Contributor: Barra Waulking Women
Fieldworker: Thorkild Knudsen
Response: Louise Scollay
I have a lifelong love – some might say obsession – of textiles and craft and often this spills over into our collections. I am always seeking out the hand-made in our archives.
Whilst working from home, I have been listening to material from the sound collections related to wool and spinning. The song Òganaich Dhuinn a Rinn M’ Fhàgail, was performed in Barra as a waulking song – beat-driven songs, performed by women during the process of fulling the newly spun cloth . It is noted that this particular song was also used to accompany spinning and, upon reading that, I didn’t need much convincing to get my spinning wheel out and give it a go myself.
Accompanied by the Wauliking Women of Barra, I spun prepared Zwartbles fibre (a breed of sheep from the Netherlands, which is well established in the UK) and then plyed that yarn with Hebridean wool. These were the two kinds of wool I had to hand – I wouldn’t ordinarily spin two similarly coloured breeds together. It was a pleasing spinning experience doing it to music – although it was hard to keep time – some breeds of wool and different preparations prefer a slower tempo to others! That beat and the vocables though, stayed with me a long time after the spinning wheel was put away.
While the spinning was a pleasant experience, it was less easy to film oneself in the process at the same time. Nonetheless, here is my spun response to Òganaich Dhuinn a Rinn M’ Fhàgail.
Louise Scollay is Archive & Library Assistant at The School of Scottish Studies Archives.