Inheriting the trait from my grandfather, my mother, bless her, loved words. She loved to read words. She loved to research words – where they began, who said them, how they evolved into modern language and usage. Or, how they ceased to evolve and lay unused for eons in some antique dictionary.
Like a limpet, she clung to a favored word and carried it with her everywhere. Then, when she saw an opportunity to use the word (correctly, of course, and in such a way as to enlighten), she secretly straightened her posture. With a twinkle in her Bonnie* blue eyes and a hint of a smile, just broad enough to activate the dimple in her cheek, she injected into the conversation the chosen missile.
Her word was pronounced correctly in clear, concise, clipped tones of the same ancient English language her ancestors brought to America nearly 380 years ago. Yes, the 1630s! The unbelievable part of this is my family protected its English accent and way of speaking for so many years.
But if you think historically, I guess it is understandable. Soon after arriving on this continent, the Martins, the Benedicts and some other newbies gravitated northward to settle upstate New York where they stayed for more than 200 years before some of the families traveled by wagon train to North Dakota. Most of them ended up in rural Iowa where they stayed for another 120 years – until the 1930s. Living isolated out in the boonies without modern communications systems, the written word was their conduit to the outside world. No wonder their speech patterns remained intact for such a long time.
Well, enough genealogy. Back to my story.
Now, where was I?
Oh, yes. I remember when Mother fell in love with the word dimity, which isn’t used much these days, and in the old days wasn’t used that much either. Dimity is the name of a kind of lightweight cloth (cotton in the old days and could be cotton blend today) mostly used for undergarments and curtains, and sometimes for women’s dresses. So you can see that unless you were talking about these items – or maybe if you are a weaver of cloth – it is improbable you ever would hear the word spoken. But as a young girl, I heard it spoken quite often for a while. And as the years passed, that old word would rise again from time to time.
I won’t digress again to mention everything I’ve heard about the word’s adoption into Middle English from Latin, or its Greek usage. I’ll leave all that up to you. It will be enough to say dimity is a thinnish** cotton fabric with a stripe (warp) and/or a check (weft) of heavier yarn, and that it is made stronger than other fabric of the same weight by the extra yarn in the stripes or checks. Well, that’s about all there is to be said about it, anyway.
This story really is about the word, dimity, which popped into my head recently and stayed to replay old echoes as if they were popular songs, which after you hear them roll around for hours like thunder in your mind, it makes you crazy. Since I know of no one who can exorcise this demon from my head, I write this treatise hoping the energy you use in reading it will suffice to do the job. For my part, I send to you pictures I have pinched from the few web sites which do mention the d***** word. Also, I found a site which told about a project to weave dimity towels (slightly heavier than historic for this material). Ms. Sally Orgren directed the project, Dishtowels in Dimity for Hill House, in which participants contributed to the weaving.
As your reward for bearing with me, I share with you my own weaving drawdown of the Hill House Project, a combination of plain weave and twill. I ended up not weaving it as the floats on the reverse side of the twill sections seemed long enough to catch the odd diamond ring. (There are pros and cons to making drawdowns.)
No diamond should be snatched off a finger by a towel. It’s bad enough when you get old and on a fixed income and have to sell your diamonds to buy yarn so you can weave a shawl to cover your bony shoulders. Until next time —
If you would like to read more about the Martin and Benedict family genealogy, please find “Birds of a Feather . . .” in the menu to your left and click on the link. It will be found in the archives under November 2014.
More later . . .