Candlewick, Camberwick, cambric…

I was writing about past times, as I so often do, and was commenting on the fact that these days most people have duvets whereas in the past most people would have sheets,blankets, eiderdowns and bedspreads. I was trying to remember the particular sort of fabric often used for spreads.

I half-remembered it was called candlewick and so looked it up – and yes there is a fabric called candlewick which was used not just for bedding cushions and also dressing gowns. I guess these days candlewick (if it’s still used!) might be made from artificial materials, but originally it would have been cotton or muslin which was looped and then cut to make tufts.

So that’s candlewick… I had half-thought it might be Camberwick, but of course that was a children’s TV series; Camberwick Green was a small village inhabited by puppet characters such as Windy Miller. When I looked it up I was offered cambric as an alternative, but that’s a fabric – completely different from candlewick. Cambric is a very plain linen which originally came from Cambrai which is now in France.

I did discover that candlewick is also –

  •  the wick of a candle,
  •  a ward in London, one of the 25 ancient wards in the City of London
  • a character from the book The Adventures of Pinocchio usually known as Lampwick
  • and a Massachusetts publisher

I think candlewick may feature in my 1950’s story, which is my next project!


      1. Lois

        We did had some which were pre-war (they still had grandma’s laundry marks on the labels – they had a pub so heavy washing was sent to a laundry) they are quite scratchy, but smoothed with age now… but the ones on our beds were a cream wool – and I picked all the fluff off mine so it was just bald threads


      2. Lois

        It must have been a natural fibre – it was only the beginning of the nylon revolution (that sounds like the name of a band, Nylon Revolution!!) I’ve just looked up satin and the shininess is created by the weave, “four or more fill or weft yarns floating over a warp yarn” – it’s all to do with floating wefts… apparently… It was silk originally.


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