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Find out more about the words used in the Witney blanket industry and the woollen industry in general. There are over 340 words to look up.


In wool sorting this means skirtings or edging when trimming a fleece. Brian Crawford
See also: fleece (1)

abrasion test
A test used to simulate and measure the wear performance of textile fabric. Regularly used by Early's on a Fiberwoven floor covering called Warlord. Brian Crawford
See also: Fiberweaving; Warlord

Generic name for a fibre. Early's used large quantities of a Courtauld's brand known as 'Courtelle'. Brian Crawford
See also: Courtelle

A moveable batching unit, in which a horizontal roller about 20 inches in diameter is supported by two A-shaped frames. Early's used them to handle Fiberwoven fabric in wet and dry states. The rolls are 500 yards long by 4 feet in diameter. Brian Crawford

A system of industrial regulation applied to new cloth, under which both a tax and quality control was administered. A lead seal was attached to each cloth to indicate it had been examined, passed as satisfactory and that the tax had been paid. Almost every type of textile was required to be sealed in this way. Regulations for governing cloth quality were in force from circa 1197. Early on in the development of the alnage system, the number of cloths being produced required more than one man to carry out a proper examination. The alnage system began sometime before 1348 and lasted (with modifications) until 1724, but the use of seals to mark newly-manufactured textiles was only formally revoked in 1889.
See also: alnager; cloth seal
Reference: Endrei and Egan 1982:pp47-75

The person who examined textiles under the system of alnage. The marking of cloths by the alnager is mentioned in records as early as 1348, although it was operational before this.
See also: alnage
Reference: Endrei and Egan 1982:pp47-75

Mineral used for centuries as a mordant (or fixative) in dyeing. An important source was alum bay on the Isle of Wight.
See also: dyeing

Before World War II there was a chance of infection from handling wool coming from South America, Asia Minor and East Indies. Warning posters were issued and pinned up in the mills. Legislation ensured that wools from infected areas being imported though Liverpool were treated with formaldehyde and a levy was charged for this process. Brian Crawford

Rubber coated canvas used to carry the layers of corded web into Fiberweavers. Brian Crawford

A protein fibre produced by ICI from peanuts (groundnuts), used to blend with wool at Early's. It had a tendency to snag and has a low wet strength; it is pale brown in colour. Brian Crawford

Artos washer
A washing unit, used on the Fiberweaving production line to wash loose dye out of the fabric before it is fixed in a dryer. It consisted of a large chamber in which the cloth was moved up and down over rollers and through water baths. Phil Platt
See also: Fiberweaving; dyeing

automatic loom
A power loom that changed the bobbins automatically when they emptied. Also known as a Northrop loom, after its inventor. The full bobbins were held in a weft battery, and a feeler device detected when the bobbin in a shuttle was empty. The automatic loom enabled a weaver to manage more than one loom simultaneously. The Sulzer loom was also a fully automatic form of loom, although working on a completely different principle. Brian Crawford
See also: weft battery; feeler motion; Sulzer loom

Tacking or sewing together of the two selvages of a fabric to form a tube to encourage ballooning and thereby prevent creasing during wet finishing of delicate fabrics. Seldom used by Early's. Brian Crawford
See also: selvage; balloon

ball warps
In the 19th century Early bought in cotton warps in the form of ball warps. Brian Crawford
See also: warp

The appearance of the curved path of the running yarn during ring spinning, doubling, winding-on or while it is being withdrawn over-end from packages under appropriate conditions. Brian Crawford

bar (1)
Two or more picks of weft to form a coloured border or lace. Brian Crawford
See also: pick; weft

bar (2)
A weft fault in a woven stockful due to use of the wrong bobbin. Brian Crawford
See also: bobbin; weft; stockful

bastard mule
The spinning mule was first hand operated for all movements, delivery, drafting, twisting, backing off and winding on. These motions were slowly mechanised until the full self-acting mule was produced. Sometimes they were called 'horses'. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule; self-actor

The part of an automatic bobbin changing loom that holds the full bobbins or pirns awaiting insertion in the shuttle. Brian Crawford
See also: automatic loom; bobbin; pirn; shuttle

In a loom, that part of a reed providing its lateral margin that holds its wires or dents securely and at the desired set. Brian Crawford
See also: reed; dent

A cylindrical beam approximately 6 inches in diameter on which the warp is wound for use in the loom. Brian Crawford
See also: warp

beam flange
Plate fitted to each end of the beam to control the edges of the wound warp. Brian Crawford
See also: beam; warp

The process of winding the warp onto the beam. Brian Crawford
See also: beam; warp

beating up
Beating up the weft. The third process in weaving, the others being shedding and picking. It consists of beating up, forcing the pick of the weft yarn left in the warp shed up to the fell of the cloth. Brian Crawford
See also: warp shed; shedding; picking

Used for transmitting power from line shafts to machines. Usually leather belting varied in width, at Early's depending on the machinery being driven and the horsepower being transmitted. Usually they were between 2 and 12 inches wide. Brian Crawford
See also: line shaft

bifurcated rivet
A split rivet used to join end of drive belting. Brian Crawford
See also: belting

Refers to putting on the edge and end ribbon. Brian Crawford

binding (1)
To apply ribbon to the ends and sides of a blanket. Brian Crawford

binding (2)
The name given to the ribbon used in the binding process. Before the Second World War bindings were a narrow woven cellulose acetate fabric. After the War nylon fabric was used. Brian Crawford

A thick fabric with good thermal insulating properties. It may be produced by a woven or knitted process or as a felt (Fiberwoven). The woven structure can be a plain, twill or lorn. See also point blankets. Brian Crawford
See also: Fiberweaving

Originally, a particular type of broadcloth usually made from coarse, fell wool.
See also: broadcloth; fell wool

Hydrogen peroxide was trialled by Richard Early as a bleaching agent in 1934 but this was unsuccessful and it was finally introduced in the 1950s. Before the Second World War few blankets were bleached. In the 19th and 20th centuries until 1950 the whiteness of blankets was improved by hanging them in the fumes of burning sulphur. After 1950 hydrogen peroxide was used. Brian Crawford

The process of mixing different wools or fibres. Blending mixes fibres of different physical qualities, market value and colour. It also ensures the consistency of end product. Brian Crawford

The Early's name for a steam heated tenter or stenter. Brian Crawford
See also: stenter

A cylindrical spool or spindle for holding yarn. Usually known as a 'fosset' by people working in the Witney blanket industry.
See also: fosset; pirn

bobbin winder
An implement used to hand-wind bobbins, also a quill winder.
See also: quill winder; bobbin

bonded-fibre fabric
At Early's this referred to improving the wear resistance of their Fiberwoven textile for floor covering (Warlord) by impregnating and then curing the fabric with an acrylic resin. Brian Crawford
See also: Warlord; Fiberweaving

bonding (1)
A tubular cotton or nylon yarn used by Early's to stitch the ends of stockfuls together to form an endless loop during scouring and winch dying. Brian Crawford
See also: stockful; scourer; winch dyeing

bonding (2)
The driving band between the tin roller and spindle on a spinning mule. Brian Crawford
See also: tin roller; spindle (2); spinning mule

bowl (1)
One of a pair of large rollers forming a nip. Brian Crawford
See also: nip

bowl (2)
An open vessel for such wet treatments as wool scouring. Brian Crawford
See also: scourer

box meter
A mechanism on some looms with a shuttle that allows the use of more than one supply of weft. The mechanism holds two or more shuttles and moves vertically to place the required shuttle in the picking position. Brian Crawford
See also: shuttle; picking

Cloth woven on a broad loom. In the Witney area this eventually came to mean a fairly heavy, felted material often with waterproof qualities and used for weatherproof coats.
See also: felting

A finishing process in which fabric is passed over one or more revolving brushes. Brian Crawford

bunch yarn
A length of yarn initially wound with a restricted traverse onto the base of a pirn. It provides the supply of weft yarn, in an automatic pirn changing loom, from the time the need for weft replenishment is detected to the time the replenishment takes place. Brian Crawford
See also: automatic loom

Rabbit hair, possibly angora. Listed in Albert Collier's inventory of 1873. Brian Crawford

Removing knots and blemishes from woven blankets. Brian Crawford

burry wool
Wool contaminated with vegetable impurities adhering to the fleece. See carbonising. Brian Crawford
See also: carbonising; fleece (1)

Hydro-extractor or spin dryer: the cage or basket of which held a stockful of blankets. Brian Crawford
See also: stockful

A finishing machine in which heavy rollers (bowls) rotate in contact under mechanical or hydraulic power. Brian Crawford
See also: bowl (1)

Early's made camel blankets, these were not made from camel hair but were dyed a pale fawn colour. Brian Crawford

cap (1)
A type of yarn package spun on a mule spindle. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule; spindle (2)

cap (2)
A ring tube (in ring spinning). Brian Crawford
See also: ring spinning machine

Cape wool
South African wool. Brian Crawford

A process for eliminating cellulose vegetable matter from other fibres, usually wool. This was done at the wet finish stage known as piece carbonising: the cloth was immersed in sulphuric acid then dried and baked in a carbonising oven heated by high pressure steam. Brian Crawford

Large glass container holding 10 gallons in which dangerous chemicals such as sulphuric acid were transported and stored. The jars were contained in a metal cage and were packed with straw for protection. Brian Crawford

card clothing
The leather sheets covered with wire teeth which were used to cover the surface of the rollers of carding and scribbling engines. Fitting the clothing was a specialised job done by the fettlers.
See also: carding engine; scribbling; fettler; swift

The processing of wool to open the fibres up, remove knots and impurities, help comb out the fibres and blend them together to produce a fibre than can be spun. In the wool textile industry it is usually preceded by scribbling, which is a very similar but coarser process.
See also: carding engine; scribbling

carding engine
Also known as a carder, the carding engine opens up the wool to allow spinning and also removes impurities from it. It passes a fine sheet of woollen fibres over a series of rollers covered in fine teeth or pins (card clothing) to comb out the impurities. The resultant fine web is formed into a loosely-twisted 'sliver' before it is sent for spinning. Carding engines are similar to, but finer than, scribbling engines.
See also: sliver; card clothing; scribbling engine

Packing the blanket in a transparent plastic wrapper. The trade name of an early form of wrapping was 'cellophane'; a later supplier was 'British Sidac' but no one talked about 'sidacing'. Brian Crawford

cellular blanket
Blanket with an open weave with thousands of small holes worked into the cloth enabling it to trap pockets of insulating air when used under or between other blankets, making it very light but also very warm.

A multi channelled (12) timed recorder rented by Early's from Telephone Rentals to show the running time of their woollen carding engines. The machine worker would dial a number to record reasons for stoppage e.g. fettling, no blend, breakdown, etc. Brian Crawford

Another name for a warp. Enough warp is wound on to a beam for six (sometimes 10 or more) stockfuls of cloth. Brian Crawford
See also: warp; stockful; beam

The central part of the body of yarn in cop, bobbin or pirn form, on which the thread is coiled during one traversing cycle. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule; cop; bobbin; pirn

A cylindrical package of yarn, cross wound into a flangeless support. During winding the traverse length may be progressively reduced to produce tapered or rounded ends. Brian Crawford

cheese warp
See warping. Brian Crawford
See also: warping

chrome dye
A mordant dye capable of forming a chelate complex with a chromium atom. Brian Crawford

A brand of metal detector. See metal detector. Brian Crawford
See also: metal detector

Charles Early and Co. Ltd ran a blanket cleaning service. The blankets were washed in warm water using a posser washer and dried on outdoor clothes lines. When dry the nap was raised by hand cards. Blankets could also be rebound if necessary. This ceased with the introduction of local laundries and laundrettes. Brian Crawford
See also: nap; hand card

clip of wool (1)
The yield of wool from one shearing. Brian Crawford

clip of wool (2)
One season's clip of wool. Brian Crawford
See also: clip of wool (1)

cloth roller
The roller in a weaving machine into which woven fabric is wound after passing from the take up roller. Brian Crawford
See also: weaving

cloth seal
Seals, usually made from lead, attached as part of the alnage system to newly-made textiles to show that the cloth was of acceptable quality and that the maker had paid the cloth tax. It is uncertain when the first seals were fixed to cloths in this country, but regulations for governing cloth quality were in force from circa 1197.
See also: alnage
Reference: Endrei and Egan 1982:pp47-75

A person who makes and sells clothes.

cog (wooden)
Wooden cogs were for transferring power to machines used in situations where a lot of water was used (such as in milling machines) and millwright technology was appropriate. Brian Crawford
See also: milling machine

Combing carded wool to straighten the fibres and lay them parallel to one another. It is usually used with long fibre wool to create worsted, a very fine woollen material which had little use in blanket making except for the thread used to sew up the cut edges of each blanket (see whipping).
See also: worsted; whipping

A device for condensing a web of carded fibre into a loosely twisted rope. See double doffer. Brian Crawford
See also: double doffer; carding

condenser bobbins
These are used to wind up the slivers delivered from the condenser of a woollen carding engine. After being used in the spinning mule or frame a number of turns were left on the bobbins and these had to be cut off before the bobbin was reused. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning; carding; sliver

cone (1)
A conical support on to which yarn is wound. Brian Crawford

cone (2)
A conical package of yarn wound on a conical support. Brian Crawford
See also: cone

core-spun yarn
A woollen spun yarn from wool or man made fibre incorporating a continuous fibre core. At Early's there were experiments to incorporate nylon continuous fibre to strengthen a woollen yarn spun with lower than normal twist. Brian Crawford

The ends of each blanket were sometimes marked by 'cornering', especially during the 18th century. Blankets were woven in long, uncut pieces known as 'stockfuls'. A design such as a crown (or in the case of Witney, a 'rosed' or 'roses' design) was embroidered in a coloured worsted yarn onto what was the intended corner on the ends of each uncut blanket piece.
See also: stockful; worsted
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p196
Plummer 1934:65

cot blanket
Small blankets used in a baby's cots or wrapping a baby in. 'Cribs' were the smallest sizes. Brian Crawford
See also: cribs

A geographical region in England ringed by Bath, Oxford, Stratford Upon Avon, Cheltenham and Gloucester. The area has a long history of wool production and the name 'Cotswold' is thought by some to be made up of two Saxon words: 'cote' meaning sheep fold and 'wold' meaning bare hill.

count of yarn
Method of variously expressing the mass per unit length of a yarn. Early's expressed their yarn sizes as yards per ounce. Typical counts were warp 140 yards per ounce, weft 90 yards per ounce. Brian Crawford

A man-made fibre made by Courtaulds. It was their staple Acrylic fibre and available in a range of lengths and deniers (thickness). Brian Crawford
See also: denier

A structure for holding supply packages in textile processing. Brian Crawford

See cot blanket. Brian Crawford
See also: cot blanket

The waviness of a fibre. Brian Crawford

A term loosely referring to a wool of medium quality. Brian Crawford

Badly discoloured wool removed from the belly area of the fleece or sheep. It was of low value and often used in grey army or similar blankets. Brian Crawford

To place fabric in loose traverse folds, usually in open width. Brian Crawford

A process in woollen yarn manufacture for extracting burrs, seeds and vegetable matter from wool or or wool fabric. See also carbonising. Brian Crawford
See also: carbonising

The mass of 9000 metres of fibre, filament or yarn. Brian Crawford

The unit of a reed comprising a reed wire and the space between adjacent wires. Brian Crawford
See also: reed

A substance, normally having surface-active properties, especially intended for cleaning. Brian Crawford

A mechanism for controlling the movements of heald shafts of a loom. Mainly used by Early's when weaving cellular blankets. Brian Crawford
See also: heald

The last roller on the carding machine; also the steel comb which strips the carded fibres from the doffer roller.
See also: doffer comb

doffer comb
The steel comb which strips the carded fibres from the doffer roller (sometimes called just 'doffer').

doffing (1)
The removal of material or packages from a textile machine. Brian Crawford

doffing (2)
The replacement of full spinning packages from a textile machine with empty spinning packages. Similar for cheese or cone winding machines. See also carding. Brian Crawford
See also: cheese; cone; carding

dolly scourer
A scouring machine or washing machine which was used for woollen fabrics. The dolly being a trough through which the blankets were passed, it also had large rollers to squeeze the fabric. Brian Crawford

double doffer
A double doffer is a condensing machine, it is used to take the web of carded wool from the carding machine and condense it into a loose thread on to the condenser bobbin. Brian Crawford
See also: condenser bobbin; doffer

doubled yarn
To combine by twisting together two or more single yarns. Used by Early's to produce yarn for cellular blankets. Brian Crawford

A doubler is a hand-operated machine for producing yarn for mop heads.

drafting (1)
The process of drawing out a sliver to decrease the linear length. Brian Crawford
See also: sliver

drafting (2)
The order in which threads are drawn through heald eyes in the loom. Brian Crawford
See also: heald

On a spinning mule, the full cycle of operations from the start of the outward run to the finish of the inward run of the carriage. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule

A series of metal strips suspended on a individual warp thread during weaving. When the thread breaks, the dropper falls causing the machine to stop. Brian Crawford

Also known as shags and trucking cloth, these 17th century terms were used to describe cloth which sounds similar to early point blankets. Kitty Smith
See also: point blanket; trucking cloth

A heavy blanket-type cloth with a close thick nap usually striped in bright colours. See Hudson's Bay point blanket. Brian Crawford
See also: Hudson's Bay point blanket

Trade name for a spun dyed viscose fibre. See viscose. Brian Crawford
See also: viscose

The process of adding colour to a material. A dye, which may be vegetable or chemical in origin, is usually dissolved in water and the material soaked in it. Mordants (such as alum) are added to help fix the dye in the cloth.
See also: alum; winch dyeing; pad dyer; madder; woad

The shrink resistant process for wool licensed by Stevenson of Abergate. Used by Early's on their wool cellular blankets. Brian Crawford

'Earlywarm' was the trade mark for Early's woollen blankets from 1925.

A decorative pattern superimposed on a fabric by an embroidery machine. Used by Early's to mark a company name on a blanket. The design was bought in by Early's on a punched tape. Brian Crawford

end (1)
In weaving this refers to an individual warp thread. Brian Crawford

end (2)
In spinning this refers to an individual thread. Brian Crawford

A situation that exists when a warp thread breaks on a loom. Brian Crawford
See also: end (1)

A Courtauld's fibre. See viscose. Brian Crawford
See also: viscose

faller wire
The wires on a spinning mule that control the winding on of the yarn onto the bobbin, giving it the correct shape.
See also: spinning mule; bobbin

Curved arms fixed to two shafts on a mule carriage and carrying faller wires. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule; faller wire

An twisting operation applied as an intermediate on a yarn or other continuous assembly of fibres. This is so that no twist can be inserted as distinct from twisting at the end of a yarn where real twist is inserted. Brian Crawford
See also: ratch

A roller covered with long springy wire on a woollen card immediately prior to a doffer. It lifts the web of the swift so that it can be stripped cleanly by the doffer. Brian Crawford
See also: carding engine; swift

fast loom
Later form of power loom. Of bottom swing form, with the going part hinged at the bottom of the loom frame.
See also: going part; slow loom

Known in Witney as a 'Fearnought' the teaser was the second machine used in the 'willeying' process and had cylinders closely set with small curved teeth that further opened out the wool fibres.
See also: teaser

feeler motion
A mechanical device used to detect when the weft on a bobbin in an automatic loom is nearly exhausted. Brian Crawford
See also: bobbin; automatic loom

fell of cloth
The line or termination of the fabric in a loom formed by the last thread. Brian Crawford

fell wool
Wool recovered from 'fells', the skins of sheep stripped from dead and butchered animals.
See also: fells; fleece wool

A dealer in 'fells' or sheepskins. Sheepskins taken from dead and butchered animals were collected from farmers, butchers and shepherds by the fellmonger. He then stripped the wool from the skins. The fellmongers went from town to town buying the skins and supplied the wool to the blanket weavers.
See also: fells
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:pp4-5

The process of pulling the wool from sheep skins. Brian Crawford
See also: slipe

Sheepskins removed from sheep slaughtered for meat, or from those which have died from natural causes.
See also: fellmonger

The meshing together of textile fibres to form a denser material. See fulling. Brian Crawford
See also: fulling stocks

Fettlers removed waste and dirt from the card clothing of the carding engines using a comb. They worked in teams and had to lift heavy rollers to do their job. They were one of the few groups of mill workers to be given a steel toe-cap shoe allowance and were the people that were sent for when any heavy lifting was required.
See also: carding engine; card clothing

The trade name of a method of cloth making invented in the USA by the Chatham Manufacturing Company of Elkin, South Carolina, and first used in Witney by Early and Marriott's in the 1960s. The process was developed from the needlepunch process and based on a principle of looping and matting together a web of fibres produced by a carding engine to form a fabric. Banks of barbed needles were repeatedly thrust through several layers of webbing to create a thick, springy, felt-like fabric that was warm and fairly lightweight. It avoided the spinning process entirely.
See also: carding engine; spinning

Fiberwoven goods are those produced on the Fiberweaving production lines, at Early's they included blankets, carpet, floor tiles, corn plasters, and slipper cloth
See also: Fiberweaving; Warlord; slipper cloth

A trade name for viscose yarn. See viscose.
See also: viscose

An artificial fibre made from milk casein by ICI. It had a low wet strength. Brian Crawford

The wire teeth on the rollers of the scribbling and carding engines.
See also: scribbling; carding

The finishing processes are those undertaken after the raising, they include cutting, binding, folding and packing. Phil Platt
See also: binding (1)

fleece (1)
The wool shorn from a sheep.
See also: fleece wool; fell wool

fleece wool
Wool shorn from live sheep, usually from breeds bred specially for their wool.
See also: fell wool

fleece (2)
The carded wool fibres coming off the doffer comb.
See also: doffer comb

Waste obtained from the raising process. This was reused in cheap blankets or sold to stuff soft toys. Brian Crawford
See also: raising

floor covering
The introduction of Fiberweaving enabled new products to made at the blanket mills. Early's produced carpet and carpet tiles for floor covering the main product had the trade name Warlord. Brian Crawford
See also: Fiberweaving; Warlord; tilt

A Witney word for a good accumulation of morning dew. Witney tuckers believed a good flop was good for blankets hung out overnight on the tenter racks.
See also: tuckers; tenter rack
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p196

Dust generated in the carding machine or waste fibres. Mike French

flying shuttle
The flying shuttle was the invention of John Kay (1704-1764) of Bury, Lancashire in 1733. Kay created a shuttle made from a block of wood with pointed ends, fitted with wheels and hollowed out to hold a bobbin full of thread. The weaver gave a cord attached to a 'picker' a sharp tug, which caused the picker to hit the shuttle and send it flying across the loom on a track. The wheels reduced the friction of the shuttle. When it reached the other side of the loom, a tug on the cord in the opposite direction would send it flying back again. The lengths of weft inserted by the shuttle were known as 'picks' or 'shoots'.
See also: picker; hand loom; shuttle

The last 4 to 6 feet at the ends of a stockful which had been damaged by stitching during processing. It was also where a reference number (from 1 to 9999) was placed to identify the piece. Brian Crawford
See also: stockful

A loaded bobbin, ready for use in a shuttle. 'Fosset' was a name particular to the Witney blanket industry - elsewhere 'pirn' or 'cop' was the usual name, but these terms would not have been understood by many of the Witney workers.
See also: pirn

fuller's earth
Hydrous silicate of alumina, a stiff, highly-absorbent clay. Used for cleaning and removing grease from woven cloth in the fulling process. It was considered so important that exports from Britain were banned until the early 18th century.
See also: fulling

The process of cleaning and thickening (or felting) newly-woven cloth by beating or rolling it when wet. Friction causes the fibres to mat together reducing the size of the piece by as much as a third.
See also: fuller's earth; fulling stocks
Reference: Aspin 1994:p25

fulling mill
A mill where the fulling of cloth was carried out. Fulling was the first textile manufacturing process to be industrialised: a fulling mill was recorded in 1175 at Temple Guiting in the Cotswolds. These early fulling mills used water power to drive trip hammers which pounded and rolled the cloth underwater. Most Cotswold rivers had several fulling mills on them.
See also: fulling; fulling stocks
Reference: Woodman 1978:p19

fulling stocks
Machine which used heavy wooden hammers to full the cloth. Cloth was placed in the stocks with water and fuller's earth. The power source (at first a waterwheel, later a steam engine) raised and dropped pairs of hammers on to the cloth to pound, drag and roll the fabric, which made it felt up and shrink. The fuller's earth combined with the grease and dirt in the wool and was washed out at the end. Later replaced by the milling machine.
See also: fulling; fuller's earth; felting; milling machine

General term used to describe the positioning of the warp, healds and reed in a loom, in readiness for weaving. Brian Crawford
See also: warp; heald; reed

gaiting up
Setting up a loom in readiness for weaving. Brian Crawford
See also: gait

Type of carding machine with rollers and cylinders covered with metallic teeth. This machine was used to pull apart spinning waste so that it could be reused. Named after the machine makers P. & C. Garnett of Cleckheaton. Brian Crawford
See also: carding

A machine for weaving cloth on. See heald, loom. Brian Crawford
See also: heald; loom

A gig is a machine for raising the nap of cloth. Also called teasel gig, oscillator gig, single action gig, double action gig and moser gig. Mike French
See also: gig mill; nap; raising

gig mill
A machine for raising the nap of cloth after it has been fulled. Gig mills usually consisted of teasels set in racks fitted to rotating cylinders, over which the cloth was passed. Wire hooks were introduced in the 19th century to replace teasels, but teasels were still sometimes preferred because they did not pull or tear the cloth so easily. Gig mills have been known since the reign of Edward VI (1547-1553), but even as late as 1802 their introduction to Wiltshire and Somerset caused riots. In 1782 the Company of Blanket Weavers 'unanimously agreed to purchase, erect and set up an engine for rowing blankets'. It was powered by a horse, and known locally as a 'rowing machine'.
See also: nap; raising; rowing machine; teasel
Reference: Plummer 1934:p82

going part
The collection of working parts on a loom which includes the reed and shuttle race and their mountings. After each pass (pick) of the shuttle, the whole assembly pivots forward to beat up the cloth. The going part is ginged either at the top (top-swing) or bottom (bottom-swing).
See also: loom; reed; picking; beating up

greasy wool
Sheep's wool containing the natural grease. Brian Crawford

grinding rag
Known also as a pulling. The operation of reducing rag or hard thread to a fibrous state. Used by Early's on forrels by a commission processor, to recover waste fibres. Brian Crawford
See also: forrel

gripper shuttle
Shuttle used on a Sulzer loom which grabs the yarn in its jaws to carry it across the loom. Sometimes known as a bullet shuttle. Mike French
See also: Sulzer loom

A dye-impregnated hammer was used to mark lengths of yarn indicating the ends of a blanket. Mike French

hand card
A wooden bat with wire teeth set into leather facings. Used for raising the nap on cloth as a final quality check after the blanket had been through the gig mill.
See also: raising; gig mill

hand loom
Unpowered, hand operated loom, worked by one or two weavers. These were of the top swing type, in which the going part is hinged at the top of the loom. Hand looms remained in use in the Witney blanket industry, especially for weaving wadmill, horse collar check and tilts, until the 1960s because they were no slower than power looms for some fabrics.
See also: collar check; wadmill; tilt; journeyman; flying shuttle

Collective name for the heald and shafts and (where appropriate) Jacquard cords used in a loom. Brian Crawford
See also: heald; Jacquard loom

The bands of colour at either end of a blanket, often present on point blankets.
See also: point blanket

Part of the loom: cords with rings or loops (eyes) attached through which the warp is threaded, enabling alternate warp threads to be moved up and down. By swapping the position of the healds after each pass of the shuttle, the weft is woven between each warp thread.
See also: loom; warp; weft

Another name for heald. Brian Crawford
See also: heald

hog wool
Hoggett wool; teg wool. The first clip of wool from a sheep not previously shorn as a lamb. Brian Crawford

See bastard mule. Brian Crawford
See also: bastard mule

Hudson's Bay point blanket
Hudson's Bay Company blanket: a well-made heavyweight blanket made from coarse staple wool. First supplied to the Hudson's Bay Company in 1780. The points are woven into one edge and indicate the quality in points and half points. Each point generally traded for one good quality male beaver pelt. Brian Crawford
See also: point blanket; staple

The process of moving from a system of manufacture primarily based in homes and small workshops and usually using hand tools, to an environment in which products are made in a more organised and systematic manner, normally in factories using machines and mechanical power.
See also: mechanisation

A flame resistant fibre made by Courtauld's. Brian Crawford

International Wool Secretariat or Wool Bureau. A commercial body financed by world wide wool producers to promote the use of wool. The woolmark symbol was a mark of the IWS's approval. Brian Crawford

Jacquard loom
The first successful loom for automatically weaving complex patterns, invented by Joseph-Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) around 1804. By using a system of punched cards strung together as a moving belt, individual warp threads could be raised or lowered according to a preset pattern. Holes in the cards allowed needles to pass through, raising or lowering the warp threads attached to them. Early's used some Jacquard looms around the end of the 19th century until about 1920.
See also: loom

Workers between the status of apprentice and master; they would be skilled but would not own their own equipment and would work for a master. In Witney both weavers and tuckers were divided into masters and journeymen.
See also: tuckers

Coarse animal fibre. Brian Crawford

A coarse narrow cloth woven from long staple wool. This narrow but heavy blanketing was supplied to the North American natives even earlier than the point blankets. Also known as 'kezzy'. Brian Crawford
See also: point blanket

knitted cord
A heald consisting entirely of knitted textile cords, in which the central eye is formed by looping the cord. Brian Crawford
See also: heald

Liquor to goods ratio, the ratio of the weight of liquor employed in any treatment to the weight of material treated. Brian Crawford

The border or stripes woven into ends of blankets. Most commonly the stripes were blue because they made the blankets look whiter, but by the middle of the 20th century other colours were being used. As well as being decorative, the laces were at one time also as a way of marking the position where a stockful of cloth was cut into individual blankets. Laces were also known as 'shoots'. Brian Crawford
See also: perching

A fine, soft wool taken from a lamb or young sheep.

The natural fat or grease from sheep wool; often used in skin ointments and moisturisers.

Stale urine: used for cleaning (scouring) raw wool.

leader fabric
A length of fabric used in finishing or dyeing to lead cloth through a machine and generally left ready for attachment to a further piece when necessary. Brian Crawford

Formation of the ends of a warp that maintains an orderly arrangement during warping and preparation processes and during weaving. A lease consists of two sheets of alternate ends which pass alternately over and under two transverse rods or cords and the cross formed by sheets of ends in characteristic of a lease. Brian Crawford

leno edge
See leno fabric and selvage. Brian Crawford
See also: leno fabric; selvage

leno fabric
Fabric in which the warp threads have been made to cross one another between picks, during leno weaving. Brian Crawford
See also: leno edge; selvage

Overhead shaft in a workshop transmitting the power from the waterwheel or mill engine to the various machines. Wheels would be fitted to the shaft at each machine station and leather belts were used to connect the machine to the shaft.
See also: belting

live horse, dead horse
Methods of withholding payment and paying advances to piece workers to standardise their wages. Brian Crawford
See also: piecework

Term used in wool sorting, for short oddments of wool which fall from the skirting table or are swept from the floor. Brian Crawford

The term used for blankets dyed a reddish brown colour with a dye extruded from the logwood tree. Later it came to mean cheap low grade blanketing of any colour (19th century). Brian Crawford

A machine for weaving cloth.
See also: hand loom; power loom; weaving

loom tuner
A loom tuner repaired and maintained looms, keeping them running and producing the right quality cloth by making fine adjustments. A loom tuner would oversee several looms in a weaving shed. Phil Platt
See also: loom

loom weight
Clay weights used to maintain the tension on the warp of upright looms. Several warp threads were tied to a weight which was then suspended from the top bar of the loom. They are often found on archaeological sites in areas where cloth was produced, and can date from Iron Age (c800BC - 43AD) to Medieval times, when horizontal looms were introduced.
See also: warp

Any woven fabric as it leaves the loom before processing. Brian Crawford
See also: loom

Natural ingredient used in dyeing wool, giving a red or pink colour. Derived from the madder plant.
See also: dyeing

magazine creel
A creel which has two package holders for each running end. This allows the yarn on the two packages to be tied tail-to-nose so as to ensure a continuous supply of yarn to the warping machine or loom (Sulzer loom, rapier loom, or other types). Brian Crawford
See also: yarn; warping machine; loom

Master's chair
The chair of the Master of the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company. For many years it was used by the President of Early's. Brian Crawford

The process of moving from tools that are either powered directly by the operator or by animal power, to machine tools which require mechanical power and which operate more or less automatically. It often results in the industry being organised into factories.
See also: industrialisation

mending section
After weaving blankets go to the mending section to have any machine faults corrected. Points are sewn on on in this section also. Mike French
See also: point blanket

A variety of sheep, originally from Spain but extensively reared in Australia. It has a fine wool which produces a soft woollen yarn and fabric used for the best quality blankets.

Overlocking, the first overlocking machines were made by a company called Merrow. Brian Crawford
See also: overlocking

metal detector
Used to locate broken needles caught in the fabric. Brian Crawford

A process which took place after cloth had been woven - it removed grease and shrank the material down to a smaller size while matting up the fibres into a thicker and softer felt-like fabric. Fulling stocks and later the milling machine were used to do this job
See also: fulling stocks; milling machine

milling machine
Used to shrink newly woven blankets by running the cloth through water and rollers. Brian Crawford

mogadove wool
Cat bird wool, more or less shoddy. Mentioned in Albert Collier's inventory 1873 Brian Crawford
See also: shoddy

see bastard mule Brian Crawford

The fibrous material made in the woollen trade by pulling garnetting, new or old hand woven cloth, milled cloth or felt into a rag form. See shoddy. It was not used for blankets as the fibres were too short.
See also: garnett; shoddy

The surface of cloth consisting of raised fibres.
See also: raising

A process of making cloth. It involves passing rows of barbed needles through a web of carded fibres, causing the fibres to interlock and mesh together in a felt-like mat. Dating from the 19th century, it was further developed in America into the Fiberweaving process which was introduced to Witney in the 1960s.
See also: Fiberweaving

The stretch produced in yarn during the spinning process by pairs of rollers. If the second pair revolves faster than the first the fibres between them will be stretched, evening out the thickness of the yarn.
See also: spinning; spinning mule; ring spinning machine

Dust and dirt cleaned from wool during the willeying process.
See also: willeying

Northrop loom
See automatic loom.
See also: automatic loom

Oil added to raw wool to protect it during carding and improve its spinning qualities. The oil, often made from rapeseed, was sprayed on to the wool after willeying and finally removed from the woven cloth during fulling. The addition of soda ash during fulling transformed the oil into soap, which washed the blankets before being rinsed out. Often known as wool oil.
See also: willeying; fulling; soda ash

Sewing up the edges of the cut blanket to stop fraying. Singer made special overlocking sewing machines.
See also: whipping; merrowing

pad dyer
As part of the Fiberweaving production line the pad dyer was a piece of equipment used to dye Fiberwoven cloth. Dyeing problems had occurred through uneven dye coverage. This piece of equipment ensured that the dye was spread evenly over all the fabric.
See also: Fiberweaving; dyeing

pad mangle
A pad mangle is used for the impregnation of textiles in open width, in which in which textiles are passed through one or more nips. See calender.
See also: calender

Large roller hug from the ceiling used to hold blankets while the nap was straightened by hand with hand card. Stockfuls of blankets were passed over perches to be examined for foreign inclusions and faults at this stage most of the worst oil patches could also be removed. Perches were used to hold blankets while the nap was straightened by hand with hand card. Brian Crawford
See also: nap; hand card

Checking the woven blankets for faults, impurities and foreign bodies such as needles. Later assisted by the use of the metal detector.
See also: perch; metal detector

A person who inspected stockfuls of blankets for faults, foreign inclusions and stains. Yvonne Souch
See also: stockful; perch

A single thread of weft left by a shuttle in its path across the loom. The density of weaving was measured in picks per inch. An alternative word is 'shoot'.
See also: weft

pick counter
Device attached to a loom to count the number of picks a weaver made in a shift. Used to calculate pay by piecework.
See also: pick; piecework

A piece of moulded buffalo hide used to 'pick' or propel the shuttle across the loom. Brian Crawford
See also: picking

picker teaser
Draws out the fibre from a mass of raw wool for blending. Mike French

The action of throwing the flying shuttle across the loom. The handloom weaver jerked a 'picking peg' attached to a cord, causing the picker to hit the shuttle. In the power loom the process was similar but a picking stick powered by the mill engine replaced the picking peg.
See also: picker; picking stick; shedding; beating up

picking stick
The part of the loom that jerks the picker, sending the shuttle flying across the loom.
See also: picker

Payment by 'the piece', which is a set length of cloth. Therefore the more work completed, the higher the wage. After the Second World War Early's looms were fitted with individual pick counters and workers were paid for the number of picks woven.
See also: pick

Rubbing together the ends of strips of carded web to make slubbings. This was the raw material supplied to the slubbing billy. Before mechanisation, this was a job done by children. Brian Crawford
See also: slubbing; carding

piecing machine
Machine used to piece or rub together the ends of pieces of carded web to make slubbings. This was the raw material supplied to the slubbing billy. Brian Crawford
See also: slubbing; slubbing billy; carding

The fine hairs on the surface of a cloth.
See also: nap

A loaded bobbin. Not a term usually used in the Witney blanket industry, where the local name was 'fosset'.
See also: fosset

point blanket
A blanket with a number of black bars or 'points' sewn into a long edge near a corner. Originally each point indicated an exchange value of one good quality beaver pelt; half points were also used, signifying a small or poorer quality pelt. Eventually the system came to denote a certain weight and quality of blanket.
See also: points; Hudson's Bay point blanket

Short lines sewn or woven into the corner of point blankets to indicate the size and value of the blanket.
See also: point blanket
Reference: Tichenor:2002

Although the River Windrush provided an ample supply of water for the mills for washing and dyeing it was also used as an outlet to get rid of unpleasant and dangerous chemicals. Often this was by accidental spillage but often it was by design. Waste water from the washing operations found their way into the river, this included dirty and organic substances as well as ammonium by-products used in cleaning and scouring. Waste products from the dyeing operation and dangerous chemicals were particularly injurious to the river's health. In latter years regulations were tightened up and all the mills had to have effluent tanks for all these products. Phil Platt
See also: Windrush, River

power loom
A machine for weaving cloth, using power to drive all the working parts. The first power loom was invented by Edmund Cartwright in 1785 but it was many years before power looms were reliable enough for the mass production of textiles. By 1825, however, over half the production of cotton cloth was woven on power looms, and the number of power looms increased rapidly after this date. In the woollen industries, progress was slower as the early broadcloth power looms were no faster than a good handloom weaver (about 40 picks per minute). The first power looms in Witney were introduced about 1858-1860.
See also: automatic loom; Sulzer loom; rapier loom; hand loom; Fiberweaving
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:pp82-83

Nine inches, a quarter of a yard, often used as a measure of blanket size. A 16-quarter blanket would be 144 inches (12 feet) wide when it came off the loom, but would shrink considerably during fulling.
See also: fulling

The tube or shaft onto which weft spools are wound. Before the introduction of the spinning mule, the bobbins for handloom shuttles were plain rods called quills, a name which may derive from the use of sticks as faucets (taps or bungs) in barrels, etc.
Reference: Smith unpub.

The process of winding hand-spun yarn on to a fosset. Also used to rewind hanks of dried yarn on to fossets. Quilling was usually done by children for a weaver (often by the weaver's own children). Brian Crawford
See also: fosset

The process of raising a knap on the blankets, traditionally done with teasel heads.
See also: teasel; raising

raising gig
A machine for raising the knap on the blankets, traditionally done with teasel heads, latterly with wire fingers. See gig. Phil Platt
See also: raising; teasel; fingers; gig

rapier loom
A loom using a rod or rapier to pass the yarn from one side of the cloth to another, avoiding the use of shuttles entirely. Used by Smith and Philips' at Bridge Street Mill after the Second World War.
See also: shuttle

Raschel knitting machine
Machines which knitted, rather than wove, blankets. Imported from Germany from 1966, they produced shawl-like blankets at four times the speed of conventional looms.
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p171-172

The distance between the nips of rollers in a roller-drafting system. Brian Crawford
See also: nip

In 1895 the Witney Gazette reported that the Witney Urban District Council Boundary Committee had established that there was no doubt that Woodgreen, West End and Witney Mills as well as the railway station should be included in the urban rates. Brian Crawford

A synthetic fibre made from cellulose. Kitty Smith

Device on a loom consisting of several wires set between two slates or baulks. This separates warp threads; determines the spacing between warp threads; guides the shuttle or rapier and beats up the weft. Also known as a 'sley'. Brian Crawford
See also: weft; baulk; dent; beating up

Winding operation which winds the yarn onto small cheeses. Mike French
See also: cheese

ring doffer
The final cylinder at the end of the carding engine, which strips the carded fibre from the swift. There are gaps between the bands of card clothing which ensures that narrow bands of fibre are removed, which are then condensed into a loose rope or 'sliver'.
See also: doffer; double doffer; condenser; sliver

ring doubling machine
Machine which twists two strands of yarn together to improve strength and even out irregularities in thickness. Mike French

ring spinning machine
A machine for spinning large quantities of thread evenly and in long lengths. Unlike the spinning mule, it is a continuous process, twisting and winding in one movement. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning; spinning mule

Another name for raising. In Witney it is pronounced to rhyme with 'ploughing'.
See also: raising
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p197

rowing machine
A rowing machine was one of the first processes to be mechanised in the Witney blanket industry. It brushed the surface of the cloth all over to remove any imperfections and give it a uniform appearance. It was introduced by the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company and members paid a fee for its use.
See also: rowing; raising

A viscose fibre made by Courtauld's. Brian Crawford
See also: viscose

scissor and tuck
A mechanism on a Sulzer loom that cuts the end of the yarn and tucks it into the weft forming a selvage edge. Mike French
See also: Sulzer loom; selvage

scotch feed
A mechanism for taking a rope of carded web from the scribbler and feeding it directly to the carder.
See also: scribbling engine; carding engine

See dolly scourer. Brian Crawford
See also: dolly scourer

The initial stage of carding. It roughly cleans and mixes the fibres before they are passed on to the carding process, which does a similar job but more finely.
See also: scribbling engine; carding; carding engine

scribbling engine
Also known as a 'scribbler'. A machine for scribbling, very similar to the carding engine. Usually the scribbler would feed the carder directly via a scotch feed.
See also: scribbling; carding engine; scotch feed

Another name for the automatic spinning mule. 'Self-acting' is an early phrase meaning automatic. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning mule

The edge of a fabric where the weft is tucked back into the warp. It prevents the edge from unravelling.

A 17th century term for a cloth that may have been similar to early point blankets. Also known as duffields or trucking cloth.
See also: duffields; trucking cloth

shake willey
As part of the willeying process, the shake willey shook the wool while cylinders fitted with iron spikes beat it and roughly opened it out. This got rid of much of the dust and dirt (known as 'nips') which were then blown away by a fan.
See also: willey; nips

Machine that opens up the wool of a fleece. See shake willey. Mike French
See also: shake willey

The act of creating a warp shed, a space for the shuttle to run through on the loom.
See also: warp shed; picking; beating up

sheet feeder
Mechanism for ensuring that even quantities and weights of wool are fed into the carding machine. Mike French

Heavy canvas used to transport fibre from the blending machine to the next process. They were frequently made from the canvas the wool was packed in. Brian Crawford

The fibre produced by a garnett machine when it tears up woven loosely woven or knitted fabric. See mungo.
See also: garnett; mungo

Another word for 'pick', a single thread of weft left by a shuttle in its pass across the loom. The horizontal stripes ('laces') across blankets were made with picks (or 'shoots') of coloured yarn.
See also: pick; weft; weaving; lace
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:197

A device used in a loom for passing the warp thread between the weft threads.
See also: weaving; warp; weft; flying shuttle

shuttle race
The board on which the shuttle runs during weaving.
See also: shuttle; power loom

Starch paste used to saturate the weft threads before weaving. This strengthened the thread against the wear and tear of the shuttle passing over it. It would be washed of in the fulling process.
See also: weft; fulling

Pointed square section wooden skewers were used to close wool sheets and to secure the two ends of wrappers around finished stockfuls of blankets. Brian Crawford
See also: sheets; stockful

See reed. Brian Crawford
See also: reed

Wool removed from sheep or lamb hide (fell wool). Mike French
See also: fell wool

slipper cloth
Fiberwoven cloth produced by Early's to be made into the upper of slippers.
See also: Fiberweaving

The soft rope of fibres taken from the carding machine in which the fibres have been laid parallel and smoothed out. Pronounced to rhyme with 'diver'.
See also: carding engine

slow loom
An older type of power loom. They were of the top swing type, with the going part hung from above the cloth as on a hand loom. Brian Crawford
See also: fast loom; power loom

Loose rope of material formed from the web of carded wool. It was formed by piecing together several short strips taken from the carding engine. It was lightly twisted on the slubbing billy before being spun. Brian Crawford
See also: piecing; carding; slubbing billy

slubbing billy
Machine that lightly twisted the slubbing to give it just enough strength to withstand the spinning process. Later superseded by the condensing machine (see condenser). Brian Crawford
See also: slubbing; spinning mule; condenser

A type of wool. Named after Smyrna in Turkey (now called Izmir). It was listed in Albert Collier's inventory of 1873. Brian Crawford

soda ash
Sodium carbonate, used in solution during fulling or milling to saponify (turn to soap) the oleic acid, which is a major component of the oil applied to wool prior to carding. Brian Crawford
See also: fulling; milling

Separating out the different qualities of wool found in the same fleece.
See also: fleece (1)

spindle (1)
Until spinning wheels were invented, wool was spun into thread by twisting woollen fibres around a stick known as a spindle that was weighted by a whorl.
See also: spindle whorl

spindle whorl
Before spinning wheels were used, wool was spun on a drop spindle with a spindle whorl giving the momentum. Whorls are round, heavy objects with a hole through them that were made of stone, bone, glass, chalk or shale.
See also: spindle (1)

spindle (2)
The individual upright rotating shaft on a spinning mule onto which a bobbin was placed to wind yarn; each mule could have hundreds of spindles. Also found on ring spinning frames, and several other textile machines.
See also: bobbin; spinning mule; ring spinning frame

spinner (1)
A person who spins yarn.

spinner (2)
A rotating piece of piping on the end of the wool pneumatic conveyer system which spread the wool blend evenly over a blending bin.

The act of creating a yarn or thread by drawing out and twisting a rope or sliver of carded fibres.
See also: yarn; sliver; spinning mule; ring spinning machine

spinning jack
The spinning jack was a modification of the spinning jenny invented to spin multiple spindles of wool. One is listed in Albert Collier's inventory of 1873. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning jenny; spindle (2)

spinning jenny
The spinning jenny was invented by Hargreaves in 1777 and mechanised the spinning process, although it was only a hand-powered machine. It enabled several spindles to be spun at the same time. One was mentioned in the Colliers' inventory of 1873. Usually called a 'jenny'. Brian Crawford
See also: spinning; spindle (2); spinning jack

spinning mule
Machine for spinning woollen threads. So called because it was once thought to be a cross (or 'mule') between two earlier and different types of spinning machines. The mule operator needed to be a skilled worker, even when the fully automatic mule was introduced in the 1830s.
See also: spinning; bastard mule

spivey oiler
An early method of spraying oil onto fibre being carried on a conveyer belt.
See also: wool oil

A trichlorethylene based solvent used for removing spots from blankets. Brian Crawford

spring loom
Form of handloom fitted with Kay's flying shuttle so that it could be operated by one man. Brian Crawford
See also: flying shuttle; hand loom

The technical term for the length of fibre taken from a fleece.
See also: fleece (1)

Another name for the tenter machine.
See also: tenter machine

A complete length of material as it came off the loom at the end of weaving, before being cut into individual blankets. A stockful weighed about a hundred pounds and was manageable by one man. So called because it was large enough to fill the bowl of a pair of fulling stocks.
See also: fulling stocks
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p197

The rotating drum that takes the wool off the carder to present it to the doffer is called the stripper.
See also: carding engine; doffer

Sulzer loom
Modern mechanised weaving machine that could weave several threads at once. Made by the Sulzer engineering company of Switzerland. Mike French
See also: gripper shuttle

The large central roller on scribbling and carding engines. It carries the raw wool past the worker rollers, which tease out impurities and blend the fibres.
See also: carding engine; scribbling engine

The person that sews on the tabs or labels to the blankets (usually a woman or girl). Brian Crawford
See also: tabs

To fix a label or tab on the corner of a blanket. Brian Crawford
See also: tabs

tabbing machine
A sewing machine, usually made by Singer after the Second World War, used to sew tabs on to blankets. Brian Crawford
See also: tabs

The label fixed to one corner of the blanket, originally of woven cloth with embroidered script. Tabs, particularly of lower quality blankets, were a piece of resin-impregnated fabric with the text printed on. Brian Crawford
See also: tabber; tabbing machine

An early form of hoist, usually rope. Brian Crawford

A special type of thistle heading, used for raising the nap on blankets. The barbs are strong and springy, but do not tear the cloth. Even after the introduction of wire-bristle raising machines, teasel gigs were preferred for the best quality blankets.
See also: raising; gig mill
Reference: Raistrick 2001:p31-33

Known in Witney as a 'Fearnought' the teaser was the second machine used in the willeying process and had cylinders closely set with small curved teeth that further opened out the wool fibres.
See also: fearnought; willeying

An island in the Canary Islands chain. The Canary Islands supplied wool to the Witney blanket industry. 'Tenerife' refers to merino wool of 60/64 quality coming from the Canary Islands. It is recorded in Albert Collier's inventory of 1873.
See also: merino

See tenter machine.
See also: tenter machine

tenter hook
Small hook on a tenter rack used for hanging up blankets outdoors to dry. Tenter hooks were very sharp and the tenterers had to be very careful when hanging out the blankets.
See also: tenter rack

tenter machine
Mechanical and heated method of drying blankets used since tenter racks fell out of use. Also known as a stenter. Mike French
See also: tenter rack

tenter rack
Racks in the open air where blankets would be hung out to dry after fulling. Each rack was covered with hundreds of tenter hooks.
See also: tentering; tenter hook; fulling

Hanging blankets out to dry on racks (tenter racks).
See also: tenter rack

Ends of the weft or warp sticking up through the cloth, remainders of the warp and weft.

A very coarse, greasy weave of heavy fabric used to cover waggons and barges. The natural oil was not washed out of the fabric, making it waterproof. It was largely used before rubberised fabrics were introduced; it was also used until the 1960s as carpet on the floor of ICI's ammunition magazines as it was sparkproof. Also called tilting. Brian Crawford
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p198

See tilt.
See also: tilt

tin roller
Roller running the length of a spinning mule, used to make the individual spindles rotate. A short length of belting connected each spindle to the tin roller.
See also: spinning mule; spindle (2); belting

top swing loom
Top swing looms were the first power looms used at Early's. Like the hand looms they replaced they had moving parts pivoted from the top. Brian Crawford
See also: power loom; bottom swing loom

trucking cloth
A 17th century term for a cloth that may have been similar to early point blankets. Also known as duffields or shag. 'Trucking' in this case means trading.
See also: point blanket; duffields

In the days of hand weaving the woven blankets were finished on a commission basis in water powered fulling stocks by fullers, who were known in Witney and the West Country as tuckers. In the 20th century, when large manufacturers controlled the finishing processes, the tuckers (who were no longer independent) were responsible for sulphur bleaching and hanging stockfuls on the tenter racks. Brian Crawford
See also: fuller; fulling; Tuckers' Feast; stockful

Tuckers' Feast
A feast provided by the mill owners for the tuckers which was always held on Shrove Tuesday. The tradition developed out of the Tuckers' Reckoning Feast, a pre-industrial era celebration held by the tuckers to which they invited the weavers; at the Feast the tuckers settled their bills for blanket finishing for the year. By the 20th century it was organised by Early's for the men involved in blanket finishing (especially tentering), and finally died out in 1982. 'Wonderfully Curious', the tuckers' song, was sung at the Feast. Brian Crawford
See also: tuckers

Twist in yarn is described as 'S' or 'Z' according to which it direction it leans when viewed vertically. Brian Crawford

A vessel or a tank. Used in several processes but particularly dyeing and carbonising. Brian Crawford
See also: dyeing; carbonising

virgin wool
Fibre from a fleece of a sheep that has not previously been spun into yarn or felted, or incorporated into a finished fabric. Brian Crawford
See also: fleece (1); yarn

A manufactured fibre of cellulose commonly made from wood pulp. Its trade name was 'Fibro'. Its low price made it attractive to use. Courtauld's also made viscose fibres with a semi permanent crimp. Brian Crawford

A rough woollen cloth mainly used for lining leather horse collars. Also called wadnal or wednel.
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p198

Another name for wadmill.
See also: wadmill
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p198

Early's made an anti-static form of floor covering called 'Warlord'. It was made on the Fiberweavers, and was formed from a coarse synthetic filament bonded with resin. Warlord was much in favour for rooms in which early mainframe computers were housed, as it did not produce damaging static electricity. Brian Crawford
See also: Fiberweaving

The threads running through the length of a woven piece of fabric. Before the loom can be set up, all the warp threads are wound on to the warp beam (warping).
See also: warp beam; warping

warp beam
The beam at the back of the loom that carries the warp threads.
See also: warp; warping

warp shed
The space created by the individual warp threads being alternately raised and lowered. The shuttle passes the weft through the shed.
See also: shedding; warp; weft

Setting up a warp beam to carry the right number of warp threads.
See also: warp beam; warp

See dolly scourer. Brian Crawford
See also: dolly scourer

Alternately crossing weft upon warp threads to produce a cloth. In the Witney dialect it is pronounced to rhyme with 'waving', and the seal of the Witney Blanket Weavers' Company actually uses the word 'WAVERS'.

weaving shed
The building or rooms in which looms are kept. Brian Crawford

The loose mat of fibres produced by the scribbling and carding engines.
See also: scribbling; carding

Another name for wadmill.
See also: wadmill
Reference: Plummer and Early 1969:p198

In weaving, the thread carried by the shuttle that is woven across the cloth between the warp threads.
See also: warp

weft basket
Open willow basket used to deliver weft to weavers.

weft battery
A battery of cones, cheeses or fossets. Mike French
See also: cone; cheese; fosset; automatic loom

weights and measures
1) Packs, scores and pounds (lbs) were measures used until the second half of the 20th century. 1 pack = 240 lbs. 1 score = 20 lbs. 12 score = 1 pack. Wool was priced in old pennies per lb., so wool bought at 1d per pound = 1 per pack. Brian Crawford

6 pounds in weight. This is a very old unit of weight and was still in use at Early's after the Second World War for weighing out yarn for a weaver and a crude piece rate system depending on pence per wharton. Brian Crawford
See also: weights and measures

The pulley or boss on a spindle that is driven by tape or belting. Brian Crawford
See also: belting; spindle (2)

Sewing the edges of the finished blanket together, usually with worsted thread. Also called overlocking or merrowing.
See also: worsted; overlocking; merrowing

A shorter and more common name for the willeying machine.
See also: willeying machine

The process of roughly opening out the bales of wool and removing some of the dirt and dust ('nips').
See also: nips

willeying machine
A machine for pulling apart and mixing the fibres of a blend of wool, ready for carding. Usually called the 'willey'.
See also: carding

Willow was used to make the baskets used to carry yarn to the looms.
See also: weft basket

winch dyeing
System of dyeing using a rope of fabric formed by stitching the two ends of a stockful together to form an endless loop. Winch dyeing machines were made in various sizes to hold one, two, three or four pieces. In 1949 all Early's winch dyeing machines were made of wood, greenheart was favoured but this was unobtainable after the Second World War. The wood picked up the dye vats used for dark shades, emerald green and scarlet had to be kept in the dark. The vats were heated to boiling point and injected with live steam.
See also: dyeing; stockful

Windrush, River
Tributary of the Thames flowing through Witney from its source in the Cotswolds. Most of the blanket mills were centred on or near the river for power and water.
See also: Cotswolds

On a loom, the wires are fixed to the healds. Each wire has an eye through which a weft thread is passed, and so moves the thread up or down as the healds move.
See also: loom; heald; weft; shedding

'Witnedown' was the trade name for blankets made by Smith and Philips' at Bridge Street and Crawley Mills. The labels had the tag line 'Witnedown blankets cover the world'. Phil Platt

Natural ingredient used in dyeing wool, giving a blue colour. Derived from the woad plant.
See also: dyeing

The natural fibre produced by a sheep, its fleece. Different parts of the fleece would have different qualities of wool. Phil Platt
See also: fleece (1)

wool oil
Oil added to raw wool to protect it during carding and improve its spinning qualities. The oil, often made from rapeseed, was sprayed on to the wool after willeying and finally removed from the woven cloth during fulling. The addition of soda ash during fulling transformed the oil into soap, which washed the blankets before being rinsed out.
See also: willeying; fulling; soda ash

Yarn spun from wools of various grades, and which is not classified as worsted.
See also: worsted

A fine yarn spun from long or combed wools.

Pieces of cloth woven from scrap or obsolete yarn used to wrap round finished stockfuls to keep them clean and hold the cuttled pile together. Wooden pointed skewers were used as fasteners on these wrappers.
See also: skewers

A spun thread.
See also: spinning

The natural grease in wool.