Wovember Words: Baa Baa Black Sheep

Often the simplest sentiments have deep roots which are neither simple nor sentimental. Let’s look at an old favourite nursery rhyme… Original version: Bah, bah, black sheep, Have you any wool ? Yes, marry have I, Three bags full; One for my master, One for my dame, But none for the little boy Who cries… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Baa Baa Black Sheep

Wovember Words: Alnagers

I was reading about the history of woollen blanket manufacture in Witney, Oxfordshire, when I came across a curious term: “alnagers”. Further reading revealed that ‘Alnage, or aulnage (from Fr. aune, ell) is the official supervision of the shape and quality of manufactured woollen cloth’ and that alnagers were the official practitioners of Alnage. They… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Alnagers

Wovember Words: Click go the shears

Team WOVEMBER’s Louise cannot resist a woolly song or poem. I was searching for a song for your Sunday listening pleasure and I found Click Go The Shears, an Australian folk song from the turn of the 19th Century. This is a totally new one on me, but may be familiar to some of you.… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Click go the shears

Wovember (lack of) Words: In Sheep's Clothing

Ahead of this week’s Friday Night Vi-EWE-ing, Louise has fallen into the archive rabbit hole again to bring you an early WOVEMBER matinee. Not so heavy on the words, the film in question is Jenny Gilbertson’s silent film, In Sheep’s Clothing (1932) Jenny Gilbertson, nee Brown, was born in Glasgow at the turn of the… Continue Reading Wovember (lack of) Words: In Sheep's Clothing

Wovember Words: St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Wool combers

While I was thumbing through Sue Blacker’s book, Pure Wool, I came across a reference to St. Blaise which led me to investigate and uncover the story of the Patron Saint of Wool combers… If the yarn is to be worsted-spun, the wool is taken half-carded to a series of machines which align the fibres… Continue Reading Wovember Words: St. Blaise, Patron Saint of Wool combers

Wovember Words: branks, yokes, pokes or bjoags?

Last week TEAM WOVEMBER featured sheep bells in Wovember Words. This prompted Louise to look into something touched on in Stella Sutherland’s poem (also last week) with the Shetland Ewe wearing her “hard triangle of sticks”.  As a small child I was often surrounded by sheep on our croft on Bressay and was quite familiar with their… Continue Reading Wovember Words: branks, yokes, pokes or bjoags?

Wovember Words: Waulking

Here at WOVEMBER we have already looked at some of the actions and words which have historically been associated with shepherding. Here we have another action associated with wool working, which has it’s own unique method and measure. The ends of a length of newly woven cloth are sewn together to make a circle, and… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Waulking

Wovember Words: Bellwether

One of the wondrous things about WOVEMBER is how much WOOL information comes through in your comments. A few years ago several remarks on this post informed me that a Bellwether is a castrated ram that wears a bell around its neck and leads the rest of the flock about. The bell enables the shepherd… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Bellwether

Wovember Words: Yan Tan Tether Mether Pip

Sheep counting systems are a fascinating fragment of our dialectal history in Britain. Thought to be remnants of Brythonic languages there are variations in the dialect words that differ from Scotland, and throughout England and Wales. There is a similarity that runs through the systems and the ethnologist in me wants to travel back in time through the… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Yan Tan Tether Mether Pip

Wovember Words: Shetland Claith

When I did my degree at the School of Scottish Studies, I loved nothing more than sitting in the sound archive and listening to field recordings and oral histories, which have been collected there since the school was founded in 1951. Over the last 60 years there are thousands of recordings of songs, music, tales,… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Shetland Claith