Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On tenterhooks......

Ever wondered where the phrase 'on tenterhooks' comes from? Once woollen cloth has been woven it needs to have the natural oils present in wool washed out.  After the cloth has been washed it needs to be stretched over a frame so that the cloth dries straightened, uncreased, in a uniform fashion: ie so that the width of the cloth is consistent throughout its length. In times gone by, it would have been a common sight in areas where woollen cloth was produced to see fields full of the wooden ''tenter' frames with wet cloth stretched and held in place by the metal hooks, drying in the air.

I took these pictures a little while ago at the National Wool Museum in Wales: a fabulous illustration of this principle which greets visitors as they arrive.

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