Working with wool, Eriskay

  'Isle Eriskay, Outer Hebrides. Wool working, 1934.   After shearing, the wife sorts the wool, carefully putting aside the coarser parts, washes and dries it and again examines and teases it. At this stage the wool is dyed from local plants (mostly lichens and ferns), washed and dried again, carded and spun into thread, put on the winding wheel and taken to the weaver, who puts it into her loom.   After the web of cloth is woven it is waulked to thicken and strengthen and brighten it. It is saturated with urine, the women working it vigorously from side to side (this is generally done by young girls, singing as they work, one singing the song, the others the chorus, perhaps a combat between two of the girls about the supposed merits or demerits of their respective lovers). Whisky flows in great quantities. The operation lasts for two hours until the weaver, who is supervising it, is satisfied that the cloth is well waulked.'   Dr Kissling's note, 1978   Top left: Mary Johnstone and Mary MacIsaac sorting wool.   Top right: Bean Sheonnaidh 'ic Dhonnaicheadh (Mary MacInnes) carding wool. Bean Iagain Mhoir sits beside her at the spinning wheel.   Bottom left: Bean Iagain Mhoir at her loom. She was an expert wool-worker.   Bottom right: A group of people at the luadh (waulking the wool). This group includes Bean Sheonnaidh 'ic Dhonnaicheadh (Mary MacInnes), Bean Iagain Mhoir, and Peigi Anaoghais.   Research note, 2019
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Creator :
Dr Werner Kissling
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Accession number :
PP/KISSLING COLLECTION, Retrospective 1978/13-16
Copyright :
Dumfries & Galloway Council
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