Sally Antill: Evolution of the Soft Fell sheep #2

In week one of WOVEMBER we met Sally Antill who discussed the unique fleeces of the Soft Fell sheep that she and her husband, Michael, breed and their involvement in a fantastic community ‘sheep to shawl’ event, in Northumberland. Today Sally is here again to discuss the evolution of the breed, one which produces a… Continue Reading Sally Antill: Evolution of the Soft Fell sheep #2

Wovember Words: Een Teen Thuther Futher Fipps

Following from this post about sheep counting words in Cumbria, TEAM WOVEMBER have been doing some sleuth work re: other sheep-counting words in different places and regions. According to a source quoted below, a variation on Yan Tan Tether Mether Pip was used in Lincolnshire, with a further version was reported to have been in… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Een Teen Thuther Futher Fipps

Wovember Words: Grey Hodden

We shall be hearing more from Kate Graham this evening, and as we were thinking yesterday about coloured fleeces and their sale and use, I came across the phrase “Hodden Grey” in K.G. Ponting’s worthy tome, The Wool Trade. Herdwick photo, © Kate Davies The Herdwick is a very hardy breed found in Cumberland and… Continue Reading Wovember Words: Grey Hodden

Wovember Words: The Advent of Man-made Fibres

Today we reflect on why and when wondrous WOOL began to be blended with, or supplanted by, man-made fibres. We delve into K.G. Ponting’s important tome – ‘The Wool Trade’ – to find the key roles that cost and rayon-viscose played in these developments. During the nineteenth century attempts were first made to cheapen wool… Continue Reading Wovember Words: The Advent of Man-made Fibres

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


In the late 19th century, Dr Gustav Jaeger developed a philosophy of ‘sanitary clothing’ in which wool is given the spotlight. In contrast to ‘chilling materials’ such as linen and cotton, wool could absorb and pass away the ‘noxious exhalations’ of the body. In 1884 the Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System was founded by English… Continue Reading WOVEMBER WORDS #28


Wool has some amazing qualities, all in one fibre, grown naturally: The first thing to know about wool is that it is hygroscopic – a great trait for clothing and an equally great word for your next crossword puzzle or cocktail party. Hygroscopic means that the fiber is able to absorb up to 30% of… Continue Reading WOVEMBER WORDS #27


As we are nearing the end of our Working with Wool section, we have a lot of woolly words to share with you today, therefore Wovember Words will be short: Numerous kinds of fibres, animal, vegetable, and mineral, are used in weaving. The best known, and probably the most useful, is wool. In section, magnified,… Continue Reading WOVEMBER WORDS #24

Wovember Words #19

Two days ago we posted Wovember Words #17, which talked about the gig mill, which is used to raise the nap on woven cloth. The accompanying picture showed a Victorian billiard table, which is covered in napped green woollen cloth. However, when Linda Scurr visited the National Wool Museum, she took some pictures of an… Continue Reading Wovember Words #19