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Selecting, blending, carding, dyeing of the fibers and spinning of the yarns. Part 5

Updated: May 21

Expertise, tradition, care and good quality raw materials are all needed to ensure good yarns and good fabric. The wool used for suits nowadays is sold at auction to the different parties involved in the wool industry. The best-known auction is in Melbourne, Australia. The wool is then shipped by sea all over the world. Traditionally, Italy and England were the main countries for processing the fibres into yarns and finally fine cloths, but over recent decades China and Japan have outnumbered their European competitors.

There is still a massive industry in Europe, especially in the region of Huddersfield, England, although the sheep living there are not suitable for the current wool market (besides the 'Cheviot' breed). The river Tweed provided plenty of water for the mills to wash the fibres and clean the cloths before being finished. In Italy the region for the wool industry is Biella.

The wool fleeces are already cleaned in Australia to remove dirt, dust, sweat and wool grease. The wool grease is recovered to extract lanolin that can be used for cosmetics. This is done with an environmentally friendly detergent and water.

First, the fibres will be carded and blended. This process is only for masters, who are responsible for the constant quality of the final cloths. One might compare them with coffee baristas or even with the finest perfume blenders.

The preparation of the worsted yarn by straightening it out, washing and drying it again is finalised by a combing machine to remove shorter fibers and allow the long ones to go into making the better threads. These fibers are called worsted yarns and are less hairy.

The spinning and dyeing is usually done within the same company. To get a deep and lively colour, the best-known cloth merchants tend to dye the fibers before they are spun. Dormeuil, for example, uses this technique, which is obviously more expensive but which pays out in the quality of the cloth. Others merely dye the yarn or even the end fabric.

Spinning is a job that should be done with precaution. If the fibres are overstretched or the tension on the fibres is not consistent you will get a lower quality yarn.

The next step is to decide between the twisting or folding of the yarn. "Twisting' is turning the sliver into yarn by inserting twists which makes it easier to weave. 'Folding' is twisting two or more yarns together for a stronger thread. A highly twisted yarn tends to crease less but loses some of its sheen. A folded yarn improves the weaving of the cloth and also makes the fabric more durable. The Italians prefer light-weight suits: they tend to use only single yarns in the weft, giving a thinner but not a lasting quality. The English in most cases use two-fold (folded) yarns both in the warp and the weft •

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