Carding, teasing and charming

At school I was taught that ‘carding’ wool is when you take the raw wool and tease it to straighten all the fibres in it. It’s carding that makes the wool suitable for spinning. I grew up in Lancashire where sheep and wool sustained many families for generations in small family businesses.

Carding comes from the Latin carduus which means thistle or teasel because people would use dried teasel heads to ‘card’ the fibres straight. I think of poor people picking teasels and carding wool every time I see a teasel:

Teasel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They invented fabulous machinery to do it eventually.

These teasel seed heads look wonderful in the sunshine at RSPB Old Moor.

Teasel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

The Goldfinch is a bird named after carduus, the thistle or teasel. Its scientific name is Carduelis carduelis. I can see one in the bushes. I just need it to fly onto the teasel and I’ve got the complete shot; a Carduelis on the carduus. There’s only one Goldfinch which is unusual because they normally flock together. The collective noun for Goldfinches is a charm; this one’s not very charming.

Goldfinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s just teasing me.

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