Episode 110: Dyed In the Wool

In this episode, we explore important role of the wool and cloth industries in Medieval England. Not only was England a major producer of sheep and wool, it also developed its own cloth industry in the 1300s. This was also a period in which clothing fashions were undergoing some major changes. We examine the ways in which clothing was changing, and we look at the cloth-making process. We also explore lots of words and phrases related to the traditional wool and cloth industries.

12 thoughts on “Episode 110: Dyed In the Wool

  1. I am told that Anglo-Saxon dyes tend to give wishy washy colours but by dyeing the wool over and over again you could get rich colours. These were then fixed with oak bark or oak gall. It appears that to make a good green they dyed with weld to get yellow and then dyed again with a woad/urine mix to turn it green. It appears that this worked better than mixing the dyes. However with all this they still could not get a really good red, blue or black. I gather that the sheep tended to be oatmeal coloured but did they not have any black sheep?

  2. Kevin, I hope you’re over your cold by now. Still look forward to each new podcast. Learning lots about my native tongue and British/European history. God bless!

    Jill in Michigan

  3. The hedge warden being called a Hayward may be related to the fact that the French word for hedge is haie.

    • According to the OED, the word “nappy” as a diaper is a shortened form of the word “napkin.” If so, that would make it distinct from the American sense of the word “nappy” for excessively frizzy hair.

  4. Pingback: McCall’s 7561 Knit Octopus Dress | Pattern and Branch

  5. “Blue” and other terms for it strikes me as one of the more interesting words for a color. If I recall you said you were familiar with the work of Bret Berlin and Paul Kay, right? So under their theory a term for blue comes #5 after black, white, red, green, and yellow. So, let’s look at the word in the major western European languages. In English we know it’s “blue,” Dutch uses “blaw,” while German uses “blau.” Seems like there might be a common root there. The Romance languages get a little more complicated, since the main word for blue in French is “bleu,” Italian uses “blu” and Catalan uses “blau.” However, Spanish and Portuguese both use “azul” and you see variations on that in both French and Italian (i.e. azur like the famous Cote d’Azure or azurri like the nickname for the Italian soccer team who wear blue shirts). That’s actually based on an Arabic word for the blue stone Lapus Lazuli and it makes sense that it would get into those vocabularies as Arabic was once spoken widely in the Iberian peninsula as well as parts of France and Italy.

    So, it makes me wonder then: with all of these foreign influences on the romance languages for the word “blue” did vulgar latin just not have a term for that color or was it systematically displaced by Germanic and Arabic counterparts? Classical Latin seems to use cyaneus or caeruleus and you can see that influence on some other shades of blue (cyan or cerulean) but not in the major daughter languages.

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