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the Darkest Day of the Year (2020)
"I'll stop wearing black when they make a darker color."
~ Wednesday Addams (1938)
Depending on your latitude, today or thereabouts marks the calendar year's earliest sunset. Darkness descends early, even before the winter solstice (the period of the shortest amount of daylight). If you are searching for a black tartan to match, sometimes 50 shades of grey just won't do! This particular tartan's pattern is made not with different color threads, but by different weaving and twisting techniques of the same black color threads, which causes the light to reflect differently, generating the distinctive warp and weft. Pictorially, the pattern below is represented by a lighter shade solely for illustration. 🖤
Although the Winter Solstice on December 21st has the shortest period of daylight measured from ssnset to sunrise, the day of the earliest sunset, the Darkest Day, occurs earlier, on or around December 8th, depending on your latitude. Because of a discrepancy between our modern-day timekeeping methods and the fact that a real solar day is not exactly 24 hours, there is a significant variation.
On most days, solar noon does not occur at the same time as noon on your watch. Around the solstices, solar noon occurs a few minutes later than the previous day. For example, on December 21, 2018, the day of the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice, solar noon in New York will be at 11:54 am EST. On January 3, 2019, the day of the latest sunrise, solar noon will take place 6 minutes later at Noon EST.
As solar noons increasingly occur later, sunrises and sunsets also steadily occur later each day after the winter solstice. This is why a location's earliest sunset occurs before, and its latest sunrise occurs after the winter solstice.
A tartan worthy of the Darkest Day is one of the most black tartans available, Dark Island. Shown here with a grey weave only to illustrate the patterning, in actuality this tartan is woven in a different way from a conventional tartan. An ecru yarn is woven on a Jacquard loom with the sett being formed by stitches other than the normal twill. Then the finished fabric is piece-dyed black.
Shown here, the patterning stitches are illustrated in grey so as to be discernible. But in the actual fabric, the sett is highlighted because of the differing light reflecting qualities of the stitches on the actual materials, creating a tartan pattern with all black.
This new category of tartan is called a "Solid Sett" - a solid colour but with a sett still showing.
The Dark Island tartan has become popularly available for kilts as one of the newer "black on black" tartans (Freedom of Scotland being another, with Ben Dubh a close cousin with its black and dark blue-grey colours).
If you are interested in how far darkness can go in manufactured pigments, click the shades of black for news about Vanta Black, a newly developed pigment that is so black, even spectrometers can't measure it!
Like the previous blackest of all pigments, Vantablack (a 2014 cutting-edge pigment which used carbon nano-tubes) the newest of black pigments are special material coatings, with light-absorbing capabilities that eliminate any perceptible dimensions on an object!