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!]

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