Cloth thoughts

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Lady Cecily
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Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:01 pm

Slightly annoying that I can't remember the name of the author, but I was reading an article in the 1998 Nesat book at a friends house this morning which got me thinking.

The author was describing a large quantity of 12th century cloth from Bergen, Norway as shiney dark worsted wool and identified it as probabaly originiating in England. I have no problem with the interpretion (sound scolarly article) - but................ it got me thinking. Why as re-enactors don't we use worsted suiting to make kit from? Is it that we would look too much like men/women in modern business suits? Any thoughts out there?


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby chrisanson » Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:49 pm

Lady Cecily wrote:Slightly annoying that I can't remember the name of the author, but I was reading an article in the 1998 Nesat book at a friends house this morning which got me thinking.

The author was describing a large quantity of 12th century cloth from Bergen, Norway as shiney dark worsted wool and identified it as probabaly originiating in England. I have no problem with the interpretion (sound scolarly article) - but................ it got me thinking. Why as re-enactors don't we use worsted suiting to make kit from? Is it that we would look too much like men/women in modern business suits? Any thoughts out there?



Here we go - yet another cliche about the middle ages has emerged. :devil:










sorry 8-)



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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:28 pm

chrisanson wrote:
Lady Cecily wrote:Slightly annoying that I can't remember the name of the author, but I was reading an article in the 1998 Nesat book at a friends house this morning which got me thinking.

The author was describing a large quantity of 12th century cloth from Bergen, Norway as shiney dark worsted wool and identified it as probabaly originiating in England. I have no problem with the interpretion (sound scolarly article) - but................ it got me thinking. Why as re-enactors don't we use worsted suiting to make kit from? Is it that we would look too much like men/women in modern business suits? Any thoughts out there?



Here we go - yet another cliche about the middle ages has emerged. :devil:


Get back to your shed. :twisted:


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby chrisanson » Sun Dec 13, 2009 7:07 pm

Lady Cecily wrote:
chrisanson wrote:
Lady Cecily wrote:Slightly annoying that I can't remember the name of the author, but I was reading an article in the 1998 Nesat book at a friends house this morning which got me thinking.

The author was describing a large quantity of 12th century cloth from Bergen, Norway as shiney dark worsted wool and identified it as probabaly originiating in England. I have no problem with the interpretion (sound scolarly article) - but................ it got me thinking. Why as re-enactors don't we use worsted suiting to make kit from? Is it that we would look too much like men/women in modern business suits? Any thoughts out there?



Here we go - yet another cliche about the middle ages has emerged. :devil:


Get back to your shed. :twisted:



ok. sorry :wasntme:



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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:22 pm

chrisanson wrote:
Lady Cecily wrote:
Get back to your shed. :twisted:



ok. sorry :wasntme:



:D Nice to see a man who know's his place. 8-)


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What is worsted

Postby frances » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:27 pm

I've been to the place called Worstead, which is in Norfolk. As I recall it has a huge, absolutely huge, church for such a diddy little place. Shows how rich the wool people were in them days and how much they wanted to impress the local peasants with their money. The village had become a centre for the manufacture of wool yarn and cloth after weavers from Flanders (Belgium) arrived in Norfolk in the 12th century.

I'll leave it to the cloth experts to say what the worsted process of weaving is.



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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:42 pm

The essential qualities of worsted are long staple wool woven into very smooth (often shiney) cloth. It's most common use today is suiting. It's hardwearing and very durable. What surprised me was the description of the archaeological textiles as 'shiney'. I have a feeling if we showed up at event with tunics or doublets made out of the same stuff as we make Armani suits from - there would be questions asked.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Tuppence » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:05 pm

worsted doesn't necessarily mean suiting - there are loads of versions of it.

and shiny could mean a satin weave.


which all proves that written descriptions of cloth are generally vague and not of much help unless they're more specific.


oh, and to answerr the why question, because many (if not most) of the british finds of fabric fragments aren't worsted - they're a tabby or twill weave wool.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Attilla the Bun » Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:38 pm

I thought the term 'worsted' was to do with the preparation of thread - that it's combed rather than carded, (or in modern thread, presumably carded then combed) so that all the fibres lie parallel (whether long or short staple) and you get a stronger, smoother but harder thread.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:11 pm

Yes Attila the smoothness is to do with straightening the fibres and fulling the cloth post weaving. I shall have to check when I get home - but I think there are more examples of worsted cloth found than tuppence thinks there are. Also - the weave has nothing to do with the type of cloth - worsted can be tabby and twill woven.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Tuppence » Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:41 pm

sorry - should have said aren't worsted of the type you mentioned, i.e. suiting type fabrics*, which are largely a modern invention.

sad fact today is that most of the older type of worsted are simply no longer made, unless you're willing to pay £40+ per metre. most re-enactors seem to balk at paying £7 per m.

Find me a specimen that extrapolates out to a modern weight of 150 - 200 gsm, and I might change my mind.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Tuppence » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:02 pm

And forgot to mention that the appearance of clothing in most pictures negates the use of modern (meaning post industrial) worsted suitings.

A decent knowledge of fabric drape and hand indicates that the clothes would hang completely differently were it suiting.




that said, worsted in it's heavier forms could well be used - some of the worsted fabrics that hainsworths produce have a subtle shine to them (not all - just because something's worsted, doesn't mean it's shiny, hence my earlier suggestion that perhaps they were referring to a satin weave worsted).


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:35 pm

Tuppence wrote:sorry - should have said aren't worsted of the type you mentioned, i.e. suiting type fabrics*, which are largely a modern invention.

sad fact today is that most of the older type of worsted are simply no longer made, unless you're willing to pay £40+ per metre. most re-enactors seem to balk at paying £7 per m.

Find me a specimen that extrapolates out to a modern weight of 150 - 200 gsm, and I might change my mind.


I agree - I did think the drape would be weird. We're getting dagerously close to thread counts here - what would the weight you mention above be?


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Alice the Huswyf » Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:30 pm

I have counted the threads on worsted cloths.

So far 1 - this one. MORE PEPSI!


Is it 'coz I is middewl clarse, aih?

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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Lady Cecily » Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:08 pm

Alice the Huswyf wrote:I have counted the threads on worsted cloths.

So far 1 - this one. MORE PEPSI!


:roll: Calm down dear - it's only a couple of geeks :roll: I plan on hitting the textile reports - just as soon as I get rid of this sodding cold and can actually read again.


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Alice the Huswyf » Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:33 pm

No - I am full of flu vaccine and activity - you lot just talked about it - I counted! (Now where did I put that catnip inhaler?)


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Colin Middleton
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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:48 pm

Tuppence wrote:unless you're willing to pay £40+ per metre. most re-enactors seem to balk at paying £7 per m.


I think that you hit the nail on the head there tuppence!

Sigh, I guess I need to start saving up again for posher cloth...


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Re: Cloth thoughts

Postby guthrie » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:24 am

I just want nice fabric, I'm now geeky enough to pay £40 a metre, although I havn't yet. My policy of playing 'middle class' seems to help.



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wool cloth sales

Postby frances » Wed Dec 16, 2009 12:34 am

I have the cheaper end of wool. Most are a mixture wool with something to enable it to be washed and make it longer-lasting. I even have one with lycra in it.
Some are heavier coat weight, and some more suitable for shawls.




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