Knit or woven cloth from the downy undercoat of the
cashmere goat, found mainly in
Kashmir, Tibet and Mongolia. The
hair is characterized by an exceptional silkiness and strength, so the cloth
produced from it is both soft and warm without being either heavy or coarse. The
supply of raw cashmere is stable and limited, while demand continues to grow. As
a result, cashmere cloth is decidedly expensive.
The name of the sheep (from the
Cheviot Hills that mark the boundary between England and Scotland), the wool,
and the cloth that comes from them. Characterized as sturdy and rugged, the
cloth has a slightly harsh and crisp hand. It is used mainly for cold-weather
suiting, sports jackets and overcoats.
Used first for women’s suiting
and now for men’s as well, the cloth is woven of highly twisted yarn, giving it
a pebbly hand and grainy appearance. It is very wrinkle resistant and, when
produced with fine woolen yarn, makes good warm-weather suiting.
The characteristic of flexibility
and suppleness in a fabric. Cloth that follows the bodily configurations nicely
is said to have good drape.
From the Welsh word for wool,
gwlanen< a soft, loosely woven woolen with a napped surface on both sides.
Today, flannel comes in a variety of weights—from eight to 15 ounces—and is
considered ideal for all suiting except summer wear; it is less formal in
appearance and more easily wrinkled than worsteds.
Short for “handle” (meaning to
feel), the quality or characteristic of fabric perceived by the sense of touch;
hand covers the tactile qualities of cloth.
Wool cloth in which the yarn has
been lightly twisted before being woven. This produces a springy, crisp,
wrinkle-resistant cloth that has a dry, pebbly hand. It drapes well and has been
taken up these past few years as lightweight men’s suiting. Sometimes called
“cool wool” and “high-performance” worsted.
The current and most scientific
method of grading wool. A micron is one millionth of a meter (.00004 of an
inch), and micron counts refer to the actual diameter of the wool’s fibers. The
two important points to remember are 1) the smaller the micron count, the finer
the fiber, and 2) in the “Super” labeling system, the higher the number, the
finer the cloth. Thus, Super 80s cloth has a micron count of 19.5, while Super
150s has a count of 15.5.
The narrow border or edge of the
cloth, attached when weaving to prevent unraveling. The trade name is usually
woven into the selvage and is a guarantee of the cloth’s quality.
Finer-worsted cloth resulting
from the weaving of fibers with a micron count of fewer than 20. At the moment,
Super 150s are the finest quality, but the clear direction of technology is to
make finer, lighter cloths all the time. Tweed:
Rough and hairy, tweeds (the most famous being Donegal,
Harris and Shetland, from their places of origin), were usually heavier cloth
(from 14 to 24 ounces) and used for cold-weather suiting, sports jackets and
topcoats. More recently, fabric houses such as Holland & Sherry and Dormeuil
have produced tweeds that have all the beautiful characteristics of the
traditional cloth but with less than one-third the weight. Dormeuil’s Sportex
tweed, originally woven at 20 ounces, is now produced at 12 ounces; Holland &
Sherry, whose original Shetlands weighed in at 14 ounces and more, now produce a
line at 11 ounces.
The smallest of a triumvirate of
South American llamas (llama, alpaca and vicuña, in order of size), vicuñas grow
what is considered the world’s most precious animal fiber. Each adult yields
only about eight ounces of usable undercoat in a fleece of amazing resilience,
strength, beauty and softness. Traditionally the vicuña was killed when sheared;
herds became so depopulated that the animal was put on the endangered species
list in the 1970s. Now a method has been found to shear the animal without harm,
and its numbers are growing. The vicuña is expected to prosper and be removed
from the list, and production of its beautiful cloth will soon resume.
Worsteds and Woolens:
The two basic types of
cloth woven from woolen yarns. Generally speaking (and there are always
exceptions), worsteds are smooth finished, tightly woven, strong and wrinkle
resistant (examples are serge, gabardine, tropical’s and high twists). Woolens
are more loosely woven, softer and have an unfinished, napped surface (such as
most flannels and tweeds).