Wovember Words: Cats and Wool
For this last WOVEMBER WORDS post of 2014 we celebrate our feline friends.
The strong association of wool with cats is indicated every year in the wondrous photos that you submit to our photo competition. Every wool worker I know with a cat attests to the special affinity that this beast feels for the following items: raw sheepy fleece; perfectly prepared fibres, ready for spinning; heirloom hand knits; balls of yarn; and anything made of WOOL that is precious to the cat owner. Cats love WOOL for its warming, insulating properties, and seemingly cannot wait to nap on/play with it. I was reminded of this association while reading the highly recommended book “Guddicks – Traditional Riddles from Shetland” by Amy Lightfoot and Laurie Goodlad, for several guddicks (riddles) in this wondrous tome use Shetland dialect words for WOOL to allude to marvelous CATS!
“Guddicks – Traditional Riddles from Shetland” is a wonderful book containing many guddicks (riddles) from Shetland. Guddicks were once an important part of the evening’s entertainment on long nights on Shetland crofts; household members would make up riddles for each other to guess. Shetland riddles give insights into all aspects of Shetland life. As in well-crafted Cryptic Crossword puzzles, in Shetland Guddicks, care seems to be taken when playing with associations between the clues given in a riddle and the answer to that riddle. The construction of guddicks is playful, inventive, poetic, rich. In the examples below, WOOL words are used as riddles for which the answer is CATS. I cannot help but wonder if the Shetlanders of the past who invented these beautiful guddicks had naughty wool loving cats which gave them the idea to use wool words to describe their feline friends?
To WOOL WORDS, lovers of WOOL, lovers of CATS and the beauty of embedding wool in the stories and entertainment of cultures everywhere, that’s it for WOVEMBER WORDS until 2015! All the photos used here have been contributed by WOVEMBERISTS and celebrate the links between WOOL and CATS.
The riddles are given with links to word definitions in John J Graham’s Shetland Dictionary.
YOURS IN WOOL! Fx
(a head like a fluffy/heathery ball of wool
a body like a sheepskin bag of wool
a tail like a rolag)
A boady lik a buggy o oo
A head lik a simmond clew,
Four feet an twenty nails
An’ a tail lik a teengs
(a body like a sheepskin bag of wool
a head like a ball of rope,
four feet and twenty nails
and a tail like one side of a set of tongs)
A body like a sock o oo
A head like a waaftie clue
A tail like a rower
(a body like a piece of knitting
a head like a ball of yarn
a tail like a rolag)
(this one isn’t so specifically woolly but it speaks so perfectly of the regal nature of cats that we felt it must be included).
I’m penniless and poor as Job
Such is my tribe by nature
And yet, I wear a kingly robe
Though an independent creature
– Laurie Goodlad and Amy Lightfoot, Guddicks, Traditional Riddles from Shetland, published by The Shetland Times Limited, 2013, and available to buy here.