Most of us have seen the need for comfort blankets first hand, and if we haven’t, Schulz’s long-running Charlie Brown cartoon with Linus and his blanket as a ubiquitous reminder of the power of textiles to give security and comfort.
Much of the time we take textiles for granted: we wear them, wash-up with them, draw them as curtains at night, sleep in them, warm and dry ourselves, sit on them, and we protect ourselves in different ways with them, from firefighters to surgeons. They are everywhere and not a day goes past when we don’t feel them and the different textures they have, although this haptic sense of touch is usually an unremarked part of our everyday experience.
But for children the need for a particular piece of cloth can be intense, only that one will do and life is all but impossible without it. Alice – for whom Rugga was a vital companion in childhood – is now a mother herself, and Rugga is, these days, a thin piece of tasselled cotton with holes in, but still carries an emotional charge for Alice: