From colour to name

First things first – Happy Christmas to you all (I know it’s not quite Christmas yet, but I’m unlikely to write anything tomorrow.) May it be a joyful time for you and those you love, and if you give and receive presents at Christmas, may there be lots of stitchy goodies to enjoy.

Back to the subject of names now. There’s actually quite a lot about names in the Christmas story (John the Baptist and Jesus being given meaningful names, and Jesus being "Emmanuel" or "God with us") so perhaps the shift from Christmas to design names isn’t so odd after all!

Sometimes, the colours I use suggest a name – either the colours themselves, or the names that the manufacturers have given to the colours. To begin with the latter, that’s how Heather and Douglas got their names. They are two designs that more or less form a pair, echoing each other’s stitches and shapes, but more to the point here, sharing the same hand-dyed thread – Dinky Dyes perle in a shade called Airlie.

Heather Douglas

Now I know, of course, that Dinky Dyes are an Australian company. But my knowledge of Australian geography, apart from the better known cities and whatever names I picked up from Terry Pratchett’s Last Continent, is practically non-existent, so to me Airlie sounded Scottish. (There is in fact a place called the Airlie Estates in Scotland, near Kirriemuir – another name just waiting for a design – but what DD had in mind when naming their thread was probably Airlie Beach.)

So I had two designs that needed Scottish sounding names. When I was very young and dreamed of owning two Scottish terriers, I came up with Sporran and McTavish, and I did briefly toy with the idea of applying those names to the designs, but fortunately I resisted. Scotland reminds me of heather, and there were some light purple shades in there, so Heather it was. Douglas also sounded like a suitably Scottish name (the Black Douglas and all that), but it took me a while to realise why that name had popped into my head: the central bit of the design reminded me of the three legs in the flag of the Isle of Man, whose capital is Douglas!

Well, I never said my mind worked logically when thinking up names …

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