I like words, especially interesting ones. My professional life tends to generate lots of wonderful terms, many of which are quite fun to say. Words like cysticercus, proglottid, ribosome, schistosome, merozoite, endoplasmic reticulum, protonephridium, kinetoplast, protostome, metacercarium, and chiasmata. Other words come up in conversation and either sound interesting or are interesting in-and-of themselves. Words like onomatopoeia, filigree, borborygmus, atrabilious, miasma, phlegmatic, corpulent, miscegenation, and sclerotic for example. Those who follow this blog will know that I also like sheep, shetland sheep in particular. How fortunate then that the breed comes complete with taxonomies of both color and of color pattern. The website of the North American Shetland Sheepbreeders Association lists eleven colors of shetland sheep. While some of these will be familiar (white, dark  brown, and black) others will not be (emsket, shaela, musket, mioget, and moorit). In addition to this palette of color the breed association recognizes thirty different patterns of coloration. Here is the complete list … [I have indicated in bold and defined the patterns we see most often in our flock here at the farm.] Bersugget, Bielset, Bioget, Blaeget, Blaget, Blettet, Bleset, Brandet, Bronget, Flecket, Fronet, Gulmoget, Ilget, Iset, Katmoget (having a light-colored body with dark belly and legs), Katmollet, Kraiget, Kranset, Krunet, Marlit, Moget, Mirkface (white with dark patches on the face), Mullit, Sholmet, Skeget, Smirslet (dark-colored with white around the mouth, head, or neck), Sokket, Sponget, Snaelit, and Yuglet. You might, by now, be wondering what this is leading up to? Joanna recently received a book entitled A Legacy of Shetland Lace. It is a production of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Knitters, Weavers and Dyers and its intent is to preserve and further Shetland’s traditional textile heritage. Beyond instructions for a number of beautiful scarves, shawls, and stoles the volume has a section titled Shetland words associated with knitting. Among these is a real beauty which is the title of this post, Hentilaggits … loose tufts of wool which may be left on heather as sheep walk past or scratch themselves. These used to be collected for spinning. The photograph on the right may not be the most attractive which may be found on this blog but I thought it particularly illustrative. With the pastures now clear of snow I was able to gather this ball of Hentilaggits yesterday. Joanna will not use these for spinning … she prefers the cleaner, more complete, fleece which will be harvested after lambing and before the month of May is out. [UPDATE, 3/8/13. Anna commented on this post and contributed another great word which is to be included in the growing lexicon which comprises terms associated with spinning, weaving, knitting, and other fiber artistry. Try Qiviut! Like Hentilaggits, Qiviut describes small bits of  shed wool … but in this case the word is an Inuit one describing the shed wool of the Musk Ox! In Anna’s own words Because really, no one wants to flip over and shear a Musk Ox! Thanks Anna for the word and the words!]

20 thoughts on “Hentilaggits

  1. Fantastic! I found myself trying to say some of these words (many of which were new to me) out loud! Great fun! Fortunately, no one was here to listen to me butcher the pronunciation (stress placement) of some of the patterns of coloration. 😀

        • Wow – that’s great. My daughter just married a fellow from Switzerland and Joanna is now reading ‘Heidi’ in french trying to quickly get up to speed. I, on the other hand, know nothing of that language – wish I did. Which is your speciality?

          • French! (16h-century French to be specific 🙂 ) Hooray! That’s wonderful that Joanna is reading Heidi in French. That was one of my most cherished childhood favorites. I read it over and over! I look forward to reading that book to my little one. I also studied a number of other languages, including Italian and Japanese. (I still study Japanese to this day.) Do your daughter and son-in-law live now live in Switzerland or in the States?

            • Right now they are in Wisconsin, but not for long. They’re busy making arrangements to move to Switzerland within the year. The time we were over there for the wedding was our first visit … I posted about it back in August. Beautiful place – seems now like I’ll have plenty more opportunities to take it in. Sixteen century French … impressive! By the way … liked the stuffed animal image … Joanna has an Otter (similarly-stuff animal) that she adores. D

  2. I don’t remember discarded wool having such a romantic name when I was forced to clean off the fence lines with the blow torch 🙂 . I think that the right phrasing/framing could have made the job much more exciting!

  3. I will have to be better about liking things more explicitly. Your prose meanderings are usually my favorite. This hentilaggits is incidentally how the Inuit used to collect quiviet (because really, no one wants to flip over and shear a Musk Ox!), I wonder if they have an equally whimsical and wispy word for a piece of cloud stuck on an idle branch? I shall have to look into it …

    • Ha! That’s really weird … if you were to ask Joanna about her favorites or about those that she loves to roll off the tongue ‘Fritillary’ would be one of them. I kid you not – she has mentioned this before. I guess it’s true what they say … great minds think alike! Thanks for stopping by. Liked the Memphis image by the way. It worked well in black and white. Thanks again for taking the time. D

  4. What an interesting and informative post, and such a handsome ewe. Isn’t nature wonderful to produce such a truly amazing resource. It is impressive and your flock is very special.

    • Thanks for responding. Few people did. I’m beginning to think that the WordPress community, in general, would prefer pretty pictures rather than insightful prose. D

  5. I love this post! In fact, I have an article on the working lives of Shetland knitters that Joana might enjoy. It is called “Knitting, Autonomy, and Identity: The Role of Hand Knitting in the Construction of Women’s Sense of Self in an Island Community, Shetland, c. 1850-2000,” by. L. Abrams. But maybe I’ve sent it to you earlier? One of the values of a PhD program is the ability to say, on any given topic, “I have an article about that!”

    • Yes indeed … Dr. Marsh. The introduction to the book I mention in the post says a bit about Shetland knitters and the relationship between them, their art, and their identify … as individuals, as women, and as Shetland Islanders. Your piece sounds interesting – do you have an electronic version? Perhaps you could scan it and send it along? Thanks for stopping in and taking the time to reflect and to comment. Made my day (really)! D

    • Yeah … in the old days. If you’ve got plenty of sheep and plenty of fleeces to work with these little bits would be more work than it’s worth. Not many folks rose to the occasion presented by this post … you can see that only a single person ‘liked’ it. Seems like WordPress people would rather look at pretty pictures than read. I need to get out an take a fresh bunch of pictures.

      • Don’t worry so much! You can’t hit a homerun EVERY time!! Your record is pretty darn good so far! 🙂
        I especially like your animal portraits!! 🙂

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