Memories of Cloth

We looked at some of the exhibitors from ‘Cloth and Memory 2′ focusing on their memories with cloth, which was the inspiration for their work for the exhibition at Salts Mill, Bradford.

At the exhibition, visitors were  encouraged to leave a piece of paper with their own memories of cloth which have been photographed and put on the exhibition’s website. –                                           I really liked this idea because it involved the audience with the concept of the artists work.

One of our tasks this week was to write our own memory of cloth, and also collect the memories of other people.

‘I never used to want to knit. My mum would be sat making a blanket, jumper or socks and would ask me if i wanted to see what she was doing up close. I would always decline. I enjoyed just sitting and watching, and trying to figure out how it was done on my own. My sister, on the other hand would always dive in and do, but never took it any further.                        I was about 14 when i succumbed. Surprisingly, we did not argue much when my mum was teaching me. She was very calm when i got annoyed, or i was doing it wrong. Thankfully, i managed to master it and am an avid knitter to this day.’   

 – Ellie Smith

These are the four other memories that i have collected:

‘When i was expecting my second child, i decided to crochet a blanket for her. The design was influenced by two contributing factors:

  1. I loathe the convention for pastel baby clothes with a passion.
  2. I was completely broke and so had to use up some of my not inconsiderable stash of leftover yarn from my knitting.

The result was a rainbow coloured blanket with a scarlot shell edging that i still love and am happy to show off at every opportunity eighteen years later!’

– Gail Smith

‘The Daisy (Marguerites) – Beautiful white guipure lace, fabulous sizes, shapes and textures. 45 years ago making my cousins wedding dress and veil – whole daisies – clusters of petals – ones and twos cut up and stitched on to beautiful plain fabric (dress), “see through fabric” (veil) all white. Later, with left over off cuts of lace stitched onto plain navy fabric for a dress for my daughter – another gorgeous garment. Still got some pieces…’

– Margaret Grimshaw

‘My textile memories stem from washing days at my grandmothers. On these days she would do all the normal clothes washing and once every month she would strip the beds and wash all the sheets.
On these days the weather was usually nice and sunny and my grandmother would be especially pleased if it was windy.
My grandfather would set up the clothes lines. They were not left out all the time.
Once the sheets had been washed and hung out all afternoon to dry, we had to take them off the line and fold them nice and straight before taking them off to the airing cupboard.
The folding process always involved hanging on tightly and pulling hard to get the sheets straight when you pulled from opposite corners. On no account must you lose your grip and let them fall onto the floor!
I only ever dropped the sheet once, suffice to say I was suitably told off and the sheet had to be rewashed.
I never did it again!’

– Ian Smith

‘I was 11 when i first went abroad with my family. We went to LarRochelle in France. Whilst we were there, i made a patchwork skirt with my mum. We hand stitched it throughout the ten days we were away and made it out of scraps of fabric from previous projects. I had it and wore it for many years. The good thing about it was that it was pretend patchwork. (nowhere near as precise and regimented as real patchwork) so whenever a piece wore out, as some pieces were not as strong as others, i could just replace that piece with another piece of fabric. It was almost the same idea as a tapestry, in a way. The ‘story’ of it kept on going, every time i added a piece.’

– Abigail Smith



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