The First Day in the Mill – Lancashire dialect

‘The First Day in the Mill’ is a piece that harks back to my Lancashire roots and the stories I heard as a child. It’s exhibiting in the Quilt Creations category at The Festival of Quilts 2019. It features 61 elongated hexagons – or cloth ‘weaving shuttles’ – each embroidered with a job in the cotton mill. The central panel features a poem by Louisa Bearman, written in Lancashire Dialect, about her First Day in the Mill when she was thirteen.

The First Day in the Mill. Cotton 'Weaving Shuttles'
Cotton ‘Weaving Shuttles’

The cloth is a mixture of modern, preloved and vintage cotton – some from the Arnold’s Attic Collection – and some have been naturally dyed to create a soft mix of textures and tones throughout the piece. The centre of the work features a Lancashire Rose and a vintage weaving shuttle, given to me by my father.

The First Day in the Mill.  Lancashire Rose.
Lancashire Rose.
The First Day in the Mill.
Weaving Shuttle.

This is a very personal piece. It shares some of the thoughts and emotions that my own family experienced in years gone by. My Grandad Nixon was twelve and his mother was ten on their first day in the mill.

The First Day in the Mill. Poetry in Lancashire dialect.
Poetry in Lancashire dialect.

It’s entirely handmade and hand embroidered.

Helmshore Cotton Mill – Video Diary

A trip to Rossendale in Lancashire means many things to me.  It’s a place where I feel at ‘Home’. I catch up with my family and now and again I revisit aspects of the industrial heritage and it’s textiles stories that had sparked my love of textiles, many years ago.  I remember family tales from the Cotton Mills – of clogs sparking on cobbles, the Mee Mawing Language of Weavers and my great-aunt explaining how she used to thread a shuttle.  Helmshore Cotton Mill is one of the last remaining Mills in the Rossendale  Valley where you can truly experience the full glory of original machinery in working order.

Helmshore Cotton Mill is one of the last remaining Mills in the Rossendale Valley
Helmshore Cotton Mill is one of the last remaining Mills in the Rossendale Valley

This video is from a recent visit and shows some beautiful working Carding, Roving  & Spinning machines. It’s noisier than you might think!

A little bonus for you are the fabulous Fulling Machines showing how Military Wool Cloth was made.

If you have memories or family stories from the Mills, I’d love to hear them. Please share them below.
Continue reading “Helmshore Cotton Mill – Video Diary”

Cotton Mills by the Irwell

Even though I’ve been wet-felting for years, it still amazes me what can be created with some wool roving and a bit of soapy water.
At the weekend I had another brilliant day with the Feltmakers, this time with the very talented Valerie Wartelle. Her landscape work is stunning.
I started with a blank piece of pre-felt and started imagining a landscape of my own.
Slowly the picture developed.
A bit of rolling later.
And a bit of fulling and rinsing later.
The felt was drying.
My Cotton Mills by the Irwell.
It needs a good press, a little bit of embroidery and then framing.
I’m chuffed to bits with it.