Glasgow Daily Photo

A photo a day from Scotland’s biggest city.

Celtic Connections (5) – Come and try – waulking

Posted by Jackie on January 30, 2008

There were some good guesses yesterday – yes singing was definitely involved! What we learnt was a technique called waulking, which is a traditional part of the production process when making Harris tweed (a type of cloth from Harris in the Outer Hebrides islands). There is a good description of what waulking is here .

Basically it involves singing rhythmic Gaelic songs (the language was Gaelic, for those who weren’t sure) and pushing the material forward and along the table in order to shrink it and get the dye to set. If you read the link you will see they used to use a particular type of, er, natural chemical in this process – you’ll be glad to know we only used water!

I like this photo as although it isn’t clear and sharp it gives a good idea of the movement involved. Once you get into a rhythm it goes really fast and furious! The end of the session was also filmed by Gaelic Children’s TV, so I guess that’s another few seconds added to my 15 minutes of fame tally 🙂

3 Responses to “Celtic Connections (5) – Come and try – waulking”

  1. Click said

    The movement is precisely what I like about this photo. It’s obvious that action is happening and the viewer naturally wants to know more. Nice explanation. How is “waulking” pronounced? Is it spoken as “walking”?

    Chuck Pefley

  2. Jackie said

    Chuck, I’m not a Scot so I’m sure my pronunciation is a bit off, but it seems to be somewhere between “walking” and “woll-king” (but with the ‘l’ not particularly prominent).

  3. Troy said

    This is a great photo. I love the interaction among the women.
    I wanted to thank you for your comment this week on Munich Daily Photo.
    This is a new project for me, and a great way to learn about the city, it’s culture, and its people.
    I hope your sister finds it useful or helps me learn more about the city. I’m always open to suggestons.
    All the best.

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