is anything but round. Warszawo Walcz = Warsaw fight!

Polish Air Force Roundel.


Sabaton = part of a knight’s body armor that covers the foot. The Swedish power metal band Sabaton is noted for their albums about wars and battles. It originated in 1999 in Falun, about 600 km, and 8 hours driving from Cliff Cottage (depending on the specific route). It involves an eastward journey on the E14, across the Norwegian – Swedish border, and then onwards, almost to Östersund, followed by a southern leg on highway 45 to Falun. Falun’s Great Copper Mountain area has been designated a World Heritage Site since 2002.

If anyone should wonder why I take an interest in Warsaw, and Poland more generally, it is because it keeps asserting itself into my life. Historically there is: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543), Frédéric Chopin (1810 – 1849), Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (1857 – 1924), Marie Salomea Skłodowska–Curie (1867 – 1934), Grażyna Bacewicz (1909 – 1969), Henryk Górecki (1933 – 2010), Wayne Gretski (1961 – ), Olga Tokarczuk (1962 – ), Kinga Baranowska (1975 – ) and Agata Zubel (1978 – ). Alasdair spent six months living in Warsaw. One of our closest neighbours is from Poland. One of our friends specializes in relationships with Polish women. My only sister-in-law has Polish origins.

I have previously written about redneck(erchiefs), that have a similar function to cockades.

World Goth Day #14

On the left, Philip Burne-Jones’s (1861 – 1926) painting, The Vampire (1897), that inspired Rudyard Kipling’s (1865 – 1936) poem, The Vampire (1897), on the right. The painting and the poem were exhibited side by side at tenth summer exhibition at the New Gallery, London in 1897-04. Rudyard Kipling and Philip Burne-Jones were cousins. The poem was also published in the Daily Mail on 1897-04-17, and in the New York Tribune 1897-05-09. Bram Stoker’s (1847 – 1912) Dracula, with numerous vampires, including Dracula himself, was published on 1897-05-26. The original painting was in monochrome. Despite the text (shown above), the painter is Philip, not Kipling’s Uncle Ned, Philip’s father Edward Burne-Jones (1833 – 1898). All works are now in the public domain.

This is the third consecutive year that a weblog post has been published for World Goth Day, potentially celebrated by tens of people, throughout the world! This year it arrives one day early 2022-05-21, with a focus on fashion. The two other weblog posts were: World Goth Day #12 which looked at some of the origins of the day, and #13 with a focus on music. Future efforts: #15 is planned to look at Gothic architecture from the mid-12th century to the 16th century; #16 will look at the historic origins of the Goths in Scandinavia and their dispersal southwords; #17 will examine will look at their relationship with Rome.

Goths as outsiders

More than seventy years of living, and years as a teacher, has taught me that people do not choose to become outsiders. Rather, social forces – outside of their control – largely determine it. They become victims, and the victim is left to deal with the consequences of their victimhood. One way of coping with their situation, is for these victims to visibly display their outsider status. This display takes many forms, but one prominent way is in terms of clothing.

A fashion statement cannot be made alone, it takes place inside a context. That context may be temporal, geographical or cultural, but often involves all three elements.

A. Insider

Haute Couture

Charles Fredrick Worth (1825 – 1895), from Bourne, Lincolnshire, England and his partner Otto Gustaf Bobergh (1821 – 1882), from Bernshammars bruk, Västmanlands county, Sweden, established Worth & Bobergh, in Paris, in 1858. This company is regarded as the first haute couture establishment, with Worth the first fashion designer, and Bobergh the business manager. Some of its innovations included transforming the salon into a meeting point when clients came for consultations and fittings; advanced client selection of colors, fabrics, and other details; replacement of fashion dolls with live models; sewing branded labels into clothes. By the end of Worth’s career, Worth & Bobergh employed 1 200 people and its impact on fashion taste was far-reaching.

Haute couture has a legally protected status, defined by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris, an organization started in 1868. Rigorous rules were implemented in 1945, which required: made-to-order design for private clients, including at least one fitting; a workshop (atelier) located in Paris, employing at least fifteen full-time staff members; at least twenty full-time technical people, in at least one workshop (atelier); and the presentation of a collection of at least 50 original designs to the public in January and July of each year, with both day and evening garments.

For those wanting to read more, Wikipedia provides an extensive number of links to both existing and former haute couture fashion houses: Balenciaga, Callot Soeurs, Pierre Cardin, Chanel, André Courrèges, Christian Dior, Mariano Fortuny, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Christian Lacroix, Jeanne Lanvin, Ted Lapidus, Mainbocher, Hanae Mori, Thierry Mugler, Patou, Paul Poiret, Yves Saint Laurent, Maison Schiaparelli, Emanuel Ungaro and Madeleine Vionnet.

Traditional Crafts

Being an insider is not synonymous with being urban and rich. Sometimes, it can be associated with traditional values in a rural environment. In Norway, the first handicraft schools were established in 1870, becoming mechanisms for promoting Norwegian cultural values.

The Norwegian crafts association = Norges Husflidslag, was founded in 1910. Its purpose was, and still is, to strengthen Norwegian crafts. In 2017, the organization had 24,000 members, 360 local groups, 36 shops that are wholly or partly owned by county/ local groups. It is a member of the Norwegian Cultural Conservation Association. In 2014, the organization was accredited by UNESCO as the third Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with expertise in intangible cultural heritage. As a member of the Study Association for Culture and Tradition, it joins other organizations that work with popular cultural expressions, including folk dance, theater, cultural heritage (including the preservation of the maritime environment) and local history.

After the end of World War II, crafts (and schools to teach them) came into focus as a means of increasing women’s contribution to farm income. The Ministry of Agriculture appointed a committee in 1946 to look more closely at craft training. This resulted in a proposal, to establish (mostly) publicly run handicraft schools in all counties. Courses were adapted to the needs and interests of young women, especially, and the schools offered both half-year and full-year programs of study. In 1955, the handicraft schools were transferred from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Church and Education. In 1966, the Oslo Industrial School for Women = Den Kvindelige Industriskole i Kristiania, established in 1875, became a vocational teacher’s college, and changed its name to the State Teaching College for Crafts = Statens lærerskole i forming . Two other colleges for crafts were also established. These were essential for recruiting teachers for the handicraft schools.

By 1976, the teaching of handicrafts and aesthetics was now incorporated into the upper secondary school system. An introductory course with a focus on drawing, and aesthetics more generally, formed the basis for advanced courses in weaving, sewing and wood and metalworking. A third year course trained people to become activity therapists. While students used to be older, the schools gradually adapted to teaching younger people, most between 16 and 19 years of age.

Starting on 1980-08-20, Patricia, my wife, studied one year of weaving followed by one year of sewing, at such a school in Molde, while I took a half year introductory course, starting in 1981-01 followed by a year of wood and metal working. At the same time, we learned Norwegian. The school had 120 students, some in their late teens, many in their early twenties, but with some older people. I was one of two male students at the school. Attending this school gave me insights into traditional Norwegian cultural values, but also labeled me as an outsider.

This was not my first excursion into textiles, in 1978 Patricia and I both took a spinning course at the Deer Lake Art Centre, in Burnaby, adjacent to New Westminster, British Columbia. Later, I purchased one of the first electric spinning wheels made by Kevin Hansen on a visit to Port Townsend, Washington. Apart from a few minutes of experimentation, it remains unused.

This tuque, along with some mittens no longer in existence, were knit by me while taking the introductory course at the Husflidsskole in Molde, Norway, in 1981. Yes, I had to learn to knit in order to make it. Later in my teaching career, I would knit more complex garments during breaks both at a conventional secondary school, as well as a prison school. Most male teachers were expected to have at least some proficiency in knitting, if only because pregnant teachers often received a baby blanket consisting of squares knit by their colleagues.


To gain insights into modest fashions, I started to read Hafsa Lodi (ca. 1988 – ), Modesty: A Fashion Paradox (2020), further described as a work that uncovers the causes, controversies and key players behind the global trend to conceal rather than reveal. Despite my attempt to suspend disbelief, as Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834) advised, and to read the work as the author intended, I found it difficult to understand the author’s perspective.

Her primary consideration is that garments conceal, although the extent of concealment varies. The minimal amount varies “by culture, class, ethnicity and generation” (p. 17) but usually means that the garment(s) cover the knees and shoulders. Some want to extend these to covering ankles, elbows to wrists. So far, so good.

However, the fashion she was advocating was not modest in my interpretation of the word, which would include characteristics such as sustainable, durable, comfortable and moderately priced. Instead, the garments she promotes are prized for their designer label and extravagance. She even uses the term luxury modest wear. They may have concealed some skin, but revealed a pretentious origin in haute couture.

Within her world, these garments may be modest. Dubai, and other countries in the Middle East, have the least economic equality of anywhere in the world. Thus, there are some people who can enjoy a luxurious life, because they subject others to a life of servitude and drudgery. It is also the area of the world where patriarchy excels.

Admittedly, having matured in the 1960s, my sense of modesty is tempered by that eras fashion trends. There are modest, and not so modest, mini-garments. In the debate about the inventor of the miniskirt, I am inclined to accept the judgement of Marit Allen (1941 – 2007), half-Norwegian fashion journalist and costume designer, who credits John Bates = Jean Varon (1938 – ) with its conception, and execution in 1965 in outfits for Diana Rigg (1938 – 2020) for her role as Emma Peel in The Avengers. His work included not just skirts and dresses, but Op-Art mini-coats. I have discussed Rigg and Bates in a previous weblog post. I find most of these garments modest! Both André Courrèges (1923 – 2016) and Mary Quant (1930 – ) have been designated the inventor of the miniskirt, by others. I will acknowledge Courrèges role in promoting/ introducing jeans for women.

While there is an attempt to create a gender divide, especially with respect to the use of trousers, there has been fluidity in the use of garments throughout the millennia. An introduction to insights into this topic, can be found in one Wikipedia article on Trousers as Women’s Clothing. Divided skirts were used in the late-nineteenth century for horse- and bicycle-riding. These were rebranded as culottes in the mid-20th century. These have increasingly replaced skirts in many situations. One of the first being that skirts worn by female medical personnel were incompatible with the wake produced by helicopters.

B. Outsider

In Fear and Clothing: Unbuckling American Style (2015), Cintra Wilson (1967 – ) advises: Your closet is a laboratory in which you may invent astonishingly powerful voodoo. It may be used as a tool to direct yourself toward your own ideal destiny. It’s geomancy—portable feng-shui, right on your body. Style is one of the most remarkably fast, proactive, and gratifying ways to change your mind, change your mood and—as a surprising result—change your circumstances. It is one of the most direct ways of exploiting the Socratic adage “Be as you wish to seem,” or, more slangily, “Fake it till you Make it.”

Most outsiders lack the resources to purchase bespoke/ haute couture clothing, or to make their own traditional clothing. Many are a product of a cycle of poverty, forcing them into unskilled jobs at an early age. Many have also suffered various types of abuse, making participation at school or in the labour market difficult.


In 1913, Yva Richard, transformed himself from Paris photographer, to the proprietor of a lingerie boutique, run either by himself or, more likely, his wife Nativa Richard. Their unique creations became increasingly daring/ avant-garde/ erotic, and by the late 1920s, they had develop a successful international mail-order business, based on a catalogue of photographs taken by Yva, frequently modelled by Nativa. It lasted until 1939. Léon Vidal, a tailor and owner a chain of erotic bookshops, was encouraged by the success of Yva Richards, to open a competing boutique, Diana Slip. It, too, lasted until the start of World War 2. Numerous not safe for work (NSFW) and some more socially acceptable photographs of their creations can be found using a search engine.


If there is one element that unites the young goths that I have met at secondary schools and in prison, it is their fascination with vampires. The vamp(ire) has become a symbol of an extreme outsider. The first poems with a vampire in English, was Robert Southey’s (1774 – 1443), Thalaba the Destroyer (1801). This was followed by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834), Christabel (written 1797 – 1801, published 1816). There are shorter references to this theme in George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824) in The Giaour (1813). The first modern vampire prose work in English was John William Polidori’s (1795 – 1821), The Vampyre (1819). At this point, the representation of vampires in literature explodes.

The height of vampiremania is reached in 1897. Philip Burne-Jones’s (1861 – 1926) paints, The Vampire (1897). This inspires Rudyard Kipling’s (1865 – 1936) to write his poem, The Vampire (1897). Then Bram Stoker’s (1847 – 1912) Dracula (1897) appears, and the world has never been the same again.

Fast forward to the present and vampires are still with us. On Goodreads, I encountered a list with 1 669 (at the time of writing) best vampire books! At the top of the list is Stephen King’s (1947 – ) second published novel, Salem’s Lot (1975). This work is expected to reappear soon as a film with the same name, directed by Gary Dauberman (ca. 1977 – ). Of course, there are numerous other films and television series that have vampires as an essential plot element.


As a sign of their outsider status, people often opt to dress provocatively. Karl Spracklen and Beverley Spracklen, The Evolution of Goth Culture: The Origins and Deeds of the New Goths (2018) describe this provocation, and fundamental characteristic of Goth fashions in one word – black (Chapter 11: Goth as Fashion Choice). Many of the Goths I met teaching were consumers of Gothic Beauty, from 2000, and/ or Dark Beauty Fashion Magazine, which appeared from about 2010 to 2020. These offered a slightly broader colour pallet.

According to Cintra Wilson in an article You just can’t kill it (2008), this blackness has its origins in the Victorian cult of mourning. Thus Steampunk and related fashions with origins from this time period are embodied into the dress code.

Beyond this darkness there was a fascination with hair, typically dyed. The mohawk represents one of the most admired, if less frequently used, hair styles. It involves a narrow, central strip of upright hair running from the forehead to the nape, with the sides of the head bald. Variations include: the nohawk, a shaved strip from the forehead to the nape of the neck, with hair on either side of that strip; the Eurohawk, where the sides are not shaved, but with shorter hair than on the central strip; and, the fauxhawk, a hairpiece in the form of a mohawk.


Yet, as a sign of their outsider status, some people often opt to dress protectively. Perhaps, the best display of this is characterized by Doc Martens boots, made at Wollaston in Northamptonshire, England. These boots originated with Klaus Märtens, a doctor in the German army who had injured his ankle towards the end of World War II. Standard-issue army boots were too uncomfortable, so he designed improved boots, using soft leather and air-padded soles made from tires. In partnership with Herbert Funckt in 1947, footwear based on these improvements were made at a German factory, and sold primarily (80%) to older (40+) women. In 1959, British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in Britain. Here they the name to Dr. Martens, slightly re-shaped the heel, added yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair. It took until the late 1970s for the brand to become synonymous with youth subcultures, including Goths.


In a house filled with books, my estimate is that about 100 of them are related to textiles, in some form or other. Topics include: spinning, weaving, fashion design, pattern making, sewing, knitting and other forms of manipulating yarn. Then there are binders and boxes filled with patterns. Some of these works are older than the residents in the house. One was purchased a week before this comment was written.

I have tried to go through these to find one suitable book that will provide sufficient insight for beginners to learn to sew clothing. This book is by Alison Smith, The Sewing Book: Over 300 Step-By-Step Techniques (2018). It costs about US$ 21 in hardback. This can be followed by her Sew Your Own Wardrobe (2021). It costs about US$30 in hardback. Once basic skills are developed, additional insights can be developed, for example, using Claire Shaeffer, Couture Sewing Techniques (revised edition, 2011). It is about 250 pages in length, shows the history of couture fashion, and is available in both paperback and digital versions for about US$ 17. All prices are at the time of writing.

An electric sewing machine is a necessity for any normal person wanting to make garments. There is no need to purchase the most expensive models. They offer a lot of features that will probably go unused. The most important characteristic is that it has capabilities for making button holes. Our household has a Janome Decor Computer 3050, which costs about US$ 700.

Goth Day

This weblog post was published on 2021-05-21, one day prior to World Goth Day #14.

Clothing Colour Preferances

This story involves Richard. He tells many stories about colour and clothes, related to himself and near relatives. His grandmother did not appreciate anyone wearing green. Her reason was simple, understandable and emotional. All of her bridesmaids wore green at her wedding, and all died within a year of it. They were all victims of tuberculosis, as was Richard’s aunt, who died in childhood. His grandmother, Jane, escaped the north of England and moved to Canada in 1911, because of this disease. His grandfather had arrived a year earlier. Richard’s mother, Janet, was born in Canada in 1916.

Janet enforced Jane’s unwritten rule. Green was not worn. Richard can’t remember anyone in his family wearing green much before his grandmother’s death in 1972. The one exception was that Richard had acquired a green sweater, knit by his first flame, Joy, in 1966.

In addition, Richard remembers that he was prohibited from wearing black. Black would have been acceptable at funerals, but as a child he was not allowed to attend funerals. All of his shoes were brown, yet his dress trousers were grey. They did not seem to match, but no one else seemed to notice. This mismatch has bothered him for sixty-five years. There was also an over-abundance of powder blue in his childhood wardrobe: mostly shirts, but also sweaters and socks, and one pair of Hush Puppy shoes. He felt strangely content wearing blue shoes. He regarded their purchase as a measured act of rebellion, one that unified a wardrobe consisting of blue and grey. When he outgrew his original Hush Puppies, he was irritated that he could no longer buy blue shoes.

As he grew older, beige and brown were added to his wardrobe. With these he felt that his brown shoes were no longer so out of place.

After he completed secondary school, one of his first acts of clothing defiance was to buy a black outfit: shirt, jeans, socks and shoes. He thinks the under garments were still white. Unfortunately, the quality of these black clothes was not especially good. The shoes soon wore out, and white started to show through the jeans. This taught him that jeans were not the ideal material to project a colour preference. His next clothing adventure was to purchase what he referred to as a jazz shirt. It was black, probably synthetic, but with colourful, large geometrical patterns.

At his wedding to Trixi, he wore a light blue suit, her favourite colour. She wore an off-white gown, with purple trim, suitable for a person entering a second marriage. Afterwards, he acquired an increasing number of clothes, that Trixi made for him. In particular, he remembers the khaki leisure suits that she sewed for their adventure to Europe. Later, she helped him dye white jeans to transform them into pastel coloured jeans: mainly green, blue and yellow. Gradually, the variety and intensity of colours has increased. Through the years, Trixi has knit him innumerable sweaters, socks, tuques and other garments.

Richard’s favourite suit was tailored by Kevin & Howlin, Dublin. It was made almost thirty years ago of Donegal tweed, green with distinctive lines of red. Today, it is not worn often, so it should last another thirty years!

Richard became a late convert to a range of reddish colours, in clothing. If asked for a rational explanation, he would probably resort to mentioning something about crimson representing tests and sacrifice. He would also suggest that red is the colour of blood, a product necessary for animal life.

In his early seventies, Richard discovered All Birds, shoes that were available in a wide variety of colours. This was through the help of his daughter, Sharon, who had suggested this brand, and a few other colourful brands. He bought pink All Birds, but referred to them as salmon coloured to carnivores, or peach to vegetarians/ vegans, to make the colour more socially acceptable. He is awaiting another pair to arrive, in a deeper red.

As he aged, Richard also extended his colour preference more towards purple. He thinks of the purple trim on his bride’s wedding gown, and suspects that this too has had an influence on colour choice. Now, his favourite reds include: carmine, a saturated red, with wavelengths longer than 600 nm, close to the extreme spectral red; crimson, another deep red colour that combines some blue/ violet, so that it approaches purple; madder, named for a dye produced from plants of the genus Rubia; He would not object to any one referring to some of these colours as maroon, but tries to avoid its French chestnut origins, that emphasize the muddiness of brown.

Richard takes an interest in sports. Yet, he is not interested in playing any games, or even in being a spectator. Rather, he is interested in the symbolism, used by teams: names, logos, flags, uniforms, souvenirs and effects. In terms of soccer/ football, Richard was an enthusiastic supporter of Canada’s women’s soccer team at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, held in 2021. Canada’s final game was held just hours before this post was published. In a conversation with his nephew, Brian, Richard commented on the deep red, with white, uniform of the Canadian team, that personify his current personal taste in clothing. He told Brian, “I never watch sports, because I get too emotional when the wrong team scores.” Brian replied, “I understand. It’s stressful. It’s more enjoyable sometimes when you don’t care as much.” After the game ended, giving Canada a gold medal, Brian commented, “This is one of the most entertaining/stressful games I’ve ever seen. Stephanie Labbé is a certified legend.”

Reflecting on football/ soccer in Cascadia, Richard is uncertain if he could ever be a Vancouver Southsider, a supporter of the Whitecaps, who are encouraged to wear white and/or a darkish blue to differentiate them from Seattle Sounders FC Alliance supporters, who could be encouraging people to wear lighter blues and/or lighter greens. The distinction between light and dark is important because arch rival, Portland Timbers Army use a darker green, with yellow as a contrasting colour. Rose City Riveters, and other supporters of the Portland Thorns, women’s soccer team, may want to wear red. Richard, in fact, is such a supporter. He chose the Thorns as his team based on his colour preferences. , rather than starting with a team, and then wearing their colours.

Today, Richard wears a variety of colours, including blue and even beige, but seldom grey. Yet, every time he puts on something green, he thinks of his grandmother, her loss and the ravaging of tuberculosis. He is very happy that the world has vaccines to prevent disease. With good friends who have suffered their entire lives from the effects of polio, Richard is a pro-vaxer, seeing vaccinations as a cheap and effective means of preventing misery in the world, especially now in these Covid-19 times. He is impressed at the speed with which vaccines have been developed to reduce deaths during the current pandemic.

Colour in Context

Does biology have much to say about colour preferences? While there are two genders that often show some distinctive/ differentiated colour preferences, this may be attributed more to socialization than to biology. At a more general level, people who wear a particular colour influence other people. If one identifies in some physical way (age, gender, eye/ skin/ hair colour, body size) with someone else, and that person wears particular colours, these will in some limited way become acceptable. If one differentiates oneself from that person, these colours will in some limited way become less acceptable. Fertility may play a role in encouraging some people to select colours that signal this, or give them higher visibility, although not necessarily in the form of high-vis vests.

There are also temporal issues. People are impacted by seasons and the time of day. Sometimes, even the day of the week may influence colour choice. These may be related to thermal considerations. It may be prudent to wear black, and darker colours, in a cold, snowy landscape, or white, and lighter colours, during periods of extreme heat.

Social markers are commonly used to identify a person as belonging to a particular group, for lack of a better word. Social class, education, occupation, sports and cultural interests and dozens of other affiliations may influence colour choices at particular times. Thus, the high-vis vest, previously mentioned, may be important in an occupational context. Pink is often cited as an inappropriate colour in a business context. Janet, Richard’s mother, had bought him a blue school sweater with white stripes, possibly because she liked that colour combination the best. What she seemed to have missed was that the school Richard attended had black and orange as its school colours.

In 2018, Quartz had an article about black as a fashion’s favourite shade. This title is both technically and politically correct, in that black is not a colour, but its absence. However, black has been a significant factor in the design and production of clothes.

Closing Comments on Colour and Clothing

If this weblog post has any purpose, it is to encourage people to wear colours that make them happy!

One example of a colour Richard appreciates could be described technically in any of three ways, as Hex: #7A0019; as RGB: (122,0,25); or as CMYK:(0,27,76,0). A colour picker is a tool that could help people visualize colours. On the same site, other tools are shown on the left. Color RBG, for example, allows one to input RGB colour codes, and see the result. It should be pointed out that buying fabric by colour code is a risk sport.

NRK = The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, featured a story about Hanna Breivik, from Steinkjer. Now, in 2021, she is 28, but has had serious problems with glaucoma since her birth. In addition, she has synesthesia. For most of her life she tried to remain invisible by wearing grey clothing. About five years ago, she went in a totally opposite and more colourful direction. She is now referred to as the rainbow woman.

There are a lot of questions that can be asked, regarding clothing colour and age. Do colour preferences shift/ transition with age? If they do, Why? If it is associated with other tastes and preferences, Why do tastes change? That, in turn begs the question, Why do colour tastes/ preferences emerge in the first place? How much does an individual’s childhood, culture and the imposition of arbitrary rules have to do with it? Do identical twins raised in divergent environments, develop the same colour preferences? What about non-identical twins of the same or different genders?

Note: all names in this weblog post have been changed to protect privacy.


The new Nuno R1 autonomous delivery vehicle has arrived, and if all goes well, it will soon be making grocery deliveries from Kroger to a house near you. Not near me, unfortunately, as the distance to my closest Kroger store is measured in thousands of kilometers.

Nuro R1 Autonomous Delivery Vehicle (Photo: Nuro, 2018)

While the Nuro may have OK styling, its design is not great. Take the hinged (gull-wing?) door openings. They are much wider and thus heavier than necessary to provide full access to the storage areas. There is no reason for these doors to open as widely as the do. The vehicle rakes, unnecessarily, front and back. Why isn’t this area being used to house navigational equipment, instead of the centre of the vehicle, which could be designed to include more storage space?

In contrast, here is my own attempt at a delivery vehicle design that does address some of these issues, although the purpose of this vehicle is transport of building materials, rather than groceries. Even the colour is an improvement on dull beige-brown.

Autonomous delivery vehicle for construction materials, with vehicular control mechanisms at body ends. Battery pack is located under floor.

There are too many stylists at work, masquerading as designers. In the 1950s,  stylists knew they were stylists.

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Club Hardtop at weekly Garden Grove, California car show 2004-05-14. (Photo: Morven CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Nineteen Fifty Seven represented a high point for American car styling, but not for car design. This is seen particularly in low-end brands, such as Chevrolet, Ford and Plymouth. In contrast,  facelifted 1958 models are regarded with less esteem, although not quite as low as the 1959 models.

The 1957 Fords were all about styling, one that dramatically changed passenger car appearance the most since 1949. There were 20 different models, on two separate wheelbases. Body styles included two- and four-door sedans, hardtops, wagons, a convertible, a retractable hardtop and a sedan/pickup. These were all available in more colors and two-tone combinations than ever before. There were six engine options, five of them V-8s.

The challenge with making so many different products is that there is no place for design. I will not be buying a 1957 Ford, or any other heritage car. They are just too impractical – too low, too long, too extreme in styling language.

There is a similar situation in the world of fashion. Fortunately, in my world many of my outer clothes, especially shirts and socks, are bespoke. Material is selected specifically for each garment, sleeve length is cut perfectly, each shirt has two pockets, buttons are placed where I want them. Not every man, has a wife who has such abilities and interests. Without being too disparaging, I would say that I have one shirt design, that is then styled to meet specific requirements in each garment.

There may be a few more variations on designs for chinos and jeans, but most of these differ only in terms of their styling. I have learned to live with a particular off the rack style of chinos. They come in more or less standard design, with components that can be traced back to the 19th century. The original watch pocket has been repurposed many times. A Levi-Straus blog comments about many of these same components in jeans:

Protective Gloves

While everyone knows that a glove is a garment covering the whole hand, not everyone is familiar with gloves as Personal Protective Equipment. There are 3 categories of gloves specifying levels of risk. Category 1 is for simple gloves, for minimal risks only. Cleaning and gardening gloves are often found here. Category 2 is for intermediate risks, those that are neither minimal nor deadly/ irreversible. This includes gloves offering good puncture and abrasion performance. Category 3 is for irreversible or deadly risks, and gloves in this category must be designed to protect against the highest levels of risk.

Work gloves for woodworking are classified in category 2. Some of the functions that that can be important are: protection against cold, protection against cuts, and water protection – either water resistant or waterproof. Durability and versatility are also important considerations. In addition, gloves should fit! Poor fit can reduce performance and/or protection, and increase the risk of chafing and injury.

The Guide 5002 glove for outdoor workers in fields as divergent as construction and kindergartens.

Glove size is dependent on hand width and length. To find circumference, wrap a measuring tape around dominant hand (without thumb) just below knuckles, and make a fist. To find length measure from the bottom edge of the palm to the tip of the middle finger. Despite standards, measurements don’t always help.

Personally, I have a circumference of 275 mm (EU-10), but a length of 210 mm (EU-11). However, after spending an hour at a local store selling PPE and attempting to try on several pairs, the results were: Size 10 was hopeless; size 11 felt tight; I ended up with a size 12, as shown in the photo below.

These red gloves, suitable for woodworking, were only available in one colour combination red and black. They were the only work gloves sold by the shop in size 12.


In Europe, there are a number of standards (EN = European Norm) for gloves. EN 420 provides general specifications, EN 388 defines levels of protection against mechanical risks (abrasion / cut / tear / puncture) and electronic discharge, while EN 511 addresses cold and wet issues. Other standards extend requirements for special uses, such as welding EN 12477.

EN 420 specifies some general requirements for protective gloves. For example, it requires that the gloves themselves should not impose a risk or cause injury; that their pH be as close as possible to neutral. It also addresses allergy issues. For example, chromium content is limited to a maximum of 3 mg/kg (chrome VI). It also specifies hand size requirements.

1. Resistance to abrasion

Based on the number of cycles required to abrade through the sample glove (abrasion by sandpaper under a stipulated pressure). Performance level 1 to 4, depending on how many revolutions are required to make a hole in the material. The higher the number, the better the glove. See table below.

2 Blade cut resistance

Based on the number of cycles required to cut through the sample at a constant speed. Performance level 1 to 4.

3 Tear resistance

Based on the amount of force required to tear the sample.
Performance level 1 to 4.

4 Puncture resistance

Working with electronic components can require that gloves be used to reduce the risk of electrostatic discharge. A pictogram will indicate if gloves have passed the relevant test.

EN 511 measures how the glove’s material leads cold (first digit, convective cold with performance level 0-4 where a higher number is better ), as well as its the material’s insulating capacity, with contact (second digit, contact cold with performance level 0-4). A third digit shows if water penetrates the glove after 30 minutes.

Many glove manufacturers have detailed information about their products, and protection standards. This is true of Australian Ansell Limited and the Swedish, Skydda Protecting People Europe AB, which markets products under the name Guide.

Living in Norway, I try to support Scandinavian companies.  Skydde PPE has its own YouTube channel. Most videos on the channel are in Swedish, unfortunately: At least two of their videos are made in Bergen to emphasize gloves that protect against wet and cold (in a kindergarden) in addition to mechanical injury (carpentry). Here the spoken Bergen dialect is texted into Swedish.


Workshop Tools: Gloves

Take a close look at the following photo, and you will see the hands of an idiot who was not following safety procedures. He was not wearing gloves.  Yes, he can find extenuating circumstances to explain away both incidents. The injuries are minor. That is not the point. Both incidents could have been avoided if gloves had been used.

Unnecessary injuries caused by not wearing gloves.

People who work with sharp tools should wear gloves. It should be part of the kit!

A glove, part of the safety equipment every woodworker should learn to wear.


In my own unique way, I am attempting to rehabilitate the term “redneck”. On Tuesday, 2018-04-17, my wife, Patricia, made me a red bandanna. She also made herself a blue headscarf. These do not indicate political differences between us, but rather personal colour preferences.

Because the red cotton material is heavy, and identical to that used on my labcoat, it was difficult to knot. Thus, rather than tying it, I  constructed a Turk’s Head woggle that was ready on Saturday, 2018-04-21. It is made out of 4mm white parachute cord.

Redneck(erchief) with Turk’s Head woggle aka slide.

Redneck History

One of the earliest recorded uses of Redneck dates from the 1890’s. It refers to “poorer inhabitants of the rural districts…men who work in the field, as a matter of course, generally have their skin burned red by the sun, and especially is this true of the back of their necks”.

In 1921, the term became synonymous with armed insurrection against the state, as members of the United Mine Workers of America tied red bandannas around their necks during the Battle of Blair Mountain, a two week long armed multi-racial labor uprising in the coalfields of West Virginia. This has been noted in an earlier blog post.

​From the mid-1950s, and forward to today, the term has become increasingly demeaning. This is one way in which an economic elite can “divide and conquer”. They not only dehumanize the working class poor, they try to create ethnic and racial divides. “Redneck” is part of a trilogy of degrading names to describe rural poor, the others being  “white trash” and “hillbilly”.

In much the same way that the term “queer” was rehabilitated by homosexuals, “redneck” is meeting its own renaissance. Redneck Revolt was founded in 2016 as an armed, anti-racist, anti-fascist community. Personally, I won’t be joining this revolt, if only for two reasons. First, the term “anti-” creates unnecessary divisions; second, my commitment to pacifism means that I won’t be carrying a weapon.


The first rule of working from home: never wear pyjamas

Today’s Guardian offers insight into what to wear when working from home. Anything but pyjamas, appears to be the answer, but you can read the article itself here:

This article had such emotional appeal to me, that I felt compelled to offer the following comment:

I have a 20m (60 foot) commute from the house to the workshop (converted garage). This requires that I dress. A few months ago I bought new glasses, with red frames! Now, almost my entire work wardrobe is red from a toque (winter) or baseball cap (summer) down. The last item I put on is my lab-coat complete with embroidered name tag. It is a bit difficult to mention this in front of a bunch of fashionistas, such as yourselves, but I have a couple of areas where colour-coordination has failed me. My safety-shoes are dark blue. Fortunately, they are so old and worn that the metal shows through. The same also applies to my hearing protection which is signal yellow. Yes, I know that this is a bit off topic, but ask forgiveness for mentioning that the workshop itself is OSB, painted white. Most of the stationary machines are signal blue, while more portable machines are signal red. My 60 cm x 40 cm desk is signal yellow.

Ethan & Ethel 01: Personal Safety Equipment

Welcome to the Unit One Work Space, Ethan & Ethel. Here, everyone is required to wear appropriate clothing and safety equipment.

A lot of information about personal protective clothing and equipment is available from WorkSafeBC:

Unit One uses the regulations here as guidelines for setting its own policy. Sometimes the rules are even stricter than those the government requires.

Identity Cards and Patches

At Unit One, everyone is issued an identity card. This contains a lot of information that could be needed in acute situations. For example, it lists name, birth date, blood type (if known), current medications, chronic medical conditions, allergies, personal contact information, and contact information in case of an emergency.

While this information is also stored in an encrypted format in the Unit One database, it is important to have this information physically available. Computers don’t always work.

Unit One Billi Sodd
Birthdate: 1950-01-01
Medications: Insulin
Allergies: none
Blood Type: O
Emergency Contact: Ivan Sodd 604-527-4660

The ID card also lists courses you have taken such as first aid and hot work, as well as the machines your are qualified to use.



Expiry Date

First Aid Basic 2019-01-01
Hot Work Basic 2020-01-01
Table Saw Supervisor 2020-01-01
Mitre Saw Supervisor 2020-01-01
Band Saw Supervisor 2020-01-01
Planer Basic 2025-01-01
Router Basic 2025-01-01
CNC Lathe; Mill 2025-01-01
Electronics DC; AC 2050-01-01
3D printer Basic 2050-01-01
Laser cutter None

A Unit One ID patch is available to sew onto work jackets. This includes the Unit One logo, and your name. Its colour indicates your work status: orange – novice, must work under supervision; yellow – qualified, allowed to work without supervision; white – supervisor, allowed to train and supervise other people; blue – member of the board of directors.


Personal clothing must be of a type and in a condition which will not expose the worker to any unnecessary or avoidable hazards. First of all, this means that no dresses or skirts are allowed, girls. This is because trousers are safer to work in. Because there is a danger of contact with moving parts of machinery or with electrically energized equipment, clothing must fit closely about the body,

Everyone at Unit One wears trousers. This model includes space for knee protection. (photo: Jula)

Neckwear, bracelets, wristwatches, rings or similar articles may not be worn, except for medical alert bracelets. Similarly cranial (that means head) and facial hair must be confined, or worn at a length which will prevent it from being snagged or caught in the work process.

Everyone at Unit One must have suitable gloves to protect hands from abrasion, chemical or other injury.

Flame resistant clothing must be worn when performing hot work, including welding.


Unit One provides safety headgear in situations where there is a danger of head injury. Our headgear is colour coded (see above).

Orange headgear, worn when needed. The orange colour indicates that the person wearing it is a novice who can work only under supervision. (photo: Jula)

Eyewear & face protection

Properly fitting safety eyewear must be worn if one is handling or exposed to materials which are likely to injure or irritate the eyes. In some cases these must be fitted with sideshields.

safety glasses
Eye Protection (photo: Jula)

If there is a risk of face injury, suitable face protection must be worn.


Footwear must be of a design, construction, and material appropriate to the protection required. The following factors must be considered: slipping; tripping; uneven terrain; abrasion; ankle protection and foot support; potential for musculoskeletal injury; crushing potential; temperature extremes; corrosive substances; puncture hazards; electrical shock; any other recognizable hazard.

Hearing protection

While we have a supply of ear plugs at Unit One, we encourage people to use ear muffs. These offer less noise-reduction variability among users, are designed so that one size fits most head sizes, are not easily misplaced or lost, and may be worn with minor ear infections. However, they are less portable and heavier than ear plugs, may be less convenient for use with other personal protective equipment, may be less comfortable with hot work, and may interfere with the wearing of safety glasses because wearing glasses breaks the seal between the ear muff and the skin, resulting in decreased hearing protection.

ear muffs
Ear Muffs (photo: Jula)

Respirators and face masks

We typically use non-powered, air purifying half facepieces with sorbent cartridges when working with organic solvents. If dust is the issue, we use face masks.

Respirator used when working with organic solvents. (photo: Jula)

First Aid kit

At the entrance to Unit One there is a first aid kit that contains most items that should be used to treat minor injuries. This kit is never locked, and is accessible to everyone.

first aid kit
This is the first aid kit we have at Unit One. The lock has been disabled so that anyone can access it. (photo: Jula)

Fire extinguishers

Unit One is equipped with two fire extinguishers, suitable for all types of fires. These are located at opposite ends of the workshop.

fire extinguisher
Unit One is equipped with two fire extinguishers, one each at either end of the workshop. (photo: Jula)

Next time, we will be focusing on air quality management.

Uniforms: Millennial, War, Inter-war & Boomer

(Just like Cliff Cottage, this blog has its storage problems. Posts get written, then get stored, never to be published. Yet sometimes small miracles happen. This post that has been in storage since June 2017 is now being published in October 2017.)

The image below is from the United Kingdom election in June 2017. American pussy hats have been replaced by British fox hats (to protest May’s support of fox hunting). “Rosie the Riveter” has been given tattoos. While I am not personally keen on camouflage jackets, I do like the red trousers. In fact, I have two pairs myself which I wear while working!

AFP 2017-06 UK election Revenge of the young
AFP 2017-06-08 UK election “Revenge of the young”

J. Howard Miller’s original poster is actually titled We Can Do It. It portrays Naomi Parker (later Fraley), working at the Alameda Naval Air Station, in California. It shows how production workers actually dressed. Created in 1942, displayed for two weeks in 1943, rediscovered in the 1980s.

J. Howard Miller 1942 We Can Do It

With the war over, more elegant attire could be worn, as shown in this 50 year old photograph of Diana Rigg 1938- (Emma Peel) and Patrick Macnee 1922-2015 (John Steed). They both belong to the inter-war generation.

PA 1965 Diana Rigg as Emma Peel & Patrick Macnee as John Steed in the Avengers.

I thought of ending this by showing a photo of some boomer hippies in the late 1960s. After having viewed countless images, I am forced to conclude that the world is better off not having to look at them again.