What is worsted wool?
Worsted wool is a high-quality wool that has a smooth and fine surface. Worsted wool got its name from ‘Worstead’, a small English village in the country of Norfolk. Norfolk village along with North Walsham and Aylsham was the center for wool manufacturing in the twelfth century. This was because the East Anglian soil was very rich for the older agrarian sheep breeds and also many weavers from the County of Flanders moved to Norfolk.
Until the nineteenth-century worsted cloth was known as stuff, this was mainly to differentiate it from the woolen fabric. Worsted wool is manufactured from the long-staple pasture wool. The long-staple wool is obtained from sheep breeds such as Teeswaters, Old Leicester Longwool, and Romney Marsh. Compared to the woolen fabric which is fuzzier and not smooth, the worsted fabric is much stronger, finer, and smoother. The fabric made from worsted wool is very resilient which means that it always returns to its natural shape. Obviously, this is just what we want with men’s suiting. When we sit down at a meeting or drive to work, we want our suit to go back to its natural drape and not be prone to wrinkling. Fabric made from worsted wool is used in making tailored garments such as suits, dresses, crepes, etc.
Raw wool comprises both long and short fibers. To untangle the wool fibers and lays them straight, the raw wool is carded. This mechanical process of removal of disentangling the fibers and mixing them is known as carding. This is similar to brushing the fibers in two directions at the same time with stiff brushes. After this, the combing process of wool is done to remove all the little short fibers. Then the leftover longer fibers are aligned parallel with the help of a gilling machine. This results in overlapped and untwisted wool strands which are called silvers. The by-product after this process is collected and mixed with woolen wool. The carded wool is then spun into yarns and then woven into the fabric. Worsted wool is expensive as compared to woolen fabrics, because of this time consuming and complex process of manufacturing worsted wool.