The lifesaving scarf

Most of us don’t consider it often, but fabrics are amazing constructions.

Not wanting to be overly dramatic, but they save lives every day. That may sound silly, but we couldn’t live without them, particularly in extreme environments.

One nifty little piece of fabric design, which saved tens of thousands of lives, I leant about yesterday.

My knowledge of the World Wars was limited to Year 10 history and a few Biggles books, but wandering around the unbelievably beautiful Castle Howard yesterday I came upon a drawer.

This drawer contained a silk square that looked like a scarf.

The explanation was:

“In World War II, British pilots were often issued with silk maps showing enemy territory to help them escape if they were shot down. They could be hidden in small places like cigarette packets and hollowed out boot heels. Being silk they would not rustle and could survive getting wet.

Over 35,000 British and Allied troops who were imprisoned or cut off behind enemy lines did manage to escape to Allied territory before the end of the war, and it has been estimated that around half of them would have used a silk map.”




What a clever (and really beautiful) idea.

I’m off to visit some silk weaving factories around Suffolk tomorrow. Silk is such an amazing fibre and I’m looking forward to more in depth research into the more ethical and environmental sources of it.

Hopefully I can take more photos in the mills.


6 thoughts on “The lifesaving scarf

  1. So lovely. Be interested to see how you use this as inspiration in your designs. Speaking of which, when will your new collection be available?

    • I will be back in Australia in November so it will be available from the end of November both online and in-store if all goes to plan. I’m actually planning a new collection around a print and have been taking photos of everything from paintings to wallpapers to find the right print.

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