Wovember Words #5 showed an excerpt from A.E. Henderson, “Growing Better Wool”, 1968. If you read the comments, you will see that Henderson was advocating his rules in order to provide very uniform wool fibres to enable uniform commercial processing of these fibres by mills. It wouldn’t surprise us if this has led to that very 21st century expectation that above all, wool needs to be SOFT. However, back in the 1920s wool was still graded for the different qualities found in a fleece, enabling the matching up of fibre quality and intended use. In order to identify these grades of wool, a large mill in the Teifi valley used the following words:

  1. Super diamond: the best quality from the shoulders
  2. Extra diamond: from the sides
  3. Diamond: from the back
  4. Neck (or shafty): short, fine fibres
  5. Picklock: belly wool, often felted
  6. Prime britch: coarse, long staples from the haunches
  7. Britch: coarse and dirty from the hind legs
  8. Brokes: poor wool from the fore legs
  9. Pole lock: coarse, straight fibres from the head”

– J. Geraint Jenkins – From Fleece to Fabric, The Technological History of the Welsh Woollen Industry, Gomer Press 1981, Llandysul, Dyfed

Sussex fleeces today; photographed in the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre, photographed by Felicity Ford

This entry was posted by tomofholland.

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