Posted by: ramblinrobert | April 22, 2008

More textiles industry in Paisley (picture added)

After the Paisley Museum, we made two more stops in Paisley related to textiles. We had lunch at the Sma’ Shot Cottage, a restored weavers cottage. (A “sma’ shot” is a technical weaving term I won’t explain here.) Not all weaving was done with the complicated Jacquard looms. The Paisley weaving industry got its start literally as a cottage industry. Typically, a small cottage would be built with two rooms on either side of a walkway thru the cottage. One room held two looms (most likely four-harness counterbalanced looms if there are any weaving nerds reading this), one for the weaver and one for the weaver’s apprentice. Supplies were stored in the rafters above the looms. The weaver’s family lived in the other room. The cottage we saw had a room the size of my dining room with a stove for cooking and beds for the family to sleep. The family might have five or more people. The husband and wife shared one small bed and the children shared another. If more space was needed, a trundle bed could be pulled out. Things have changed, fortunately. I feel fortunate to have all the space I have to live in, not to mention a refrigerator to keep food and indoor plumbing for a bathroom.

Our next stop was a thread mill. Some of the spun yarn was not used in weaving, but was spun and dyed for thread. This mill was more recent and we were given small group tours of the factory museum by a group of elderly ladies who had worked in the mill at one time. This was as sweet a group of ladies as you could ask for, well dressed with tea and biscuits prepared for our tour group. My small group’s guide was Nessie Burns, a charming white-haired woman who reminded me of my great aunt Mabel, a very special lady to my sisters and me when we were growing up. Nessie began working in the mill when she was 16 and was a bobbin winder.


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