This is another basket which has a whole variety of names. They include muirlag, murlag, crealagh, craidhleag or mudag.
Dwelly’s lists ‘craidhleag’ as an egg shaped basket for balls of worsted. And it has the mudag as a wool basket about 3′ in height made of straw. The top part of the mudag called a’ghuite’ being used for holding carded wool, and when spinning the uncarded wool was placed in the bottom part.(1) So maybe we are talking about different designs rather than different names for the same basket.
Dorothy Wright has a photograph of a basket that looks the same as the one we have here. She says that it was collected by Dr Evelyn Baxter from the Isle of Skye where it was named as a crealagh. The dimensions of this one are 50cm length with a diameter of 30cm. The opening is 26.5 x 14 cm (2) She says it was used for wool to be carded and was placed at the feet of the carder or spinner, often beside the fire because the warmth made the wool easier to card. It was the oil in the wool that was realeased by the warmth that made the wool easier to card and Alisdair Davidson told us that many of the old mudags he has seen had one side that was really brittle of that had burnt away due to this practise of placing them near the fire.(3)
Alisdair Davidson has made many replicas of the Mudag over the years, in various shapes and sizes. He descibes making them in two halves, starting with two thicker rods stuck in the ground or a frame, these are tied finer willow woven in a Gods Eye pattern. Alsidair says ‘The gods eye is just a preference, I’ve seen them with out it. You don’t need it………..It just..it makes it easier for the next bit. You don’t have to go so far with your weaving before you can start adding stakes in.’ The two halves woven in this way are then put together and the centre part woven.(4). Alisdair was told that the more round mudags were known as wren’s nests (4). Dawn Susan has worked out a different way of making the Mudags. See Making a Mudag
by Dawn Susan and Julie Gurr
(1) Dwelly’s Scots Gaelic – English Dictionary
(2) Dorothy Wright ‘The Complete Book of Baskets and Basketry’
(3) Transcript of Julie Gurr Interviewing Alisdair Davidson on 28th June 2013
(4) Transcript of Julie Gurr Interviewing Alisdair Davidson on 9th December 2013