Wovember Words: Waulking

Hmmmmmmmmmm

Wovember

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.

waulking in Harris

The ends of a length of newly woven cloth are sewn together to make a circle, and the cloth is then placed on a large trestle table and soaked in hot urine*. An even number of women sit at the table, say 12 with six-a-side, and the cloth is passed around sunwise, to the left in kneeding motion. They reach to the right and clutch the cloth, draw in, pass to the left, push out and free the hands to grasp again to the right. One, two, three, four slowly the rhythm emerges.

Ethnomusicologist Margaret Fay Shaw described the practice of waulking the cloth -the process of washing, beating…

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