Textiles Is In The Blood

Textiles Is In The Blood

I am Dawn, Fabworks Online product specialist & description writer. This is my own story & sentiment for the inspiration behind our recent Heart of Huddersfield project

People often ask where I get my inspiration from when writing Fabworks’ fabric descriptions. I always say that I am inspired by many things especially nature, particularly the landscape and flora and fauna within. I am a proud Yorkshire woman and I was blessed with parents and grandparents that were also born and bred Yorkshire, who instilled in me an appreciation for Yorkshire’s countryside as well as its people, plants and animals.

Grandparents on my father’s side were both involved in the Heavy Woollen trade around West Yorkshire, my Grandad Ewart’s profession for most of his adult life was as a boiler engineer for the huge steam engines that powered the woollen mills around West Yorkshire, thus consequently provided a good standard of living for his wife and three sons.

Grandma Lillian along with her mother and two sisters also had a job within the woollen trade and had spent significant time as weavers. In an age where they had already lived through hard times, poverty and war, they were equipped with the skills to make, mend and make do. Lillian was an amazing seamstress; dressmaking, tailoring, knitting, crochet, embroidery and all the other homemaking skills that housewives of this generation were expected to have honed.

Ewart would often bring home fents (short pieces of woollen fabric) for Lillian to make clothing and homewares with. So it’s no great surprise that I learnt to sew at a very early age thanks to her. She sat me in her lap at the old Singer Treddle sewing machine (which now takes pride of place in my home) and encouraged me to wind the wheel and play with pieces of fabric she called dolly patches - that would eventually become clothing for my toy dolls!

Three sisters - all weavers Great Grandma, Grandma & friends - all textile workers

 

When I wasn’t engrossed with a textiles project my grandparents would encourage my siblings and I to play in the garden - vegetables patches, fruit trees and flowers galore. We grew up with a passion for all the wonderful things nature provides.

The Heart of Huddersfield project is something that I have been heavily involved in from the beginning; designing, planning, testing, but most influential with the description writing, these are ‘mine’. The HoH fabrics were designed to take inspiration from the Holme & Colne Valleys (the location where they were woven), notably the landscape and the nature within it; such as the woodland, moors, pastures, hills and streams, as well as the weavers’ own homes and gardens (of my grandparent’s generation). Each fabric description takes you on a literary journey to the places that occupy my mind, in the hope of conjuring up the essence of our proud Yorkshire heritage.

My practical skills as a seamstress and my passion for all things textiles-related gives constant inspiration for what to make with such wonderful wools. I can always find a use for fabric! My thrifty grandma taught me the value of using things wisely and not wasting, half of the fun is imagining what you can make from a random shaped off-cut.

The Heart of Huddersfield range is both special to me and the family business of Fabworks, because we all have strong links to the Holme Valley and the woollen trade.

My paternal great grandparents lived at a farm in a little village called Netherthong, a picturesque place just above Holmfirth (home of television classic Last of the Summer Wine). Great Grandad William was advised to take on the farm mainly for the health benefits after the grime and dust of the woollen trade had given him severe bronchitis. His son Ewart then following in his footsteps, going back to those dark satanic mills to forge his career as a boiler engineer. You see we were all drawn by these textile roots back into the trades that shaped our lives originally.

When I first started working at Fabworks all the strands of my ancestry seemed to join up, it felt like I had finally found my vocation after working in different areas of textiles. My childhood, influences and heritage are steeped in West Yorkshire's woollen trade. I've tried to bring to life these memories and emotions when designing the gorgeous Heart of Huddersfield range of wools and writing the fabric's descriptions, evoking heritage, tradition, family values and putting a good old Yorkshire stamp on things. Textiles is in the blood!

Sands Farm, Netherthong Great Grandparents William (father of Ewart)

 

 
Me on my christening day, another generation of textiles fanatics
Dawn R-S

Comments

Dawn R-S

Dawn what a wonderful read!! Thanks for sharing such a personal story, I love those photos too, especially the one of your great grandparents with your great grandmother’s apron blowing in the wind. Your story really completes the HOH project, your fabric descriptions are pure poetry. Xx

Dawn R-S

Hi,
I just want to say how much I enjoy the wonderful fabrics from HoH that I have received. It really shows how much you care about this project and how much effort and emotion you have put into it. It’s fantastic that it’s still possible to pull off such a marvelous range of fabrics entirely made in England and at an affordable price! I will be back for more later if there is any left!
Cecilia

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