Click here for opening page    Welcome to WWW.MONIKIE.SCOT, from Scotland
Local InterestFamily History Items, FOR ALL!Newbigging Photos & 'Video'1000's of names of family history interest.Locally owned businessesLocal stories of days gone by, from W.D.C.Local Church Pages'Two-in-One' Church MagazineExtracts of historical interest from old books.Stirling AND Skirling surname interest & databaseContact the WebmasterMonikie War Memorial community hallThe Monikie Story - 'READ ALL ABOUT IT' - a book available from this website.A list of the pages on this site - pick some at random!Search THIS website, but read the advice first for best results.

A Look at Flax Weaving and its Technical Terms.

This article appeared in the 'Craigie Column' of Dundee Courier newspaper on 19th May 2005.  The Webmaster is grateful to the author, Mr. Innes Duffus of Dundee, Scotland, for permission to reproduce his piece.

Since we published the piece from Mr. Innes Duffus, archivist to the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee, about heckling, several people have asked him about the other terms he mentioned in the weaving of flax. He has kindly supplied the following explanation.

"Flax was harvested by pulling the plant complete with roots, from the ground. It was not cut and harvested like cereal crops. It was then allowed to dry in the field then taken in bundles for 'rippling'. Rippling was the removal of the seed. Two men at either end of a long board, in the middle of which was fixed a 'rippling caemb', did this. The comb looked like a big hairbrush with wooden, or later iron, teeth. It was hard. monotonous work, one man on each side striking alternately. The flax would then be tied into bundles and taken for steeping (soaking) in pools of stagnant water (lint pots) or backwaters in the burn. The purpose of this 'retting' was to let the outer woody part of the flax separate from the inner fibres. This process lasted at least a week. There were regular arguments with the landowners who believed, wrongly, that the flax would poison the water and ruin the fishing.

Highly skilled
Continues Mr. Duffus: "Then came 'scutching'. The flax was taken out of the lint pots, dried in the fields and crushed in a flax-brake or beaten over a baulk of wood with wooden mallets until the flax stems were completely broken and the bark removed. Later this was done by mill-scutching, and there were many of these water-powered mills. After scutching came 'heckling', a form of combing which drew the fibres out for spinning. Heckles differed to suit the flax. Some were wider and longer than others and it was a skilled occupation, as even flax from different parts of the same field required different heckles. The men worked in heckling sheds, the work was highly skilled and hecklers were well paid. This is how the term heckling came to be used at political meetings, as I described last week. Next came the well-known spinning and weaving. By law a spindle held 'no fewer than 5,760 threads or 14,400 yards of single yarn'. Yarn was sold by the spindle or 'hank' (a hank being one quarter of a spindle). Finally. after weaving came 'bleaching'. This was the steeping of the cloth in a hot alkaline solution (the 'ley'). washing it out, drying the cloth and then applying an acid (the 'sour'). This was repeated until the cloth was as white as required. Bleach fields in and around Dundee and district are well known even today."

 

LOCAL INTEREST FAMILY HISTORY INTEREST NEWBIGGING INTEREST ARLENE'S LISTS LOCAL BUSINESS 'DOWN THE AGES'
CHURCH PAGES CHURCH MAGAZINE OLD BOOK EXTRACTS STIRLING SURNAME MONIKIE MEMORIAL HALL 'THE MONIKIE STORY'
WEB PAGES LIST SEARCH THIS WEBSITE HOMEPAGE CONTACT & EMAIL

Please press the BACK BUTTON for your previous page.

The design and content of this page and website is the copyright of the webmaster (unless otherwise stated, freely surrendered, or in the public domain) and, where appropriate, may not be reproduced in any form without the permission of the webmaster.
This page was updated - 09 December, 2014