Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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YAIRN, n., v. Also yaren, yearn (Kcb. 1703 Trans. Dmf. & Gall. Antiq. Soc. (1909) 14, Sc. 1729 R. Wodrow Analecta (M.C.) IV. 26; Kcb. 1901 R. Trotter Gall. Gossip 129), yearin (Ags. 1718 Dundee Charters, etc. (1880) 168); yeren-; as v., yirn. Sc. forms and usages of Eng. yarn (Abd. 1716 Sc. N. & Q. (Ser. 1) II. 89; Slg. 1717 Trans. Slg. Arch. Soc. (1926) 44; Kcb. 1895 Crockett Bog Myrtle ix.; Per., Fif., Lth., Ayr. 1915–26 Wilson; Bwk. 1942 Wettstein, Rxb. 1942 Zai; Ork., Cai., m., s.Sc. 1974). See P.L.D. § 48.1.(2). [jern]

I. n. 1. As in Eng., now rare in colloq. use: wool in its finished state to be used for knitting or weaving. Lth. 1882  J. Strathesk Blinkbonny 185:
She bought “Alloa yarn” and knitted cosy under-garments.
Dmf. 1925  Trans. Dmf. and Gall. Antiq. Soc. 22:
A c'ue o' yairn, a ball of wool.

2. Combs.: (1) yarens, yarlin(s), see (8); (2) yarn-clew, a ball of knitting wool (Sh. 1974); (3) yarnel(l), yarnets, see (8); (4) yarn fair, a fair for the sale of home-spun yarn and also cloth made from it; (5) yarn-hose, see quot.; (6) yarn-nag, a ball of wool. Cf. Nag, n.3; †(7) yearn-searcher, an official who examines (linen) yarn for its quality; (8) yarnwin(d)(s), yeren-, yerna-, an instrument for winding yarn into skeins of specified lengths, a yarn-reel (Cai.8 1934, yerna-; Sh., Cai. 1974). Obs. in Eng. exc. dial. Also in reduced forms yarens, yerrins (Rs. 1921 T.S.D.C.), yarnits. Comb. yarn-blade, one of the spokes of the reel. Phr. to put a nicht on 'e yarnwins, lit. to pass the evening in winding yarn, hence fig. to spend a dull evening (Cai. 1905 E.D.D., Cai. 1974); (9) yarn win(d)le(s), -winnels, id., with reduced forms yarnel(l), and met. form yarlins (Bnff. 1847 A. Cumming Tales 38; Abd. 1921 T.S.D.C.), the pl. form being freq. construed as a sing. Comb. yarn-winnle-blade, a spoke of the yarn-reel. See Windle, n.1 (2) Sc. 1820  Scott Monastery xxxiii.:
Like to the yarn-clew of the drowsy knitter.
(4) Lnk. 1880  W. Grossart Shotts 6–7:
Those yarn fairs are now relics of the past. . . . The Shotts yarn fair or market.
(5) Sc. 1814  J. Sinclair Agric. Scot. III. 296:
Stockings are frequently made of only two, and even of one thread. The latter are denominated “yarn-hose.”
(6) Sc. 1829  R. Chambers Sc. Songs. II. 372:
I lookit to my yarn-nag, And it grew never mair.
(7) Sc. 1765  Atholl MSS.:
Robertson is appointed Yearn Searcher.
(8) Ork. 1726  P. Ork. A.S. VI. 30:
One rell Yerenwinds and Sweroks.
Sc. 1842  Whistle-Binkie 92:
The aefauld yarn was ta'en awa', To the yarnits niest, to lay an twist.
Sh. 1900  Shetland News (24 March):
Shü cam' butt wi' da yarnwinds.
Cai. 1916  John o' Groat Jnl. (14 April):
Yer going like a yarnwins — applied to a fussy person who rushed about from house to house.
(9) Abd. 1752  Monymusk Papers (S.H.S.) 16:
1 pair of yarlin bleds, . . . 3s 6d.
Sc. 1822  Scott Pirate v.:
God's sake speak her fair and canny, or we will have a ravelled hasp on the yarn-windles.
Bwk. 1823  A. Hewit Poems 101:
Forby an ark for hauden meal, A yarnwinnels an' a reel.
Sc. 1870  R. Chambers Pop. Rhymes 390:
Prior to the use of the yarn winnle blades, women counted the thread produced on their spinning-wheels by winding it between their left hand and elbow.
Abd. 1915  H. Beaton Benachie 19:
After being twined, it was taken to the “yarnell.”

II. v. To become coiled, ravelled or entangled, of string, thread, etc. Sc. 1905  E.D.D.:
He went to wind worsted, but it yirned and hindered him. He threw his line across the stream, but it caught a branch and got yirned (or yirned round it).

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"Yairn n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 19 Jan 2018 <http://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/yairn>

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