The Woollen Thread (1883) by Charles Vickerman

The following is the OCR text of a book and will likely contain conversion errors. This page is designed to be indexed by search engines. Click on a page number to view the book in your web browser.

The text is believed to be in the Public Domain.

Page 2

SYKES & SONS Turnbridse Machine Works,

Page 3

> Ales: Makers and Patentees of



Page 7


Page 9


Page 10


and I will add to the heap by saying what I think man is from a manufacturing point of view, and that is, that

Page 11


curious lake dwellings, so vividly brought before us lately of the Gilchrist Lectures. Wherever we find human remains, there we also find that docile friend of man, the sheep, the patches or fragments of woollen clothing, and we have every reason to conclude that the Woollen Manufacture is the most ancient of all our Textile Manufactures, and that it was the earliest to which machinery was applied. The book of Job is probably the oldest piece of writing at present in existence, and from it we learn that textile fabrics were then in use, for he says, when complaining of his sad estate, ‘‘ My days are swifter than a Weaver’s and then again, listen to his touching appeal in which he says

Page 12


many claimants. When Homer had risen to distinc- tion, and was an honour to himself, straightway many _ cities of Greece put forward claims to having been his birthplace. But in whichever way we settle the con- flicting claims of the Ancients to the invention of Spinning and Weaving, one thing is certain that at a very early period of history the Babylonians had attained to great excellence of design, and fabric, in their cloth manufacture. No wonder that that grabbing avarici- ous Achan of yore, amid the spoils of the fall of Jericho, had the cupidity of his nature set on fire, and his better judgement carried away captive, for we read that when he saw amongst the spoils a goodly Baby- lonish garment, in all its richness and gorgeous beauty, he

Page 13


some idea of the profusion of art and design to which they had attained. Professor Rawlinson says that in their costume they wore long purple or flowered robes with loose hanging sleeves, flowered tunics reaching down to the knee, also sleeved embroidered trousers and tiaras, shoes of elegant shape, under the trousers they wore drawers, and under their tunics, shirts. In their houses their couches were spread with gorgeous coverlets, and their floors with rich carpets —habits that must have necessitated an immense labour and skill, and great knowledge in the manu- facture of Textile fabrics. It would appear that our advancement in these modern times, and advantage over the Ancients, is not so much in the direction of quality as in that of quantity. But onward the wave _ rolled westward, and by a strange irony of fate the City of Babylon, the great city of merchants and manufacturers, became desolate, and the very site

Page 14


Suffice it to say that when Julius Cesar invaded our Island with his Roman Legions, he found the inhabi- tants of the southern portion of our Island well acquainted with the Spinning and Weaving of both flax and wool. Two kinds of cloth were manufac- tured at this period, and both were highly prized by the invaders—one a thick harsh cloth which was worn as a sort of mantle, the other of finer wool, dyed different colours, and woven chequered, after the manner of our Highland Tartans. Pliny says the Ancient Britons had a method of dyeing purple, scarlet, blue, and many other colours, with certain herbs. One plant they used freely for dyeing purposes, and that was the glastum or woad plant, and they appear to have readily picked up the dyeing of many colours, but more especially the blue, from their former use of these plants in the staining of their bodies.

But the Woollen Manufacture does not appear to have been diffused over the northern portion of our land prior to the Roman invasion. Wherever the

Page 15

about one hundred years after the conquest of the country. Thus this manufacture was established, and gradually spread Northwards with varying fortune until the break up of the Roman Empire, of which event we were the first to feel the effects, as the crumbling Roman power first drew in its outposts. On the departure of the Romans the woollen manufacture suffered greatly.- Woollen garments entered largely into the attire of the Roman people, male and female, of every rank. The fall of the Empire brought temporary ruin upon all the arts of civilized life, and the art of the woollen manu- facture took refuge in the Low Countries (now Holland and Belgium) where it conferred opulence and great consideration on the people engaged in it for hundreds of years, till about the roth century it had regained much of its former prosperity. After the Romans came the Saxons, who when they first appeared on our coasts were a very rude, uncultured, uncivilized race, and under the early rule of this people the woollen manufacture became almost extinct, as well as every other art and manufacture established by the Romans. After a time however the Saxons fused gradually with the original inhabitants, and wisely assimulated themselves to a civilization much superior to their own, and inbibed a great portion of what remained of that which was purely Roman. With the uniting of the petty kingdoms of the Heptarchy, there came a more settled state of society, and there revived the desire for elegance in dress, and

Page 16


the woollen manutacture again improved and became

Page 18


industrial arts, as well as of learning, during the dark stormy scenes of the middle ages, when society was as it were on its trial for life. With William the Conquerer came a large influx of Flemish and Norman weavers who settled in various parts of England, many in the neighbourhood of Norwich, and so much was their dexterity admired that one quaint old author says, “the art of weaving seemed to be a peculiar gift bestowed upon them by nature.” the Flemings and Normans were proverbial for their love of dress, a new impulse was imparted to the manufacture of wool, and from this period sheep farming and the growth of wool becomes a great item in the national wealth. The old historian, Matthew of Westminster, says of this period that “ all the nations of the world are kept warm by the wool of England, made into cloth by the men of Flanders.” Some authorities even go so far as to say that half the wealth of the kingdom at this period was in wool. The early history of England was almost entirely pastoral. Down to a comparatively recent period England was a great grazing country, and wool was its principal staple. The old historian, Matthew of Paris, wrote, ‘‘ The

Page 20


sorely tried by these refractory Barons, and his previous forbearance sadly unappreciated, and some of his most statesmanlike measures had been stoutly opposed. Only the year previous to this untoward incident he had summoned the first Parliament in English History on the model of our present Parliaments, according to the Commons the right to meet, and sit, and vote along with the Barons and the Bishops, but like most people that indulge in highly-seasoned luxuries, the indulgence in war by these monarchs of late involved them in difficulties about the payment of their little bills. But apart from a little too much fondness for war and military glory, these old Plantagenet kings were grand men, men of splendid grit, fine commanding presence, of statesmanlike breadth of view and intellect, and of dauntless valour, having all the dash of the Norman, the cool steadiness of the Saxon, and the doggedness of the early Briton. In 1338, Edward III, took a fifteenth of all the

Page 22


thread wheel was in use in India long anterior to this date, but we have no reliable information. The one- thread spinning wheel may be best described by pointing to the hand-loom weavers’ bobbing wheel, though in the more wealthy homesteads of the land, more ornamental wheels were in use. We must not allow ourselves to fall into the error of thinking that there have been no clever people in the world before our day—there were clever people in those days, especially amongst the ladies. It is recorded in the transactions of the Royal Society that a Norfolk lady of the name of Mary Pringle earned the notice of the Royal Society, by Spinning a pound of wool into 84,000 yards (being nearly 48 miles) this clever feat was far suppassed by the achievements of a Lincolnshire spinster, a Miss Ives, of Spalding, who spun a pound of wool into 168,000 yards, or

Page 23

17 Henry VIII., of the name of John Witcomb, had 200 maidens under one roof spinning wool.

Page 24


from the rim to the spindle was running open, the twine of yarn thus produced was called “ openband,”’ and when the band was running crossed between the rim and spindle, then yarn produced was naturally called ‘‘crossband”’ twine. I have no diagram of the one-thread

Page 25


the principle has been found incapable of improvement up to the present day, only the mechanical detail has been improved. Ten years after, again, or in 1779, Samuel Crompton, of Bolton, combined the best part of Hargreave’s Jenny, the spindle frame, and made it moveable with the best part of Arkwright’s Throstle Frame, the rollers, and thus brought out the Spinning Mule, which was ultimately made self-acting by Richard Roberts, of Manchester, whose

Page 26


Writing on the subject of the introduction of Machine Carding into the West Riding, Mr. J. Hall, of Britannia Mills, Leeds, says in the Leeds Mercury, September

Page 27


and dish or by cylinder carding. The roller and dish process was the first step towards cylinder carding. A wooden roller, covered with wire teeth was turned by some one, and the wool was laid by another person upon the roller as it revolved, underneath was a concave

Page 28


patented by R. Arkwright, No. 931, date 1769. This was turned by hand power, and it has no resemblance to the scribbling machines of our day. At that time it was considered to be the height of perfection. John Lees, a Quaker, of Manchester, invented the ‘apron feed, or server. The other improvements followed by adding the doffer, then worker on the top of the cylinder, then a stripper, until we see how the present scribbling machine has been extended from one cylinder to four, and dofters, workers, strippers, and fancies have been added to bring it to the perfection it is at present.

Page 29


us that they are pretty much alike in their chemical constitution, and with certain variations, are capable of being coloured by the same dyeing ingredients. Then again, though much alike in the main, they are yet characterized amongst themselves by points of difference. For instance, hair is distinguished from wool proper by its straightness and stiffness, and again, on the other hand, fur is distinguished from wool by its greater softness and fineness. Further again, all the animal downs differ essentially from the vegetable downs in possessing in a greater or lesser degree the power of-felting or milling, which vegetable fibres, such as cotton or flax, do not—the writer has known an instance where even the hair of a dog was felted, and has himself frequently used camel hair, mohair, alpaca and vicuna in the production of fancy cloths, and found them to mill or felt readily, some of them more quickly than the wool with which they were mixed. Though it would be very interesting to trace out the various peculiarities of these animal downs, we must content ourselves by remarking that the growth of the animal downs is from the root and not from the top as it is in vegetable fibres. The animal down grows by the lower portion nearest the root, lengthening out and projecting the top portion forwards, and when the top is once cut it never again assumes its tapering Hoggety point. Though in commerce the term wool is applied

Page 30


tion, yet that cylindrical form varies with the climate. A cross section of a hair of wool, if strictly circular denotes that it has been grown in acold northern climate, and is lank, long, and soft; but if the cross

Page 31


top of the staple first, and finishing at the root end, instead of passing softly and sweetly through, there is a perceptible degree of grating, roughness, friction, and tremulous sensation given off to a sensitive touch. This peculiarity lays at the foundation of all our milling or felting property in wool, and is the cause of all the shrinking in our flannels and hosiery, and other articles made of wool or other animal down. Although the practical fact of the felting property of animal downs has been known for many thousands _ of years, yet the principle on which it is based is only of recent discovery, in the full light of which we have it now. Some 38 years ago, or about the year 1853, Mr. William Youatt, the great writer on the horse and the sheep, commenced a series of microscopic examinations of the fibre or hair of wool, under a powerful microscope, ably assisted by Mr. Powell, the optician, and though the roughness and friction of the wool fibre had been known for thousands of years, and the friction had been overcome for carding and spinning purposes, by the application of olive or other oils, yet we knew little or nothing of the causes of the friction, &c. Mr. Youatt revealed to us the cause of this friction and roughnes, which we have had long to overcome by sprinkling the fibre with oil. Mr. Youatt found that round the stem of every hair of wool there grew a very large number of jagyered imbricated rings, or rather I should say scale rings, but so minute as to require a very powerful microscope to discern them. These scale rings cover thickly every fibre of animal down, whether wool, hair, or fur, and the

Page 32


rings that encircle every individual stem follow each other in such close succession as to cause the scales to overlap each other, after the manner in which we see slates overlap each other upon the roof of a house, or perhaps it would be nearer the exact fact, if I were to say after the manner of the scales upon a fish’s back, the scales being attached to the stem only at the base, leaving the point of the scale free, and jutting out in the direction of the point of the staple, and hence the roughness that we felt in drawing the staple through our finger and thumb backwards from the point of the staple to the root, because in so doing, we encounter the points ofthe scales. Mr. Youatt found as many as 2,400 of these scales to an inch of wool fibre upon a sample of fine merino, but the number has since been found to be very much higher, over 4,000 in some instances of fine Saxony wools (See Fig. 5). The long, course Leicester and Lincoln wools (See Fig. 4) don’t shew half the number of scales that are found on fine Saxony wools, but the coarsest wools don’t show less than 1,000 of the scales per inch. None of the vegetable downs, such as cotton and flax, have any of these encircling scale rings, and hence cotton and linen goods never shrink or run up in the washing as woollen goods do. The fact is that the cause of that, till recently, very mysterious and very curious process called felting, fulling, milling, shrinking, thickening, solidifying, or whatever other name we choose to designate the process by, I say the underlying cause or foundation of this very curious and very interesting process is the presence of these scale rings, of which I shall have more

Page 33


to say when I come to speak of the use of the woollen thread. Commercially speaking wools are divided into two great classes—Clothing Wools and Combing Wools, or Short Wools and Long Wools, and the fabrics woven from them were termed woollens or worsteds, according as one or the other was employed. But we can no longer draw the line in this way between the two great branches of the wool industry, for wools that are called Combing Wools are now very frequently used for woollen goods, and wools that are sold as Clothing Wools are frequently used for combing. Formerly long wools only could be combed when combing had to be done by hand, but since the successive improvements of the combing machine by Donisthorpe, Lister, Heilmann, Noble, and Holden, any free, firm stapled clothing wool of

Page 34


I will approach the consideration structure of the woollen thread from the negative side, and show, first, what the woollen thread is not, that we are not entitled to call any thread we can manipulate out of wool a woollen thread in certain senses, because a worsted thread is made of wool, and yet we don’t call it a woollen thread ; we very properly call it what it is, a worsted thread. We must designate yarns according to the modes in which they have been produced. But some at this point may now be ready to ask what isa a worsted thread and what is a woollen thread, as you say the distinction is not in the wool? I will try to answer both these questions, and in order that we may realize to our own minds more distinctly the difference in question, I will first show as rapidly as I can what the woollen thread is not, that we may see more clearly what

Page 35


Let us proceed, then, with that portion of wool that is intended for manufacturing into worsted, in order to show in the first place what a woollen thread in Not, and then afterwards point out by contrast, and more in detail, what a woollen thread is. The first operation is sorting the wool into two or more qualities and taking out the short wool, techni-


Page 36


or ten at a time, and passed sometimes through two and sometimes through three Gill-boxes, before the slivers are fit to send to the combing machines. I may here say that the object of carding the wool is to break up the natural arrangement of the fibres of the wool in which it grows upon the sheep’s back, that is to say, to break up the natural arrangement in order that the fibres may be arranged artificially into textile threads. The object of carding is the same whether we intend to convert the material into worsted or woollen, viz :—to break up the natural

Page 37


Page 38


bearing in mind that this time the remaining portion of our wool, which is a fair average sample of middle class Port Philip. Wool, which if we work up without any additions, will with ordinary care and management spin to about 40 skeins—our worsted friends, whom we have just left, have got the same wool easily to 80 skeins; but we are now going in for woollen yarn and not for worsted. The first process again is the sorting of the wool into two or more qualities, according to what the wool is capable of, and according to the goods the manufac- turer may be in immediate want of. But this time the short wool does not require to be thrown out as in the case of worsted, (I am afraid the sin of the woollen trade is in throwing short stuff in, instead of throwing it out) the woollen being a manufacture of staple of varied lengths, the worsted requiring staple as nearly uniform in length as it is practicable to get it, hence the combing. The next process again, as before, is the scouring of the wool to.clear it of its natural grease or yolk, then it is dryed and willeyed, to shake it open and to get out the dust, after which a quantity of olive oil is sprinkled upon it to enable it to be carded and spun. Oil or grease when applied directly to wool, covers up the interstices between those minute lamina or scales that I have described to you, as is well known to all wool spinners, however little they may know or under- stand of the why and wherefore of oil being so applied, further than the fact of its giving to the wool a smooth gliding effect, so necessary for the object of their business. The carding comes next in order, and as before stated, is the disentangling of the fibres from each

Page 39


other with the view of their being re-entangled artifi- cially into threads. This being done, the wool leaves the last carding

Page 40

34 of rollers operating upon the sliver in succession. Having got the Condenser bobbins into the Mule, and the slivers fixed to the spindles, let us witness the operation of drawing the woollen thread. The moment the rollers of the Mule begin to wind in the sliver, the, spindle carriage begins to recede, bearing away the spindles, which begin to revolve and put twine into the sliver preparatory to the commencement of the drawing. The rollers continue to wind in sliver until they have wound in about half the length, more or less, of the draw of the Mule, and then they stop, the spindle carriage bearing the revolving spindles with the sliver attached, still continuing steadily to recede from. the rollers; the result, necessarily, of this operation is that the sliver becomes elongated, or drawn out to twice its original length, and you will please note here that the rollers have performed no part of the drawing, but have simply wound in the sliver, and then stood perfectly at rest until the spindles, with their compound motion of revolving and receding at one and the same time, have completed the drawing of the stretch of yarn; shortly

Page 41


that it is not and cannot be drawn by rollers as in worsted, but only by the point of the spindle, which at the same time that the fibres of the sliver are being drawn out into a thread, gives a certain portion of twine necessary to counteract the strong tendency of each individual fibre to shrink and curl up, and

Page 42


in consequence of, the greatest twitch being thrown upon them through the twine going in simultaneously with the draft, the longest fibres have no alternative but to crush and elbow their way towards the centre of the forming thread, and to constitute the centre of its core—this comes about because they are oftenest entwined around each other in consequence of

Page 43


strictly and equitably maintained, in all parts of the draft, to produce a perfect Woollen Thread. The twine is a constant factor—the draft is an ever varying factor—the latter has to be adjusted to the former

Page 44


to partake of the nature of the worsted yarn by drawing

Page 45


as the West of England superfine coating could be made, but immediately the Condenser yarn was used the cloth was found to be completely changed in character—the production of this cloth is a severe test, and any radical change, such as that made by the Condenser, is at once indicated in the cloth. Tissue from the Condenser was not a fully developed woollen thread, therefore when put into a superfine west cloth the fabric was not of the normal strength, the cloth was not sufficiently in cover for the finisher, it was papery in the handle, and was destitute of the usual suppleness of the best west cloth. Every attempt was made to remedy these discovered defects. To overcome the want of cover, or balk, more raising was resorted to by the finisher to get up the usual pile and lustre of face, more boiling was tried, and every effort failed to mellow the cloth and the face had a washed appearance. The final outcome was that the cloth was tendered by the excessive raising to get up the usual fulness of fibre on the surface of the cloth to form the “ face,” which the imperfect Condenser thread could not yield, and the additional boiling to get up face added only to the mischief—the cloth was rotten, grey on the face, papery and stiff. The sliver taken from the Condenser and spun direct, at one drawing, is not a woollen thread, it has not had

Page 46

40 modes constitutes the difference between worsted and woollen. And so strictly is this the truth, that we can take combed worsted sliver, or worsted roving, and spin it into a woollen thread—drawing on the woollen principle takes the wool fibres out of the parallel form and arranges them in an anti-parallel, or woollen form. From the introduction of machine spinning down to the present day, the other textile industries have nearly every one been expanding and perfecting more and more their stages of drawing, while the woollen trade, in the depths of its wisdom, forsooth, has been

Page 47

26 7

182 Il

2,002 3

6,006 Il

66,066 5

33095330 2

660,660 2


Page 48

42 and then the above roving was taken to the mules and finished off with additional drawing. I Thus we see that, notwithstanding the keenness of competition, the worsted trade have wisely never lost sight of any movement that tended towards the

Page 49


than it was 50 years ago. The thread obtained by one drawing direct from the Condenser is a miserable substitute for a real woollen thread. In the old Billy days the manufacture was much better served, for then there were always two and sometimes three drawings, when roving was resorted to, but now in the majority of cases, we don’t get one perfect drawing, but if we did get one perfect drawing, one drawing fails to produce a complete woollen thread. The fact is that the woollen thread is now much less completely formed. in our mills than it was 50 years ago, and as a con- sequence the goods that can be produced from it are of more limited range than in the days of the old Slubbing Billy. If, for instance, a 24 skeins yarn is now required to be produced, it is quite common to condense the wool to a 16 skeins sliver, leaving only a miserable half of an unit of drawing with which to build up the thread. Whereas in the old Billy days the cardings would drop out at the end of the carding machine at about 2} skeins in counts or thickness, and then be taken to the Billy and drawn into 12 skeins slubbing, or to five times the original counts—12 skeins slubbing would go to the. Mule and be drawn into a 24 skeins yarn, so that the 24 skeins carding gets drawn to about

Page 50


much drawing as the Condenser yarn, and as the thread is formed, or constructed, wholely and solely by drawing only, it does not take the wisdom of Solomon to find out which is the better thread, nor the insight and foresight of a Prophet to foretel the disastrous effects of using sucha tissue, as that from the Con- denser, formed as above, where a pure and properly built up woollen yarn is required. We are not sure, nor have we any guarantee, that some wiseacre will not before the year goes out, put narrower rings, or narrower tapes still upon the Condenser and condense the sliver to the entire length of 24 skeins, carry it to the Mule and simply twine it, and forthwith take out a patent for the achievement, and then the insanity of the Condenser Craze would be complete, having done away with the spinning altogether. It cannot be too distinctly borne in mind that there is not a particle of anything done till the spinning stage is reached towards forming a thread, the carding and condensing have nothing whatever to do with forming the thread, beyond leading up to the spinning stage, the thread is formed wholely and solely by the drawing of the spinning, and unless the spinning shall have conceded to it its place and range, we must expect the woollen manufacture to continue to decline. While other textile industries have mostly a brilliant record to show of the advance of the last 50 years, we in the woollen manufacture have nothing to show, except it be advance backwards” from to units of drawing to a wretched half unit, and as a natural con- sequence of this deterioration of our spinning the

Page 51


woollen manufacture has had to beat a retreat all along the line, and other industries have occupied its place. The Worsted Coating has taken the place of the old Superfine Black Broad, which can no longer be produced in its old strength of fabric, fullness of face, lustre and suppleness under the

Page 52

46 manufacturers never seek to apply science and the best technical skill that they can command, in order to regain lost ground, and to be able to produce any kind of cloth to which a true and pure woollen thread lends itself?

Page 53


notions—no railways—no telegraphs—no telephones— no steam navigation—no anything that would now be considered worth calling aught the woollen thread was vastly better formed than it is now. We have improved our machinery, but have utterly disregared, or ignorantly ignored, the principles that underlie its working, in the production of a woollen thread. In this respect we have proved ourselves unworthy successors of our forefathers, and have failed to preserve intact the inheritance handed down to us, and have further failed to make a generation’s addition thereto, as in duty bound, for the benefit of our children. I may again point to

Page 54


simple it is compound—instead of being consecutive it is simultaneous. Thus we see that the two threads clash at every point throughout their manufacture, and are as opposite to each other as it is possible for them to be. From what I have said about the structure of the woollen thread, it will be seen how utterly futile all attempts must ever be to spin the woollen thread upon the continuous principle, which is the principle of worsted, flax, spun silk, hemp, jute, and every vegetable fibre you can name; in fact, it is the principle of spinning all the bare non-covering yarns, whether from or animal material. We must not suppose that any conglomeration of fibres gathered together higgledy, piggledy, by any sort of haphazard process, ought to be called a yarn—it is only so much spoiled material. The two yarns or threads that I have sketched out before you are not so randomly formed, else we should not have the extreme tenuity, high tensile strength, and clear outline, like drawn wire of the worsted (See Fig. 7); nor should we have that beautifully compact graded core and fringy cover (See Fig. 6) of the woollen thread—each beautiful, each perfect in its kind, and each based upon a definite principle of structure. Frames for the spinning of woollen yarn have sprung up in rapid succession during the last 40 years. Mechanics are certain that it can be done, and it would be done, ultimately, if it were only a mechanical difficulty, but the difficulty lays wholly outside the domain of mechanics, as an intelligent preception of the

Page 55


passed in review before you will show. The woollen thread is essentially and entirely the product of the Hargreaves’ Jenny side of the Mule, and has not a particle of framework in its structure, and when the frame is applied to the spinning of it, it can only spoil It, as its action is alien to the nature of the woollen thread. You will observe that I have sketched for your con- sideration the structure of a pure worsted thread and a pure woollen thread. I may say that there are worsted yarns spun for carpet manufacture, and for hosiery or stocking yarns, that are not combed, all the noils and shorts are left in, an true worsted not being requisite for these

Page 56


work. Whatever the worsted thread is, the woollen thread 7s not, after the outset. At the outset certainly they agree; they are both made of wool, often of identically the same wool, but after this agreement at the starting point there is no other point at which they will agree afterwards—you will have to write

Page 57


woollen yarn on a frame will only be done when the frame has been turned

Page 58

or speak do so in a murmur, and seemed puzzled that such nice yarns should make such indifferent goods. The murmur and dissatisfaction is of a kind that strongly reminds one of the old doggerel lines—

Page 59


upon the half-penny, and marched off with

Page 60


I wish it to be distinctly understood that I quarrel not with people as to the kind of yarn they prefer ; that is their look out, not mine. I aim only to place before you a scientific definition, and if you are not content with the 40 skeins got out of the wool we have been considering, send part of the wool into Belgium, and you will get it spun to 55 skeins. You have a perfect right to have your own way, and to be pleased with seeing and having a nice yarn, small spun, as well as anybody else—some people have quite a passion for a deal of yard stick, give them plenty of length for their money and they are satisfied. Got your yarn back from Belgium, have you? Yes, and spun to 56 skeins. Like it? Yes, it’s beautiful, beats the English yarn hollow—it’s smatt, clear and glossy, it’s quite a coat on it’s back—the English yarn looks so rough and hairy when laid alongside that I am quite ashamed of it, the Belgian yarn is immensely superior, it’s a most beautiful yarn, and besides and better than all, J have 16 skeins more length (there goes the yard stick again).

Page 61


the side of the nots” you have 16 parts lost of the woolleny character of the yarn. W-e-ll, but I don’t see itin that way. I don’t suppose you do; but what-. ever you want more than about half the worsted length, can only be had by sacrificing a corresponding pro- portion of the woolleny character of the yarn. You must not expect that you can be allowed to run off with all the 16 skeins extra length and retain the same woolleny character in the yarn. You can have either one or the other, but you must not think to run off with both; that would be to attempt the old trick of the

Page 63


right angles, but the folds of the twine of the warp and weft threads must cross each other at right angles also, to enable the threads to retain their distinctness of individuality in the fulling, or milling, and the finishing. In using warp and weft spun the same way of twine, the folds of twine do cross each other at right angles in the cloth, thereby removing, as far as it is possible to remove, the liability of the fibres, -and even of the threads themselves, to mingle bodily in the milling. If our object in using our woollen yarn is to make a_ plain cloth, such as a Doeskin or a Superfine Black Broad, where it is requisite to hide the make of the cloth, then in order to obtain this result the weft requires to be twined the opposite way to the twine of the warp, in order to afford the greatest facility for the fibres mingling quickly, and felting and forming one homogenious mass, hiding every vestige of the ‘‘ make” or framework of the fabric. In the fancy cloth you require to preserve as much as possible the individuality of the threads for the sake of the pattern, in the plain cloth you require to lose it as quickly as possible in order to obtain the closeness of face and cover for the finisher to operate upon, and to do this the folds of the twine in the weft require to meet with, or fall in with, the folds of the twine in the warp, and not. cross them at vight angles as in the fancy cloth. By using opposite twine for warp and weft in a fancy cloth you get closeness and evenuess of face as in the plain cloth, but you sacrifice distinctness of pattern in doing it. To people almost exclusively engaged in the woollen trade, I need not attempt to name the vari


Page 64


for the make of which woollen yarn is useful, from the flannels we wear, and the blankets we rest upon after our day’s toil, down through every kind of cloths, their name is legion, but will ask your attention to one of the leading features of its use. The very peculiar structure of the woollen thread eminently fits it for the make of all kinds of cloths that require to be felted or ‘‘ milled.” The worsted thread that we have been considering is from identically the same wool, but its formation pre- cludes its being made into goods where much felting is required. If you attempt to milla fabric made from worsted to any considerable extent, the material will gather up into beady lumps which we call “ nigger

Page 66

60 pieces in the grease, or scouring and milling at one operation. The cloth would finish better in every way if the grease was completely scoured out before any attempt is made at milling, which should be done in pure soap only. By the application of liquid soap we clean out and open the mouths of these tiny scales, they open their mouths to soap like the flowers open to the sun, and hook into each other as shown in the sectional sketch on the diagram whenever the fibres touch each other (See Fig. 8). Till recent years the greatest philosopher could not explain to us the principle on which the felting effect was produced in wool—there was the practical fact for thousands of years unexplained. To the presence of these scaly excresences upon the hair or fibre of wool, and to the peculiar structure of the woollen thread, we owe these very remarkable transformations of textile fabrics from the loose, open, unserviceable, friable textures into those compact, unfriable, wear-resisting fabrics, which when fully milled and of fine quality result in those magnificent cloths for which the West of England was formerly so much noted. There is one condition to successful felting that I must not omit to mention, and that is that wool to be used for felting must always be shorn or cut from the sheep or skin, which is not always the case with skin wools as they are sometimes plucked, in which case there is always a small bulb at the root end of the fibre which prevents its felting, as we shall see immediately. The liquid soap, along with the pressure, friction, and heat of the milling machine, puts every fibre in the whole

Page 67


mass of the fabric into motion, and as the operation goes on, each separate fibre bores in amongst its fellows of the mass, and by an amusing, but deeply interesting sort of Irish perversity of character, 7 bores in root end foremost, and helps the process forwards by persistently marching backwards, and hence the need of the sharp point obtained by cutting or shearing the wool from the skin. Each fibre goes on its backward march, and each hair or fibre travels in its own individual direction, boring, warping, interlacing, locking, holding, twisting, wriggling, and insinuating itself amongst its fellows, until the whole mass heaves as it were with life and becomes like a bed of live worms, and resulting at last in a compact body of cloth that is capable of receiving a very high finish, and will stand much wear and tear when made up into garments. The power of combination and the fable of the bundle of sticks are strikingly illustrated here—each hair or fibre looked at singly seems so insignificant, yet collectively and acting in unison when the day of adversity comes upon them, and the hand of oppression hardship, and ill-treatment overtakes them, they com- bine (not quarrel) and become strong, defiant, and hold their own against all comers, and all competition, by clasping each others hands, clinging tenaciously to each other, the more firmly the more they are

Page 68


while on the other hand are the felting power, the suppleness, the durability and warmth of the felted Woollen. Each of the Wool products, Worsted and Woollen, opens out a wide field for the textile designer and manufacturer, so ample that it may be said to be almost boundless, yet when these two wool products are used in combination, each in their respective character, a still wider field opens out to one’s view in which the designer and the manufacturer may each display their respective abilities. There is no reason why we should not have all the sharply defined outline of pattern, which the worsted can give us, in combination with all the felting power, warmth, suppleness, and durability of the woollen in one and the same cloth. The writer is quite aware that cloths, such as Serges, have been made, and are now being made by combining Woollen and Worsted—indeed the serge cloth is one of the oldest English cloths known, and dates back over 2,000 years, but it is not any of the old cloths, nor any of the “ fluffy” or other present day cloths that is in. the mind of the writer, but a cloth for the future, based more particularly on the great felting properties of the Woollen Thread when properly built up by the requisite amount of drawing. As an illustration of the principle attempted to be here shadowed forth, take one of the striped fancy worsted trouserings, so popular at present. But instead of having the whole of the fabric composed of worsted let the warp portion only be of worsted, and instead of setting it the ordinary width in the loom that all or solid worsteds are set, take identically the same number of threads of warp and spread them out:

Page 69


to, say 10 inches wider, in an opener reed, and weave with a properly constructed woollen thread of 40 skeins, 30 skeins, or 20 skeins according to weight of cloth required. Then let the cloth be thoroughly scoured, washed off, and dried out—then after mending comes the milling, and this is a crucial point in this cloth. The writer has had his mind engaged on the production of a combination cloth of this kind for many years, but always stuck fast at the milling, ultimately a series of experiments brought out this conclusion that worsted would have to be treated as worsted, and woollen as woollen. This was easy so long as each material was separate, but not by any means easy when the two were in combination. Wool in the form of worsted is in its worst form for milling and should have little or no milling. On the other hand wool in the form of woollen is in its best form for milling and will stand almost any amount we choose to give it. How to get these two rival natures to amicably walk in company was a matter of no little difficulty for a long time. Ultimately this resolved itself into shape. The warp must be held out in length in the milling because it is worsted, and if allowed to mill up in length to any material extent, it would lose it lustre, and the structure of the thread would be completely disarranged. On the other hand the weft of the cloth being woollen will stand any amount almost of milling, so that the milling has to be got from the weft. To accomplish this the cloth is first taken and passed through a soaping machine in order that it may be

Page 70


thoroughly and evenly soaped. Then the cloth has to be threaded upon the milling machine double, with the front roller locked fast, and every weight taken off the milling machine at the back, and the retarding flap board fastened against the top of the trough and not allowed to touch the cloth on its way through the machine. The cloth requires to be double on the machine so as to have plenty of bulk in passing through the crushing rollers, otherwise it would mill-streak and damage on account of being subjected to so heavy a drag. If the cloth is a narrow trousering, it would be requisite to weave two in a breadth in addition to threading double on the milling machine. The object of this mode of milling is to hold out the warp threads in length and to draw them as close to each other as possible by the milling power of the weft, and filling every crevice between the worsted with woollen, and lacing together the whole fabric into one sheet of felt, at the same time keeping the pattern clear and distinct, while obtaining warmth, durability, softness in the hand, which an ordinary worsted trousering does not possess. There is no reason in the world why we should not have the benefit of all the smartness, and sharp- I ness of outline that worsted can give, and at the same time have all the benefit that the warmth, the durability of wear, and mellowness which felted woollen can give. An all worsted always feels raw and cold in the hand, more like calico than a wool product, and never satisfactory in the wear, neither does it hang gracefully ina garment. By combining the two wool products, and treating each according to its respective character,

Page 71


an immense field is opened out to the designer and the manufacturer for the display of their respective abilities, in addition to what is afforded by the use of woollen by itself or by the use of worsted by itself.

Page 72


look out for something new and novel, to take the place of the worsted coating. A combination cloth would have many advantages which a worsted coating does not possess. A worsted coating soon glazes in the wearing, hangs flabby, does not turn the weather, and is raw and ungenial in the handle, and is not durable in the wear. During the past year the writer has woven over 100 yards of worsted warp in patterns, and various lengths to test this combination, when applied to black dress coating cloths with such an amount of success as induces him to think that the thing will be accomplished before many more years pass by. The writer has invented an addition to the milling machine which will enable him to carry his experiments much nearer to a successful issue than anything hitherto attained. In all probability a black coating for evening dress pur- poses will yet be produced in a combination cloth that will outvie anything hitherto seen, a coating that will be light in weight, mellow in the hand, warm, and durable, and undertoned with a fine neat fancy pattern when preferred—a cloth that shall embody all the best points or properties of worsted and all the best points or properties of woollen. A melton also could be made in this way that would be superior by far to any melton now going, as the fine worsted warp would lend itself to the cloth being more evenbodied on the face, and would be far stronger and more durable—they need be no more tender meltons.


In summing up and concluding this discussion it may be remarked that a first class woollen thread

Page 73

67 requires to pass through three operations of drawing to complete its construction aright, and we in this day ought to have advanced the drawing up to at least as far as 14 or 15 units, by putting it through the slubbing, roving, and finished spinning processes, all of which are really spinning in its different stages of progress. A thread thus formed would enable us to take up again the production of the superfine West of England cloth, or any other cloth that our taste or fancy might lead us to desire, such a thread would bear a thousand applica- tions that we at present have no conception of, and the © woollen manufacture might hold up its head once more, and go forward.

Page 74


to in order to perfect their thread, will it never dawn upon the woollen people, that there is perhaps a principle of structure in the woollen thread that may require a series of drawings also, in order to properly construct a woollen thread? Perhaps it will some day be thought worth while to make a little inquiry on this

Page 75


tendency to deterioration in the different processes such as that of the deterioration of the woollen thread in consequence of the head not under- standing what the hand was doing when it robbed the thread of its drawing. One of the most important questions for any man is a thorough technical know- ledge of the work or industry by which he earns his daily bread—hand-work and head-work should. be inseparable, the head directing the hand, and then instead of deterioration and falling back in the Woollen Thread there would have been improvement and advancement, The most urgent want of the day is more technical knowledge amongst all classes of the community in regard to their respective industries. The minute division of labour in most industries in modern times has tended adversely, and has caused many of the processes to be gone through mechanically, without thought being brought into play at all, the hands being I only engaged, and this in course of time, as generation succeeds generation, causes the principle that underlies the different processes to be lost sight of and forgotten ; whereas when labour was less subdivided the mind had to be more engaged with the work of the hands, and had to take into account what had gone before and what would have to come after. What is wanted in the present day is to bring back again head-work into the different processes, that the labour of the hands may be lightened and rendered more efficient by the skilful direction of the brain. Without the utmost technical skill we cannot expect to maintain

Page 78


Page 79


6 to 12, Cross Church Street, ELU LD.



Gas and Steam Tubes and Fittings, in iron, brass, and copper; Patent and other Steam Valves and Taps, in various makes; Screwing Machines and Screwing Stocks and Dies, and Taps, for tubes and bolts; Superior Tools of every description ; best selected Swedish Charcoal Iron Wire, in coils or straight cut lengths; Brass, Copper, and Steel ditto, best Charcoal Card Tacks, Bolts and Nuts, Copper Rivets and Washers, Copper Bars, round and square; Sheet and Perforated Zinc. and Copper, Emery, Glue, Machine Strickles, Weavers’ Mails. Chain, Strap Fasteners, Tenter Hooks, Pulley Blocks, Patent Chain Blocks, Lifting Jacks, Bench Vices, Roofing and Boiler Felt, Weighing Machines, Machine Ground Circular Saws, Files, Strong Galvanized Wire Loom Baskets, and Fire Buckets, Thermo- meters and Specific Gravity Instruments,


Wronght-iron rim, arms and boss, up to 24ft. by 6ft, The only pulley made which is absolutely unbreakable.

Estimates given to compete with the inferior Cast Boss Pulleys,

Crossley’s Patent Air Propellors, for drying and ventilating Wool and Cloth Stoves.

Page 80

‘Telegraphic Address: DOBCROSS.” Railway Station: SADDLEWORTH, L. &N. W.


LIMITED, Dobcross Loom Works, DOBCROSS, nr. Oldham,

Inventors and Makers of the CELEBRATED DO BCROSS.LOOM

Page 84


Page 85


Alfred Jubb & Son, Ltd., § Dla

Page 86


No. 1 6d. 1000

No. 4 7d. 1000

No. 10

Page 87


No. 32 lid. 1000

No. 33 10d. 1000

No. 19 9d. 1000

No. 25 10d. 1000

No. 26

10d. 1000

No. 24

Return to the Huddersfield Exposed home page
View the list of other OCR'd books