Cheese Boxes & Wonky Veg!

March 4th, 2024

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It was a sell out event for our latest Weaving Voices with Alison Wibmer.  Alison led us through a box of yarn and fabric samples discovered in the Sunny Bank Mills Museum & Archive dating back to 1942-1945.

Alison was part of the volunteer team who cleaned and catalogued the samples which  were dubbed the ‘Wonky Veg’ and the ‘Cheese Box’ samples, due to their resemblance to a selection of wonky root vegetables and having been found in an old Primula Cheese cardboard box.

Alison has also explored the wider context of the samples as part of her PhD studies and research.


The box of samples included examples of the mill experimenting with wool fibre blends, incorporating man- made fibres which were ground- breaking at the time.

Alison explained to us how the textile industry has always had to adapt and react to changes in the social, economic and environmental landscape, balancing resource availability, financial viability and consumer needs. Such constraints have propelled textile innovations in the past, such as the development and commercialisation of synthetic and manufactured fibres in the early 1900s, and are now fuelling the drive for a more sustainable textile industry.

Through the story of these unique archive samples, we explored the wider societal and cultural context that drove these innovations, and the complexities of putting these changes into practice.

Bringing the topic into the current textile landscape, Alison also talked us through how the textile industry is adapting today, in particular to meet urgent demands for more sustainable technologies, and explore emerging research into the fibres and yarns that we may see more of in the years to come.


Many thanks to Alison for being our guide through this fascinating look at textile innovations of the past and how they may inform the future.

If you missed this event, but would like to attend some of the other ‘Weaving Voices’ events be sure to visit the Collection at Eventbrite here where you can book tickets.  We now have all speakers confirmed to 25th May, with just our closing exhibition to be announced.   So whether you want to find out more about the Archives and how paper conservation, how it has been the inspiration for ceramics and its relevance to dyeing both historically and materially, watch this space!

We would like to thank National Lottery Heritage Fund for making this series of events possible.

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