Wild and Woolly [ wahyld-n-woo l-ee ]
‘to be carrying a wild look, to have a bearded and dirty look, to be lawless, to be uncultured’
I tend to think that the reason I’m almost never asked about the origin of the shop’s name is because the name is so obviously the right one, that there’s no question that it could possibly have been anything else. In fact the name came quite accidentally long before the shop was even a twinkle in this knitter’s eye.
It was the mid 1980s, a bright cold spring-time Sunday. Our curly hair was loose, and we wore over-sized knitted sweaters, and clapped-out monkey boots, on our way to RAF Lakenheath to join the peace protest against Trident nuclear missiles. My sister and I had set off about 10 minutes after Gareth, with the idea that it would be easier for us to hitch a lift without him, and then we could collect him on the way.
A small car approached us and we stuck out our thumbs and smiled hopefully at the older-looking couple inside, but after slowing down they just drove on. More cars came and went. Minutes past. No one stopped. Then there was Gareth calling us from the other side of the road in that little car with the older couple . We ran across the road and hopped in.
So it turned out that when they picked him up, they told him how they’d thought of stopping to give a couple of girls further back a lift, but that the girls were ‘a bit Wild and Woolly looking’ so thought better of it. Gareth knew exactly who they meant and persuaded them to turn around and to let us all squeeze in, regardless of our wild and woolliness.
The monkey boots and the holey sweaters are of course long since gone (sadly not so for Trident), but the good news is that the name stuck. So thanks to Gareth’s insistence on not leaving us behind, the reluctant kindness of the couple in the car, and the 1980s peace movement, our knitting shop got its name.