By Davalynn Spencer
It’s rare that you’ll see an image of an Old West cowboy without a neckerchief, scarf, or wild rag around his neck in some fashion. It might be hanging loose and low the way Kevin Costner wore his dirty-gray neckerchief in the 2003 film, “Open Range,” or pulled up closer to the throat, maybe over the mouth and nose if the man is riding drag on a herd of cattle or holding up a stagecoach.
|Snake hunter with a loose bandana. Definitely not Kevin Costner. Pixabay|
|Horsewoman with a jacquard-weave silk scarf tied in a buckaroo knot. Pixabay|
The term wild rag differs from a standard neckerchief and refers to a larger square of cloth, anywhere from 35 to 50 inches. Silk is the preferred fabric due to its versatility. It warms a rider’s neck in winter and keeps it cool from sunburn in the summer.
Jacquard (pronounced: juh-kaard) scarves offer a unique tone-on-tone pattern that lends silk a more sophisticated look. The weave raises warp threads independently of the others, and incorporates a pattern into the fabric itself, eliminating the need for the pattern to be dyed or printed, though some scarves carry both impressions – the weave and a dyed print.
|Note the floral pattern woven into the scarf, creating a jacquard gray-on-gray effect.|
A pattern in black is also printed on the scarf. Author's photo.
In 1804, Napoleon observed Jacquard’s programmable loom in Lyon, France, and granted a patent to Lyon and a pension and royalty to Jacquard.
The Jacquard weave is said to make the silk more pliable, but it definitely makes it more sophisticated, and subtle sophistication is a cowboy’s hallmark, from the jinglebobs on his spurs to the shape of his hat.
But maybe most important of all, a good jacquard-silk wild rag is sure to catch the eye of a pretty little gal at the rodeo.
Abigale wiped her fingers on the towel and picked up the scarf, letting it spill like a green waterfall on the table. It was big enough for Seth to wrap around his throat twice, as ranchers did.
“He asked me to marry him last night. Well—in a way. He didn’t really ask. It was closer to telling.”
“And you didn’t take that well, did you.” Ida chuckled and sipped her coffee. “Nor should you. Never let him ride roughshod over you, but neither forget that he loves you. It will make all the difference in your partnership. If you choose to marry him, that is.”
“Mams would have said to have faith.”
“And she’d be right,” Ida said. “Faith is something we carry with us. Trust, on the other hand, is something we do. The two work together, like the light and darker weave in that jacquard-patterned scarf.”
Ida gave Abigale’s hand a gentle squeeze. “I won’t tell you to follow your heart. But I will tell you that God gives us faith so we can trust Him. He’ll let you know. All you have to do is ask.” ~from A High-Country Christmas: Romance Collection