Tag Archives: Massachusetts

The First Day of Spring is Nigh

crocusAccording to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, spring, or the Vernal Equinox arrives on March 20 at 6:45pm EDT. The Vernal Equinox is the day when “day and night are each approximately 12 hours long (with the actual time of equal day and night, in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring a few days before the vernal equinox). The Sun crosses the celestial equator going northward; it rises exactly due east and sets exactly due west.” (http://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-seasons).

We are not so sure about the parenthetical bit about the actual time of equal day and night. True, the days are getting longer. And we are enjoying the increased daylight – maybe more this Spring than historically – but here in the Northeast (our T-shirt company has two primary locations: one in Vermont and one in Massachusetts) we are in a bit of limbo. Some call is Stick Season. Some call it Mud Season. Both names are quite accurate.

And so Stuck in the Mud, as it were, we are very keen for signs of spring. For us, spring isn’t just another season; it’s a chance to begin again. Here are a few signs that came to mind:

  • Seeds for sale in local stores
  • Daylight Savings Time
  • The beginning of Maple Sugaring season
  • The return of the red-winged black birds
  • Ice out (this is when the ice on frozen lakes and rivers gives way)
  • Snow drops, crocuses, daffodils
  • The smell of damp earth
  • Temperatures above freezing
  • Nesting birds
  • The beginning of baseball season
  • Trout season
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April Fools Day

Right around now, much of the team here at Comfort Colors is scheming to figure out how to make some in-person t-shirt deliveries to our customers in wonderful places like Key West and San Diego. The reasoning behind the scheming is that Mother Nature is playing an April Fools Day joke on the good people of Vermont and New England. Parts of Vermont had below zero temperature readings this morning. Parts of Massachusetts were just blasted by gale force winds and temperatures in the 20s. We know it’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature, but we do wonder where she got the idea to torture us like this.

So we thought we’d look into the origins of April Fools Day. While we absolutely love the notion of socially sanctioned silliness, it’s always fun to know where things come from. As it turns out, the beginnings of this wonderful day are a mystery, but there are a couple theories.

  • In 1582, the Pope decreed a new calendar: all of Christian Europe switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The new Gregorian calendar moved New Year’s Day from April 1 to January 1. Julian calendar fans kept right on celebrating the April date. Boom!
  • The ancient Romans had a festival called Hilaria, a day of merriment and rejoicing right around the Vernal Equinox (end of March). News.discovery.com tells us that “The modern equivalent of Hilaria is called Roman Laughing Day.”
  • In India and Nepal, people celebrate Holi, an ancient Hindu festival of colors, frolicking, and love. People gather the night before Holi to celebrate and sing around bonfires. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the fun: The_colors_of_Holi“The next morning is a free-for-all carnival of colours, where everyone plays, chases and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance.”
  • In the Middle Ages, the holiday was celebrated during the Feast of Annunciation, a late March holiday that marks Angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary telling her she is expecting.

Because the holiday is all about pranks and jokes, many have fabricated its origins. But being a company dedicated to color and fun, we’re considering going with the Holi option.

image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Holi_shop.jpg



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Shades of Green in Vermont and Massachusetts

shamrocksSt. Patrick’s Day is almost here. It’s a day we all lie about our heritage. But Comfort Colors is headquartered in Vermont and our other main dye house is in Massachusetts. Both states have huge Irish-American populations: Massachusetts has the largest percentage of Irish-Americans in the country – more than 23% of Bay Staters are of Irish descent; Vermont is among the top ten Irish states – more than 17% of Vermonters pledge allegiance. Not all of us are lying on the 17th.

The Washington Post tells us that “There are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million). Irish is the second-most common ancestry among Americans, falling just behind German.” (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/17/the-irish-american-population-is-seven-times-larger-than-ireland)

According to Forbes: “Twenty-two million Americans — 7.2% of the population – say their “primary ancestry” is Irish, according to the Census’s American Community Survey. Another 13.5 million Americans claim at least some Irish ancestry, bringing the total to 35.5 million Americans — 11.6% of the population — with at least partial Irish ancestry. If that sounds low, remember that Ireland’s population today is just 6.4 million – 4.6 million in the Republic of Ireland and 1.8 million in Northern Ireland. So there are more than 5 times as many Americans with at least partial Irish ancestry as there are people who live in Ireland.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/trulia/2013/03/15/americas-most-irish-towns/)

Wikipedia tells us that “the Irish language ranks 66th out of the 322 languages spoken today in the U.S., with over 25,000 speakers. New York State has the most Irish Gaelic speakers, and Massachusetts the highest percentage, of the 50 states.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_American)

Our country is greener than many think. In honor of such verdant roots, we give you some of our favorite t-shirt colors: Aloe, Bay, Blue Spruce, Dillweed, Celedon, Grass, Kiwi, Lime, Light Green, Monterey Sage, Moss, Neon Green, Sage, Sea, Willow, and of course, Emerald. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!

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T-shirt Weather and Signs of Spring

Seeing someone wearing a T-shirt outdoors used to be one of our first signs of Spring here at Comfort Colors, but recently it was in the upper 30s here in Vermont and we did see a guy outside in a T. Brrr. Normally we think of T-shirt weather as something north of 65 degrees. Until the thermometer begins to cooperate, we’ll have to find sings of Spring in other places.

crocus - signs of springCommon signs of Spring in this part of the country include crocuses, the smell of skunk, the appearance of robins and bluebirds, and honey bees getting back to work. In Vermont, our home state, ice-out is a major sign of the new season, as is the start of maple season when sap starts flowing in the trees. In Massachusetts, our second home, seeing ducks in the park chasing one another with amorous intentions is a sure sign that warmth is on the way. We also start to see cafés move some of their seating outdoors – a very civilized sign of Spring.

In the garment industry, the Pantone Spring Color Report is a sure sign of Spring. Here is a little preview:
“This season, consumers are looking for a state of thoughtful, emotional and artistic equilibrium,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “While this need for stability is reflected in the composition of the palette, the inherent versatility of the individual colors allows for experimentation with new looks and color combinations.”

The line up for Women’s fashion looks a little like this:
Placid Blue
Violet Tulip
Celosia Orange
Radiant Orchid
Dazzling Blue

And these are the Men’s colors:
Placid Blue
Purple Haze
Celosia Orange
Magenta Purple
Dazzling Blue

You can take the survey to vote for your favorites here. The men’s and women’s colors are quite similar, but the men’s hues tend to have descriptors like daring, intense and bold. But all in all the colors are quite good and very familiar, they are not unlike our own colors. It does not seem fair, though, that men do not get Radiant Orchid, in their palette this year. Guys need a lift, too!

Early Spring is a very good time to contemplate such wonderful colors, especially when the New England temperament has lost some of its humor. We are definitely looking forward to T-shirt weather.

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Cotton Weather and Signs of Spring

It is not yet t-shirt weather up here in the Northeast, but we have seen the very first sign of Spring: seed catalogs. The long winters in Vermont and Massachusetts leave gardeners (and other warm-blooded creatures) hankering for Spring. We need a little sunshine and the seed catalogs that arrive by mail right around this time of year have been a beacon of hope for almost two centuries.

cottonTheir promising images of blossoming green plants made some of our fans wonder about cotton plants. What kinds of weather can they tolerate? How far north can they grow? Should we start cotton seedlings indoors like some people start tomatoes?

The saying goes like this: “Cotton grows best in the best climate.” Cotton growers and snow-shovelers will agree that we do not exactly have “the best climate” here in the Northeast.

Our home states of Vermont and Massachusetts are in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4 – 6. To give you an idea of how the Hardiness Zones work, Zone 2 is up north around the Canadian border, Zone 10 is at the southern tip of Florida. The Zones are geographically defined areas distinguished by average annual minimum temperatures. Cotton is Winter hardy in USDA Zones 8 to 11, it does not like to get much colder than 30° F.

Though cotton grows all over the world, it needs a long, moist season in a temperate to hot climate. That’s why our VP, Kevin Camisa has so many friends in warm places. The cotton for most of our garments is grown by American Farmers in the right Hardiness Zones, where t-shirt weather starts early.

To our friends in New England, hang in there. Spring will be here before you know it. Stick to planting things like tomato seeds and zucchini. We’ll leave the cotton growing to those in the warm.

image source: http://thenounproject.com/term/cotton/7449/#_=_

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Cotton Pickin’ Cotton Planting and Goldy Locks

Looks like cotton, right?

Looks like cotton, doesn’t it?

As Spring plays its April Fools joke on most of New England (the forecast in Vermont this week includes snow; the forecast in Massachusetts includes below freezing temperatures at night), backyard farmers and gardeners are chomping at the bit.

“When can we get out there to our gardens?” This unanswered question makes some of us daydream about the possibilities. Some dream about vegetables, others want their own English gardens. One Vermont gardener we spoke to mused about planting cotton and making her own t-shirts.

According to the National Cotton Council of America, “the major cotton-producing states are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas, Florida, Kansas and Virginia.”

Could the weather forecast have something to do with the exclusion of Vermont and Massachusetts from this list? Surely.

cottonCotton grows in warm climates – places where people wear t-shirts year-round. Though tons of cotton is grown here in the US, most of the world’s cotton is grown in places like Uzbekistan, the People’s Republic of China, India, Brazil, Pakistan and Turkey.

Wiki.answers tells us that “Cotton grows best in best climate.” Cotton is the Goldy Locks of crops, demanding the perfect temperature and soil conditions: not too hot, not too cold, not too damp, not too dry.

Though we hate to be the Big Bad Wolf in the eyes of that Vermont gardening dreamer, we do recommend that she stick to basil and zucchini. We’ll take care of the t-shirts

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The Haute Hoodie: Comfort Colors or Saint Laurent?

MiamiViceOur primary dye houses are in Vermont and Massachusetts. These states have much in common: Vermont has the Green Mountains, Massachusetts has the Berkshires. Both states have mud season, both have fall foliage. Fashions in these two New England states are also similar, especially on Saturdays and at college: jeans and hoodies rule.

But when it comes to dressing up, our two states differ somewhat. Take ‘business casual’ for example. In Vermont, this means almost anything but jeans. In Massachusetts, men wear blazers, women might even don stockings. In both cases, business casual has never included a hoodie…until now.

The hoodie has finally broken through the glass zipper into haute couture. T-shirts have always had a place in high fashion – remember Don Johnson in Miami Vice? Snug-fitting T, linen suit… Now it’s time for the hoodie (or even the crew-neck sweatshirt).

Saint Laurent, Givenchy and Dior are making a move on the comfortable sweatshirt. Add a leather mini skirt and some gold bling, et bien, Voila! You’re keeping up with the Joneses. Gym-inspired fashion apparel.

The price tag on some of these hoodies and sweats might very well make you start to sweat: $675.

The ladies full-zip Comfort Colors hoodie (pre-shrunk 80% cotton, 20% polyester 10-ounce) could certainly do justice to this little mini and imagine how much money you’ll have left to spend on your alligator briefcase!

imaged credits:  http://www.sitcomsonline.com and http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com

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Doing good in the world – with Cotton and Barry Chouinard

Cotton_MatherRecent tragedies have brought us together as a nation – even if only to argue about guns and schools. But as we honor and cherish the children lost in Newtown last week, we’d like to take a moment to encourage you to look for and work for the good in your own community – that’s where doing good in the world starts.

Philanthropy and charitable giving are our national heritage. Benjamin Franklin is often thought of as the progenitor of modern philanthropy in the United States. In truth he was perhaps the founding nephew; he took his inspiration from Cotton Mather, the true father of modern philanthropy. (At Comfort Colors, we appreciate the significance of his first name.)

Cotton Mather (1663-1728) was a very cool guy. He graduated from Harvard in 1678 at age 15 and advocated philanthropy as a way of life. He published a widely read American classic, Essays to Do Good in 1710.

Barry ChouinardFranklin wrote to Cotton Mather’s son:  “When I was a boy, I met with a book, entitled Essays to Do Good, which I think was written by your father. It…gave me such a turn of thinking, as to have an influence on my conduct through life; for I have always set a greater value on the character of a doer of good, than on any other kind of reputation; and if I have been, as you seem to think, a useful citizen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book” (Franklin 1961, 197-8 – http://www.hks.harvard.edu).

At Comfort Colors, our founder Barry Chouinard is very active in his contributions to the communities here in Vermont and in Massachusetts. He inspires us to take action wherever and whenever we can. As a company, we support many charitable causes and encourage you to do the same.

This holiday season, take a tip from your Founding Father and give generously.

Happy Holidays!

image from en.wikipedia.org

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