Siege Diaries 2/2/2021


Today’s Daily Stoic writing prompt:  What impulses rob me of self-control?

I have a confession to make.  A few weeks into lockdown last Spring, I posted hopefully about how I’d managed to stop picking at my fingers.  Perhaps I’d broken the habit!

Nope.  I’m wearing three bandaids right now.  This is one habit–more likely a bit of a compulsion–that isn’t going down without a fight.  

The same goes for the externally-motivated kneejerk reactions I mentioned yesterday–although those I’ve been able to, over the years, temper somewhat.

The finger thing does really bother me, though.  I know it’s likely some kind of anxiety-driven compulsive behaviour;  I’m lucky that it’s the only one I have that’s actually harmful.  (A related one is the need to pick pills off of sweaters).  Because of that, I’ve never felt a need to “get professional help” about it.  Maybe I should someday.  It certainly mucks with things like silk embroidery, as my rough fingers constantly catch on the silk. 

Winding embroidery thread, waiting for the Tuesday night meeting to start.  I decided to go ahead and card all of my loose skeins of embroidery cotton.  This includes a bag of assorted skeins I got when my mother-in-law died.  It occurred to me that for the purposes of actually using them it would help to have them all available on cards in the plastic box where I keep my cotton thread stash.  Well.  Turns out I had a lot more than I thought I did.  So here I am, cranking the thread winder (or at least I was) to the sounds of the Shostakovich Piano Trio #2–for the second time. Something about this piece was the right thing today, so after the Beaux Arts Trio recording, I’m now listening to the composer himself play the piano part, with violinist David Oistrakh and cellist Milos Sadlo.  It’s a remarkably good recording for 1947.  Shostakovich was an outstanding pianist, but stopped playing anything but his own works in his early 20s when it was clear he was a lot more talented as a composer.  There’s also the fact that he started having neurological problems in his early 50s that started hindering his abilities, so there’s really a sweet spot for recordings of him playing in about the 40s and early 50s–and this recording is right in there.  The Trio #2 easily ranks in my top ten Shostakovich pieces, and quite possibly in the top 5.  The slow movement is so achingly beautiful and yearning, and that’s just a little of the emotions that I was feeling today as CBC was kind of going on and on about Groundhog Day–more the movie than the day–and the feeling of sameness of so many days during the pandemic.  

Back to the thread winding.  One of the things I discovered as I went through the bag of floss is how many different brands of stranded cotton floss I had.  The labels at the top of this post tell a very interesting history.  I am familiar with three of the brands:   Clark’s (now usually known as Anchor), J&P Coats, and DMC.  

DMC, which is the ubiquitous brand in North America, turns out to stand for Dollfus Mieg & Compagnie:  Per Wikipedia:  

Dollfus-Mieg et Compagnie (abbreviated as DMC), is an Alsatian textile company created in Mulhouse, France in 1746 by Jean-Henri Dollfus. During the twentieth century, it was one of the largest European textile and industry groups. DMC was the owner and then shareholder of the Ronchamp coal mines. Listed on the Paris stock exchange since 1922, it merged with the Lille company Thiriez and Cartier-Bresson in 1961. After going through a crisis in the 1990s, the old company was liquidated in 2009. In September 2016, the British investment fund BlueGem Capital Partners purchased 100% of the capital of DMC.

Wow.  There’s more fascinating stuff in the Wikipedia entry.

Two more brands, Bucilla and Janlynn, are familiar to me via embroidery kits over the years.    Janlynn, in fact, made many of the crewel embroidery kits I completed in my teens and 20s, including the Siamese cat design I ended up doing twice.  It looks as if Janlynn may have acquired a company called Designs of the Needle, as there is another hank of floss with the same logo but without the Janlynn name that’s labeled Designs of the Needle.  The rest of the brands I’ve never heard of.   A little Googling revealed that Peri-Lustra was a Coats & Clark brand.  Rose Brand appears to still be available from China, Venus in Great Britain, and Puppets Mouline still seems to be sold in Hungary.  I could not find any further information on American Thread, Albion,  or Newton’s.  Countries of origin for the floss itself  appear to be England/Great Britain, France, China, United States, Mexico and Hungary.  

This does make me wonder about the history of six-stranded embroidery floss, and just how long it’s been a staple for embroiderers.  Perhaps a rabbit hole for the future?

In other news, I’ve signed up to do a 48-hour backlog scroll challenge being hosted by the Kingdom of An Tir this coming weekend.  Should be fun, and just the kind of deadline I love.  

By then, hopefully I can make it through The Land Beyond the Sea.  I’m on p. 125 and am off to read before heading to bed tonight.