Textile Terms: “Mad as a Hatter”

In medieval times, people who made and dyed hats were called hatters. Most dyes require mordanting agents, made from heavy metals such as aluminum and tin. Hatters often came into contact with these solutions, which are known to cause serious mental problems. (We still hear about lead and arsenic poisoning today.) Gradually, other sanity challenged people came to be described as “Mad as a hatter.”

Textile Terms: the Shuttle

A shuttle is a device used in weaving to carry the woof (weft) yarn or thread back and forth between the warp threads. The key phrase here is back and forth. The more widely understood definition today, that of  a) Regular travel back and forth over an established, often short route by a vehicle, or b) A vehicle used in such travel: took the shuttle across town, derives directly from the name of this textile tool.

Below are pictured of a simple stick shuttle, the older variety, and the newer (invented in the 18th century) fly shuttle (or boat shuttle). Many other variations exist, but these are the two basic types.