Words and textiles


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.


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.

One thought on “Words and textiles

  1. What a brilliant project! This ticks many of my personal boxes and I would love to have been part of it if I lived nearer. I’m from West Yorkshire (although no longer living up north); a keen amateur genealogist with a large proprtion of my ancestors having worked in the wool and linen industries (also a silk weaver, but he was in Norfolk); and I’m interested in words and their origins. I don’t know if I would be able to make your exhibition, but I’d love to know when and where it will be.

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