Words and textiles

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The language we use is full of clues to our past and to the heritage of the places we come from. Within the English language connections to textiles feature frequently. Even the word ‘clue’ is derived from the anglo-saxon ‘cliwen’ or ‘clew’ which came to mean ball of yarn. Some of our Fabric of Bradford groups have been exploring our language and heritage through the words that we use. We have discovered that from fairy tales to tales from Bradford mills, fabric and textiles play a big part in our daily communication in ways that we might not notice.

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We have looked at common phrases, sayings, words, figures of speech and stories that come from fabric and thread. Each group has thought of something different. We have also looked at language very specific to the textile processes used around Bradford and West Yorkshire. As some of our participants worked for many years in local mills we are learning about scrooping, rouzing, doffing, crabbing and flyping, and the work done by scavengers, lap-joiners and piecers*. We’ll be drawing together these ‘loose ends’ (*and defining all these words!) as part of our exhibition later this year.

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