Thursday, September 4, 2008

waulking the wool: today's history lesson, clò mór

right this second:
i'm watching a program on american folk music on pbs lomax the songhunter.

(wonderful wonderful wonderful. AMAZING. if you get a chance to catch it please do so. i'm begging you to do so. it's the source of our being. our music. i'm guessing you can also order the dvd from pbs). this posting isn't really about the program or the music though (although i cannot stress to you how very imporant this is not just to me, but to us as a people) at one point they were talking about women 'shrinking the tweed'. they had film and audio accompanying it. the segment was on work songs (from the sea coasts of the british isles in this case. not to worry, they didn't miss the american work songs, especially those of prisoners, i.e. ledbelly). i had never heard of working or waulking the tweed.
gaelic songs of scotland
From Alan Lomax’s Hebridean odyssey in the summer of 1951 comes this selection of songs habitually used by women to accompany daily or seasonal toil: the tending of cattle, the carding and spinning of wool, the shrinking of tweed through the communal task of waulking. All the tracks have been remastered from the original field recordings, made mostly in the islands of Barra, South Uist and Benbecula, with an additional two recorded in Glasgow from a Lewis singer plus one from a woman brought up in Moidart on the West Highland mainland.

since this blog features yarns and wools and knits and crafts so very much, i thought i'd post on

Harris Tweed:
The Fabric of Island Life

You probably think of Harris Tweed as a heavy, rough, and hairy fabric in muted brown colorings. But today's Harris Tweeds go a long way toward dispelling this old notion. At a September 2000 event at Dover House, home of the Scottish Office in London, some 25 hip British designers staged a fashion presentation that introduced Harris Tweed, women's wear in particular, in eloquent, ambitious design statements. Alexander McQueen's Grey Lady ballgown, hand patchworked to form an intricate jigsaw of different Harris Tweeds mixed with distressed mohair, and Vivienne Westwood's quirky "highland" suit, in a superfine shadow-check, creatively reworked the traditional cloth. Camilla Ridley appliquéd a lavender herringbone suit with suede, and Bruce Oldfield trimmed a blue one with iridescent sequins. Accessory designers dreamed up Harris Tweed stilettoes, handbags of all sizes and shapes, and even tweed chokers and cuffs.

The story of Harris Tweed begins and ends in the Scottish Outer Hebrides, about 40 miles off the northwest coast of Scotland. Physically linked like a Siamese twin to the Isle of Lewis, in the north, the Isle of Harris, in the south, is mountainous with rocky coasts. Bright blue patches of water with yellow lichen-encrusted rocks stretch for miles. Lavender heather, fields of daisies, buttercups, and blue bells flourish amid clumps of iris and assorted flowering plants of bright yellow, pink, and white. Blackface and Cheviot sheep roam the countryside and peat moors, where island inhabitants still cut and stack dark brown squares of peat for fuel...........

and this is a most fabulous site for waulking info. check it out. it includes plenty of links to MORE waulking info (and songs)

and look what i found!!!

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