7.7 Basketry and Scots language

Largely because of its long history and its geographical universality, basket weaving has a hugely rich and diverse association with Scots language. The aforementioned website Woven Communities gives a tremendous insight through its glossary of the importance and complexity of basketry throughout Scotland.

The site details the change in language used as basketry travels across Scotland, particularly up to the Northern Isles where a basket called a kishie in Shetland, or caisie in Orkney, “is used in a similar way that the back creel is used by crofters in the Highlands and Islands off the west coast of Scotland.” (Dawn, 2013).

Woven Communities also has a detailed step-by-step set of instructions [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] by Ewan Balfour, a Shetlander, whose skill in making a kishie features numerous words such as dockans, simmens, hjogs and gloy.

Activity 11

Part 1

In this penultimate activity you will work some more with the Scots vocabulary linked to basketry using the knowledge you have gained studying this section.

Match the words below to the correct definitions.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. dockan

  2. hjog

  3. simmens

  4. gloy

  5. kishie

  6. cassie/caissie

  7. creel

  • a.A deep wicker basket carried on the back by means of a strap passing round the breast or (more rarely) the forehead, used for carrying fish, peats, potatoes

  • b.A basket made of straw, or of woven heather, coarse grass, reeds, “or dried dockstalks”

  • c.A straw basket

  • d.A coarse weed of temperate regions, with inconspicuous greenish or reddish flowers. The leaves are used to relieve nettle stings

  • e.Straw; cleaned, unbroken carefully selected and “bound up in little sheaves four or five inches in diameter”, used for making baskets, straw-ropes, bee-hives, thatching, etc.

  • f.A rope made of heather, grass, rushes, or esp. straw

  • g.The loops of straw of which a basket is made

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = d
  • 2 = g
  • 3 = f
  • 4 = e
  • 5 = c
  • 6 = b
  • 7 = a

Part 2

You can explore the impressive variety of baskets produced in Scotland on the Woven Communities website, which features information about basketmaking communities in Scotland. When exploring the Basket types section, pay attention to the names of baskets, which often are Scots words, such as creel or cassie.

7.6 Basketry or Basket Weaving

7.8 What I have learned