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Linsey-woolsey

Victorian linsey-woolsey petticoat. Victorian linsey-woolsey petticoat.

Linsey-woolsey (also called woolsey-linsey) originally referred to a textile made with a flax warp and a wool (worsted) weft. Later it came to mean a material of coarse, inferior wool (weft), woven with a cotton warp. It generally came in plain blue or white, or with blue and white stripes. The name linsey is associated with the Suffolk (UK) town of Linsey, where this type of cloth was woven.

The English poet, John Skelton (c. 1463 –1529), refers to linsey-woolsey ('lylse wulse') in his poem, Why Come Ye Nat to Courte?, which was written in c. 1523:

To weue all in one lome
A webbe of lylse wulse (lines 127- 128)

This type of cloth was used in many British colonies from the seventeenth century onwards, especially for clothing and light blankets. Scraps of linsey-woolsey were often used for quilts.

Sources:

  • CAULFEILD, Sophia Frances Anne and Blanche C. SAWARD (1882). The Dictionary of Needlework, London: Upcott Gill, p. 327.
  • Shorter Oxford English Dictionary: 'Linsey-woolsey'.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 7th July 2016).

GVE

Last modified on Thursday, 11 May 2017 18:14