I knew nothing about Edward Bransfield when I boarded the Island Sky in Ushuaia, Argentina.
I knew that Antarctica was inhospitable to human life. I had heard of Shackleton. I had heard of Scott. I knew that the boat trip across the Drake Passage could be a wing-dinger.
But I had not done enough homework. Not by a long shot.
In fact, I didn’t know about Edward Bransfield until I got back home. I had missed Mr. Jim Wilson’s talk on the man and his contribution to the exploration of the Antarctic Peninsula. I was still getting my “sea legs” at the time. (Translation: I had a touch of the Drake Passage Blues).
But on our way home with our hearts full of wonder and our brains stuffed with facts, the crew posted a sample of a tartan that was named Antarctica.
Designed by Rosalind Jones of Celtic Originals, it depicted the colors of the Antarctica. I loved it and wanted to weave it myself. But, somehow, it didn’t touch how I felt about the Seventh Continent. But it started me down a path where I had never been.
I had spent a week on the Island Sky with Jim Wilson (and a lot of other people). An outstanding man who hailed from Cork County, Ireland. He was the expedition expert in bird and whales. His photographs could make your heart stand still. I had enjoyed him from the first day since he is the only person I know (besides my immediate family) that knew that my first name was not a misspelling!
After I returned home and began going through my pictures I realized, to my dismay, that I did not have one of the only King penguin we saw. Poor guy was lost or stranded at Verdnansky Station surrounded by Adelie penguins. I wanted a picture of him. I had several email addresses from passengers and crew and began the email hunt for someone that had a picture of the King penguin.
Of course, Jim Wilson had one which he sent to me.
By this time I had begun the process of learning about tartan. I thought I might try my hand at weaving one. I queried Mr. Wilson on the subject and my tartan education took on a whole different direction.
As I sought and received more information about tartan I began designing. I had never designed anything that had so many rules so I sent various attempts to Mr. Wilson and received solid critiques and suggestions. Finally it was done. He liked it, I liked it and my weaving instructor LOVED it.
Mind you, the prototype is just that. It is computer generated. It has not been woven (yet). But the designing was done.
I wanted to “register” the design. That seemed like the thing to do.
I quickly discovered how serious the Scottish government takes the use of the term “tartan”. To use that term on woven cloth the pattern is suppose to be registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. And there are rules which must be followed!
I found the application and the rules of registry on line and began. Thread counts, specific wool, specific colors were required. I was able to meet those requirements.
But I needed a name for the tartan. “Antarctica” was already taken so I thought I might use Mr. Wilson’s name. He demurred and suggested I use the name Edward Bransfield.
Thus began my education into the life of an Antarctica explorer of renown.
I read everything on the Remember Edward Bransfield page on Facebook. I went to their website. I read everything I could find to try and get to know the man.
What I found was impressive. I gladly agreed to name the tartan after him for use by the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee. I submitted the application.
My contact at the Scottish Register of Tartan was a lovely woman who guided me through the maze of requirements. She needed to show the judging panel that I had permission to use the name Edward Bransfield. She needed a letter from the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee giving me that permission.
Back to Jim Wilson, chairman of the group, who wrote a wonderful letter to the Registry giving me permission to use the name.
On April 11, 2018, I received notice that the tartan name “Edward Bransfield Commemorative” was accepted into the Scottish Registry of Tartan. Shortly thereafter I received the official certificate.
(The thread count has been deliberately grayed as the pattern of this tartan cannot be woven without written person of myself or the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee.)
The specific type of Scottish wool was ordered and has arrived.
The weaving will begin shortly.
I have promised Mr. Wilson to keep the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee abreast of my weaving.
Do expect a weaving lesson in this. If you don’t weave, prepare to learn a new (or at least different) language. If you do weave, let me know if you see any glaring errors!
I am so excited about this project. Being in Antarctica changed me. Weaving this cloth will remind me every day of what I learned and what I felt on that trip.
May we all remember how precious our Earth is and how we are simply guests on it surface.