The naming of names

"I am a draper mad with love. I love you more than all
the flannelette and calico, candlewick, dimity, crash
and merino, tussore, cretonne, crepon, muslin,
poplin, ticking and twill in the whole Cloth Hall of
the world [...] "
(from Under Milkwood, Dylan Thomas 1954)

I can add some myself, off the top of my head: duroy, stuff, fustian, genoa, thickset, roundtop, gabardine ... and tweed.

All of them "weave names", all of them... confusing (at least to me, the foreigner).

Janet wrote, à propos my jackets , that they were both classical tweeds.

Of late, again I have had occasion to get confused about cloth naming. Remember the corduroy ?
There is that very Swedish (or at least "swedishified", I thought) word korderoj. I've known it (as a word - unfortunately not as a cloth quality) all my life. When I met corduroy as a cloth quality (or structure), and knew it for what we (Swedes) nowadays call Manchester velvet, I assumed that korderoj was the older Swedish word for, well, corduroy.

It turns out I was wrong.

All available (old and new) Swedish reference books claim that korderoj is not "what the English call corduroy", but instead is a "simple" (or maybe "cheap"), coarse (often striped) fabric for men's suiting.

To make things worse, "corduroy" is not derived from French - instead it is believed it comes from "cord" + "duroy". Duroy is a fabric name - meaning either "A lightweight WORSTED, akin to SERGE and TAMMY, and not the same as CORDUROY" or "duroy: coarse woollen" . (which, incidentally, ties it with Korderoj... perhaps).

Well, back to tweed. Janet, I'm glad you call them tweed jackets - it's what I called them myself. Until...

This is how Wikipedia defines it:
"Tweed is a rough, unfinished woollen fabric, of a soft, open, flexible texture resembling cheviot or homespun, but more closely woven. It is made in either plain or twill weave and may have a check or herringbone  pattern. Subdued, interesting colour effects (heather mixtures) are obtained by twisting together differently coloured woolen strands into a two- or three-ply yarn."

Also, there used to be a yarn called "tweed yarn", a singles, fairly coarse, with nubs in contrasting colours. The yarn itself was dark, grey, dark blue, dark green etc.

And, I think I remember having read some old English literature - Woodehouse, perhaps? - about tweed being "thornproof" and not showing mud spots.

All of the above means the jackets are not tweed. (But it almost sounds like the korderoj above?)
The Donegal tweed (from Magee  - bought in Donegal Town) I have supports that. Except it is woven of singles. There are about 7 ends/cm in the warp, and 5 or 5,5 picks per cm. It shows some signs of tracking.

But... then, there is the Harris tweed (bought from a weaver, maybe in Harris, maybe in Lewis)

This looks a lot more like my older jacket - worsted, patterned... but woven with singles, with 12-13 ends and 19 picks per cm. The number of colours, and their sequence, is less complex than the Elgin, er, tweed.

The more you know, the more you know what you don't know - as usual... :-)

1 comment:

weaveblah said...

I'm confused too.
I wish there was a universal language which could be applied to the naming of weave structures (and now that I'm started, also to the naming of parts of a loom and the processes related to 'dressing' a loom).
Recently, I have been reading Irene Emery's tome "The Primary Structures of Fabrics" and was amazed to see so many names applied, currently, and historically, just to Plain Weave.