Textiles have an incredible power to talk to us, if we can hear them. They comfort and console us, create memories, define who we are and what we might believe in. Textiles are a detective story you can hold. Haptic and Hue’s Tales of Textiles, hosted by handweaver, Jo Andrews, are an invitation to explore a world of colour and touch.


The third series of Haptic and Hue’s Tales of Textiles is here. This season is called The Chatter of Cloth, and each of the eight episodes takes a single cloth as its starting point and unravels its story from there. These fabrics tell of political events, great empires and kingdoms, long journeys of discovery, and stories of family and community.


If you would like to sign up for news and links to the podcasts as they are released, and for a chance to win the gifts we give away with each episode, please use the form at the foot of this page. If you are interested in the books that relate to each episode, or just the best books about textiles, you can find them in our new Haptic & Hue Bookshop – perfect for birthdays and celebrations! The piece on Haberdashery and why it’s important to us – along with a list of the world’s best-remaining haberdasheries, is on Vocal at

Episode #19: The United Nations of Cloth

Jo Andrews


In the West of England lies an old house that is a quiet treasure chest of textiles. The man who has built up this astonishing United Nations of cloth is using them to change the way all of us value and understand textiles. Over many years Karun Thakar has created a collection of handmade textiles from Africa, Asia, and Europe. Some of these fabrics would have been the height of fashion in their day, destined for trade, but others are humble, domestic miracles telling tales of hardship and struggle, often outlining the difficult lives of the women who made and repaired them.

Episode #18: Introduction to The Chatter of Cloth

Jo Andrews


Welcome to the third season of Haptic and Hue’s Tales of Textiles. This series is called The Chatter of Cloth and each of the eight episodes starts with a specific piece of fabric and tracks its tale. This introduction sets the context for the season and provides a guide to what is in store. Textiles have been called a detective story that you can hold. Here are eight small detective stories for those of us who can hear what textiles have to tell us about great events, extraordinary kingdoms and empires of the past, or just about a village or our own families.

Episode #17: A Feeling of Nostalgia

Jo Andrews


There is one kind of fabric that seems to induce a powerful sense of nostalgia in many of us, and that’s the cloth that covers the seats and benches of public transport systems around the world. We take it for granted and yet it turns out to have a strong hold on our affections.

Episode #16: A Feeling of Belonging

Jo Andrews


Cloth is more than something useful or beautiful, it also has enormous power. We are surrounded by fabrics of meaning and belonging, fabrics that tell us who people are and where they come from if they share a nation, a clan, a school, or a religion with us.

Episode #15: A Feeling of  Wealth

Jo Andrews


Cloth and wealth have gone hand in glove for much of history: where there are textiles then there has almost always been money, and often lots of it. The Medicis of Florence started life as wool traders in Tuscany before they became bankers, popes, princes, and queens.  Wool, mostly British wool, started them on a journey that saw them become the principal financiers of the Florentine Renaissance, they were the backers of almost everyone who mattered including Michaelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Raphael, Machiavelli, and Galileo, and they weren’t the only ones.

Episode #14: A Feeling of  Sorrow

Jo Andrews


Sorrow is a universal human experience – whether it’s for a loved family member, for a way of life that once was, or for events that engulf nations and sweep away millions. The episode looks at how textiles are an essential part of the process of grieving, and how they bring us comfort and help us deal with deeply felt emotions.

Episode #13: A Feeling of  Warmth

Jo Andrews


Unravelling the journey that fleece takes from the fells to fabric. This episode tracks how greasy wool bred in the wind and rain of a Lake District Farm becomes a smartly tailored jacket, a beautifully knitted pullover or a lace weight shawl, fine enough to pull through a wedding ring.

Episode #12: A Feeling of  Resilience

Jo Andrews


Repairing Cloth and Mending Souls. On the face of it repairing and reinforcing textiles simply prolongs the life of our clothes and helps minimise textile waste, things worth having – but for many, it also delivers much more than that. The French sculptor, Louise Bourgeois said: ‘The act of sewing is a process of emotional repair’, it helps to centre us, and tells us stories about ourselves and the resilience of our families and communities.

Episode #11: A Feeling of Transformation: Part 2 – Preparation

Jo Andrews


Is costume design magic or camouflage? The second part of A Feeling of Transformation looks at the enormous heart and skill that goes into getting costumes right for screen and stage. Find out how costume designers look at textiles and fabric with a different eye.

Episode #10: A Feeling of Transformation: Part 1 – Performance

Jo Andrews


Do clothes conceal us or reveal us? Listen to how actors use clothes to make stories believable. Alessandro Nivola and Emily Mortimer, who have played a huge variety of roles between them, from mobsters to Tudor ladies in waiting, from Regency bucks to flower sellers, talk about why costume is so important to them.

Episode #9: A Feeling of Comfort

Jo Andrews


There is nowhere in the world quite like Gee’s Bend, Alabama with the story of how its quilt-makers were acclaimed as artists, and their work bought by galleries and museums around the world. Necessity is the mother of invention and this is particularly true in this small community, where for generations women have created quilts to keep out the cold and provide comfort for their families.

Episode #8: Introduction to Series 2

Jo Andrews


The new season of Haptic and Hue’s Tales of Textiles explores the way in which we use textiles to express our feelings. Each episode will focus on a different feeling from Comfort to Sorrow, Pain to Joy. Come armchair travelling with Haptic and Hue and unravel new stories about the central role cloth of all kinds plays in our lives.

Episode #7: Majesty and Mannequins

Jo Andrews


Catch her out of the corner of your eye as she skitters across the stage of history. She has seen revolutions, war, disaster, pandemics, peace and joy, and survived it all. She is probably 3,500 years old, maybe more. She is called Pandora.

This episode looks at the unseen role miniature mannequins, or Pandora figures, have played in diplomacy, war, royalty, communications, and marketing, down the centuries from the time of the Egyptian pharaohs, through the Second World War, until today. Not bad to have been in fashion for several thousand years.

Episode #6: Making Men

Jo Andrews


Sewing, mending, knitting and all the fibre skills are seen as ‘Women’s Work’ in Western cultures. Why is this? We hear from men who were taught to sew and knit in wartime, in prison or in isolation, and we talk to men who freely choose to stitch, knit and spin as a hobby. What are the barriers men face if they take up these skills and what does the world lose if they don’t? This episode looks not just at the gender divide of the West but also thinks about the fabric traditions of Africa where men are deeply involved in textile production.

Episode #5: Yarn Yarn Yarn

Jo Andrews


This episode tells the story of the top designer of fabrics to the French fashion industry. It looks at the way in which a modern supplier, competing in a global market, still uses ancient weaving technology with handweavers working on table looms to produce thousands of fresh designs every year.

Episode #4: Stitches in Time

Jo Andrews


The Haute Couture embroiderers of Paris are amongst Europe’s most celebrated and skilled needlewomen. This episode looks at the artisans who sit behind the seams of the garments we see on the catwalks and in the fashion magazines. It tracks the history of haute couture and thinks about how it is changing in response to modern tastes and trends.

Episode #3: A Weaver’s Tale

Jo Andrews


What does it mean to earn your living as a maker? Can you feed yourself? This episode looks at the renowned hand-weaver, Janet Phillips, who has done just that for more than 50 years. It celebrates her half-century at the loom and asks what it takes to achieve this.

Episode #2: Material Women

Jo Andrews


The story of the elegant, crisp and artistic textile designs that burst upon the world in the 1950s. It looks at the women who created the Mid-Century Modern fabrics and in doing so became part of the first cohort of women to dominate any field of design. It thinks about how these fabrics transcended their function and became symbols of peace and better times.


Episode #1: Colour is Mine

Jo Andrews


Britain’s first black designer of international standing was a magician of colour. The Queen wore her dress fabrics, cruise liners sailed with her murals on their walls and millions of homes used her designs, but few can remember her name. Find out who she was and why she matters.

Episode #0: Introduction to Series One

Jo Andrews


History is full of the sound of spindles, the clatter of mills and the reek of dye baths as the knowledge of how to make beautiful fabrics has been gathered around the world. This episode introduces Haptic and Hue’s first series of podcasts and starts to uncover some of the buried tales of textiles.

Images from Haptic and Hue’s first podcast series – Tales of Textiles


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