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Needlework New Brunswick

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Alpaca    Alpacas are prized for their fine fur, first being treasured by the ancient Incan civilization that was located on the high Andean Plateau and mountains of South America. There are two types of alpacas - the Huacaya and the Suri, with adults measuring about 36 inches tall at the shoulder and generally weighing between 100 and 200 pounds. Alpaca wool is one of the world's finest and most luxurious natural fibers. Soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter and stronger than wool, it comes in more colors than any other fiber producing animal (approximately 22 basic colors with many variations and blends). A male alpaca is a macho, while a female is a hembra. A young alpaca is a cria.

Angora goat    An ancient breed originating from the Angora district in Asia Minor and dating back to the time of Moses. Famous for producing the coveted mohair fibre.

Angora rabbit   A breed of rabbit raised for its large, fluffy coat. The hair is either clipped or combed out as the animal molts, with the resulting fibre being prized for its softness.


Balbriggan  a knitted cotton fabric used for underwear etc. (named after its Irish location of origin) (OED)

Banderole   a long narrow flag with a cleft end, flown at a masthead. Also, an ornamental streamer on a knight's lance. (OED)

barege   a silky gauze made from wool or other material (from Baretes in SW France, where it was orig. made (OED)

Bedford cord  a tough woven fabric having prominent ridges, similar to corduroy; named for Bedford, England(OED)

bedizen  to dress excessively in fine clothes and ornaments. The word root being Middle Dutch "disen", meaning "to dress (a distaff) with flax ready for spinning." This in turn is from Middle Low German "dise" meaning "the bunch of flax placed on a distaff."

Beaver hat   a high-demand, fashion item in the 1550-1850s due to the felted beaver fur being flexible for styling into a variety of shapes. The European demand for beaver pelts was a driving force in the settlement of Canada and the US, and lead to the near extinction of the animal. Demand slowed when silk hats became the rage.

Bikini  a two-piece bathing suit named after Bikini, Marshall Islands, in the South Pacific, where a nuclear explosion took place in 1946

Boll  a seed pod, especially on the cotton plant

Bombasine  a twilled dress material of worsted with or without an admixture of silk or cotton, esp. black, formerly used for mourning (OED)

Boucle  a looped or curled yarn, esp. made of wool

Broadcloth   a fine cloth of wool, cotton or silk (OED)

Brocade   a rich fabric with a silky finish woven with a raised pattern, and often with a gold or silver thread. (OED)

Broderie anglaise   open embroidery on white linen or cambric, especially floral patterns (OED)

Byssinosis   a lung disease caused by prolonged inhalation of textile fibre dust (OED)

Byssus  historical term for a fine textile fibre and fibre of flax. (OED)


Calico   a cotton fabric, esp. plain or unbleached. (from Calicut in India)

Cashmere   a fine soft wool, especially from a Kashmir goat.

Catalogne    A traditional French Canadian blanket. Often woven with horizontal bands of colour seperated by narrower strips of white.

Charm Quilt    A pieced quilt created from charm squares, or pieces of fabric given or donated to the maker. A true charm quilt does not repeat a piece of fabric more than once.

Chenile   A tufty velvety cord or yarn, used in trimming furniture, etc.

Cheongsam   A Chinese woman's garment with a high neck and slit skirt.

Chiengora   wool spun from dog hair. Originally spun in North America before the introduction of sheep by the Spaniards. Modern version includes a small amount of sheep wool to add flexibility for ease of use and make it slightly less warm. Dog hair is eight times as warm as sheep's wool.

Clew   A ball of yarn or cord or thread. In Greek mythology, it was the ball of thread Theseus used to find his way out of the labyrinth when he went to do battle with the Minotaur.

Clotheshorse  1. A clothes drying rack  2. A person with a passion for clothing

Corn Husk Rug   A hooked rug made with corn husks for the pile. The hooking technique required the husks be kept steaming hot while working so they are pliable.

Cria   A young alpaca.


Double-knit Mittens    Made with two strands of contrasting coloured yarn, forming a pattern on the surface of the mitten. The result is a mitten with the thickness of two mittens but without the accompanying bulk of wearing two pairs.

duffel   a coarse woolen fabric with a thick nap. Named after the Belgian town Duffel, where it was originally made.


Fox and Geese    A traditional two-colour knitting pattern consisting of a grid of approx. one-inch squares, with the holes filled corner to corner with an X. The horizontal lines are often done in a contrasting colour while the Xs and vertical lines are in the second colour. The base colour is often a neutral tone, like grey or white. The lines are meant to represent fences and the Xs are lines of geese flapping their wings, and attempting to escape the fox, who is seen at the intersection of the boxes.

Frog   to rip out stitches -- a play on the frog's call of "ribbit" where stitchers "rip it" out instead

Fuller's earth   A clay-like rock rich in smectite (a hydrous aluminum silicate mineral), which can absorb oil. Historically used to remove the oil from sheep's wool during the fulling or felting process. "Fulling" was also known by the even older term of "tucking."

Fustian  A kind of coarse twilled cotton or cotton and linen stuff, including corduroy, velveteen, etc.


Giclee   Digitally printing an image or design on fabric.

Godet   A triangular piece of fabric inserted into a dress, glove or other garment to make it flare.

Gregarious  Friendly; meeting up with others of like mind. From Latin gregarius, "belonging to a herd or flock," from grex, greg-, "herd, flock." (OED)


Hembra   A female alpaca

Hetchel    A comb for separating flax fibres when they are processed into linen.


Kanzu   a long white cotton or linen robe worn by East African men.

Karacul sheep   an Asian sheep whose lambs have dark wool.

Kenaf   a fibre-producing plant related to cotton and okra.

Koozie   a fabric or foam sleeve for a beverage container that keeps the drink cool and the user's hand warm 


Linen  A fabric woven from flax. Known for its cooling qualities in clothing and for its becoming softer with use. Word derived from line, the old Germanic term for flax.

Linsey-woolsey  An early fabric popular for household use such as clothing. It is so named for its linen warp and wool weft.


Macho   A male alpaca

Macrame   derived from the Turkish word makrama meaning "bedspread", which evolved from the Arabian word "mikrama". (OED)

Madras   a strong cotton fabric with coloured or white stripes, checks, etc. (Madras in India) (OED)

Marocain  a dress fabric of ribbed crêpe, made of silk or wool or both. (from Morocco) (OED)

Milk casein   fibre made from milk proteins known for its silky feel. Popular in 1930s as a replacement for wool fabric that was needed for the war effort.


Needlecord  A fine-ribbed corduroy fabric.

Needlewoman  A seamstress

Niddy-Noddy    A simple tool of about 18 inches long, with a central rod and two equal-sized heads, used to wind spun wool into a skein. Traditionally made of wood, though recently appearing in plastic and PVC.  

Nippers    Looks like two stuffed tubes of knitting joined together along one side and at both ends. Worn by fishermen over their palms to provide comfort and greater grip when hauling on a narrow line. Have become far less common since the hydraulic trap hauler came into common use.


Ovine    Pertaining to sheep.


Penny Rugs    A form of wool applique dating to the early to mid 19th century. They earned their name from the large pennies of the time reputed to be used as templates. These would be attached to various backgrounds with embroidery, often button stitch. Circles were combined with naturalistic figures such as simple flowers, fruits and animals. The backings used were varied and included woolen fabric and coarsely woven cotton. The finished rugs were often used as table rugs instead of floor coverings.

plarn   Plastic yarn, often made from strips of plastic grocery bags

prunella   a strong silk or worsted fabric used formerly for barristers' gowns and the uppers of women's shoes. Origin mid 17th cent.: perhaps from French prunelle ‘sloe’ (because of its dark colour). (OED)


Rayon    The first man-made fiber, made from wood, tree and cotton cellulose.


Sawtooth Mittens    A traditional knitting pattern featuring rows of diagonal triangles. The base of each triangle is usually three or five stitches wide, decreasing by one stitch on one side to one stitch at the top. Either the left or right side of the triangle remains straight, with the decrease done on one side of the triangle only. Traditionally made in bright red and grey.

Serge  a type of twill fabric with diagonal lines or ridges on both sides, created with a two-up, two-down weave. Worsted serge is used in garments such as military uniforms or the famous RCMP red jackets. The term is also used to note high quality woolen woven material.

Sheepfold  A pen for holding sheep.

Sheepwalk  A tract of land for pasturing sheep.

Sheer  To shave the wool from a sheep, llama or other wooly animal.

Shetland wool  Fine loosely twisted wool from Shetland sheep.

Shift  A loosefitting undergarment, ranging from hip to ankle length.

Shirtwaist  A woman's blouse resembling a shirt.

Spaghetti   Italian word for "strings".

Steek    A vertical column of knitted stitches over and above the pattern portion of a piece. It is added in to the garment to be cut open when the item is being finished. Sometimes used for setting in sleeves. It is similar to a seam allowance in sewing.

Stevengraph    a type of small picture made from brightly coloured woven silk, produced during the late 19th century.  Named after Thomas Stevens (1828–88), English weaver, whose firm made them. (OED)

Stroud   Canadian coarse woollen fabric of a kind used in the manufacture of blankets. Origin late 17th cent.: perhaps from the name of Stroud in Gloucestershire. (OED)


Thrum knitting    See photos  Thrum knitting is popularly believed to have started in Newfoundland, but may well have European roots. "Thrum" means a piece of waste wool - originally a bit of unspun wool gathered from the mill or the spinner's basket. Including these in a row of knitting as a pair of socks or mitts were made helped create a thick pile to the garment, adding to the piece's overall warmth.

Tricoteuse   • noun (pl. pronounced same) one of a number of women who sat and knitted while attending public executions during the French Revolution. origin French, from tricoter ‘to knit’. (OED)


Vicuna -- a South American mammal, Vicugna vicugna, related to the llama, with a fine silky wool.

Voile - a thin semi-transparent dress material of cotton, wool or silk.


Waulking the tweed     Waulking the tweed is a traditional Scottish technique for shrinking and wet-finishing handwoven woolen cloth. Several yards of handwoven cloth are immersed in hot soapy water, squeezed and passed around a circle of 'walkers' around a table, where each member thumps the wet material on the table. The cloth makes a number of transits around the table until the weave has been suitably shrunken and 'fulled', resulting in a heavier, more dense fabric than when it started.  The process is traditionally accompanied by Gaelic waulking songs to maintain the rhythm.

Wether   A male sheep, usually castrated. Related to the term "bellwether", meaning leader, from the practice of putting a bell around the neck of the leader of a flock.

Woolgathering   The frugal practice of collecting stray clumps of wool from the branches and brambles of a sheep pasture for spinning, etc. Today the term usually means to daydream.

Wristers    Cuffs without mittens. Usually five inches or so long. Worn under the sleeve and under the mitten. These were used when mittens were made without the stretchy cuffs. They would be worn to keep lower part of hands warm while the mittens were removed for fine work. Popular on area farms. 


Yarn bombing    Attaching unauthorized yarn markers to public structures

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