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Category Archives: Wool and Sheep

Idioms for Rughookers

By | Food for thought, Wool and Sheep | 3 Comments


I came across these idioms – a few were very familiar, and a couple were new to me. Thought you’d get a kick out of them, too…

More cry than wool:
A great deal of fuss, noise, fanfare, or protestation over something of little or no substance, importance, or relevance. For example, My opponent has been making outlandish claims about my track record, but I assure you, his remarks are more cry than wool.
Variants: All cry and no wool, and Great cry and little wool.

All wool and a yard wide
Genuine, not fake; of excellent quality; also, honorable. For example, You can count on Ned – he’s all wool and a yard wide. This metaphorical term alludes to a length of highly valued pure-wool cloth that measures exactly a yard (and not an inch less). [Late 1800s]

Pull the wool over someone’s eyes
Deceive or hoodwink someone, as in His partner had pulled the wool over his eyes for years by keeping the best accounts for himself. This term alludes to the former custom of wearing a wig, which when slipping down can blind someone temporarily. [c. 1800]


if you describe someone as dyed-in-the-wool, you mean they have a very strong position and will not change (always before noun). Example: He’s a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist where cooking is concerned – he won’t have any modern gadgets in the kitchen. or He’s a dyed-in-the wool farmer. From clothing made from yarn that was dyed before weaving, so the dyeing process was more likely to be thorough, and the fabric would retain its color longer.

Indulging in wandering fancies or absent-minded indulgence in fantasy; daydreaming. As in Stop your woolgathering and do the dishes!
Origin: the practice of wandering to gather tufts of wool caught on thorns and hedges.

Oh, and thanks to www​.yourdictionary​.com​, the American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, and the Oxford English Dictionary, she said sheepishly

The Wonder of Wool

By | Textiles, Wool and Sheep | 2 Comments

image ATHM image

I’ve never been to the American Textile History Museum, though it’s only an hour and a half from home. But the current exhibit at this museum in Lowell, MA., an affiliate of the Smithsonian, could change that.

The exhibit is called The Wonder of Wool – Ancient Fiber to Modern Marvel. Here’s a description:

Through December 31, 2015. Wool is one of the most commonly used fibers in the world and easily the most misunderstood. Wonder of Wool takes a captivating look at the significance of wool, giving you a new understanding and appreciation of this fascinating fiber.

The Wonder of Wool explores the unique characteristics of the fabric that have made it so useful both historically and today, with a broad range of uses. The exhibit shatters many of the misconceptions of wool: that it is itchy, only for cold weather, hard to wash, can’t get wet, and has a bad odor.

Visitors to Wonder of Wool can experience the diversity of the wool fibers, from the rough and scratchy 19th century carpet wool to today’s supple and silky wool fabrics used in men’s suits. The exhibit also features woolen clothing through the centuries. Visitors will see what wool fiber looks like at a microscopic level and how that translates to wearability and performance.

The exhibit explores the history of wool, with images from the first recorded use by the Greeks and Romans to modern day. Bedouin desert nomads wore wool because it was cool. Until the 20th century, with the advent of synthetic fibers, wool was a popular year-round fabric. The competition with the synthetic fabrics forced wool manufacturers to focus on creating more attractive and wearable fabrics, by processes to smooth out the wool fibers, making them softer, finer and gentler to the touch – and easier to clean.

Wool is one of the four most common natural fibers and, therefore, sheep have been of great interest to farmers, breeders, spinners, dyers, weavers, manufacturers, economists, politicians, and even artists. Images in the ATHM collection record the varieties of sheep developed by selective breeding, while others reveal the animals in their habitat or revel in the scenes they create.

The Museum is open Wed.-Sun., 10 am – 4 pm, and looks like it also has an interesting gift shop. Anyone want to go with me?

The photo is courtesy of the museum, and its website has more information about this and other exhibits, good directions, and even a $2 off coupon for the adult $10 admission cost, online at www.athm.org.

“Images of Nature and Light”

By | Wool and Sheep | 3 Comments

John Churchman

I admit I am a wool nut, and so of course love sheep, too. Sheep, and the wonderful wool they provide us. I have taken dozens of photos of sheep, but will never come close to the beauty and charm that John Churchman captures in his work. The photo above is of Sweet Pea. What a wonderful little lamby-face! But notice, too, how John has framed the sheep in the hard lines of the window. And somehow, the photo, with her “Easter Bonnet” is not silly, but captures the personality and grace of this animal.

John Churchman is an artist and photographer living on a small organic farm in Essex, Vermont with his wife and daughter, and where he runs his online photo gallery, Brickhouse Studios.

“What inspires me to create imagery is the conditions of light within the image. Each season has it’s own serendipitous beauty and mystery; I strive to bring that into my finished pieces. I believe that first working as a painter and then as a photographer gives me a unique eye for capturing color and light. I have always been inspired more by painters than photographers, especially Franz Marc, Rothko and Turner.”

Here is Sweet Pea and The Knitting Club:
John Churchman

Here is another of John’s photos, this one titled Snow, Wooly and Spirit – 3 Sheep. It is the first photo of John’s I saw, and still one of my favorites:

John Churchman

Online his work can be viewed at www.brickhousestudios.com. And there are photos of geese, dogs, cows, rural life, landscapes and much more that are just as lovely as these photos of sheep. Limited Edition prints are available online. Here is one last photo by John for you to enjoy and contemplate, called Night Visitor.
John Churchman

All of these photos are copyrighted by John Churchman, 2012, 2014, 2015, and so are protected. The photos are used here with John’s kind permission. You can enjoy John’s work regularly, and the antics of Sweet Pea, Atticus, Maisie the border collie and his other farmfriends on his facebook page, John Churchman, or on his website, at the link above. Thanks, John, your photographs are wonderful!

Happiness for rughookers

By | Uncategorized, Wool and Sheep | No Comments

Green Mtn Hooked Rugs

What happens when five rughooking friends spend some time together? We go wool shopping! Happily, we were staying close to Green Mountain Hooked Rugs in Montpelier, VT so it was not long before we headed over there. First up, hugs all around – so nice to see Stephanie Allen Krauss in her wonderful shop.
Green Mtn Hooked Rugs

There is so much to look at, especially the amazing rugs by Stephanie, her daughters, her mother, and others. And then, of course, there is the wool. Bolts, and swatches, and bins and shelves of beautiful wool. A rainbow of happiness for rughookers.
Green Mtn Hooked Rugs

Thanks, Stephanie, for helping us all find just what we were looking for. And happily, everyone can go visit her on the shop’s website at www.greenmountainhookedrugs.com.

Scraps of Wool…

By | Wool and Sheep | No Comments

Library of Congress
Before we move on to other things, here is another great image I came across in the Library of Congress collection, taken in June, 1942.

“Washington, D.C. The District Red Cross is collecting, as part of the war conservation program, scraps of wool from tailors, manufacturers, and individuals. Here a group of volunteer women are sorting them and cutting off the threads to prepare the wool for reprocessing. There is a nationwide drive to eliminate trouser cuffs and other unnecessary parts of garments.”

Goodbye to pleated and full skirts for the duration, as well as wide lapels and trouser cuffs. And new clothes were just not easy to come by, and clothing dollars were spent sparingly. In the Depression, “Make Do and Mend” might have been a necessity, but during the war, it was the mindset of patriotism and doing every single thing you could to support the troops.

In England, clothing was tightly rationed with coupons, while in the US, manufacturers were responsible for the cloth restrictions – only one pocket on a dress, blouses with ruffles or tucking, but not both, waistbands of less than three inches wide, sleeves with no more than two buttons. And with cotton and wool in huge demand for the war effort, synthetics, plastics and polyesters were intensively developed. Leather shoes were rationed, and rubber was not available at all, so cork wedges with raffia woven uppers were a big hit, since they were “off-ration”.

When I saw this photo, I could easily imagine all of us rughookers gathering together, chatting and being industrious – but instead of hooking, we would have been sorting through wool and preparing the scraps, or rolling bandages, or perhaps knitting socks and sweaters for soldiers and sailors.

We still have soldiers and sailors in harm’s way, but we live in times that are peaceful enough to enjoy our craft together without the “All hands on deck” requirements of wartime.

This photo was from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection – it and many other images can be found at the Library of Congress at www.loc/pictures. The collection is searchable, too.

Wonderful Wool

By | Wool and Sheep | One Comment

WW1 wool poster

I came across this poster from 1917, which I thought was great, both as a poster design and a glimpse into the importance of wool during the First World War. It was created by the United States Department of Agriculture encouraging children to raise sheep to provide needed war supplies.

The poster itself is now in the public domain, but is available as a print from the U.S. Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division. Online at www.loc.gov/pictures.