Wovember Words #20
More Wovember Words from Edward Miller’s Textiles, Properties and Behaviour in Clothing Use. These are three words related to remanufactured wool.
This is wool which has been used or processed before, as opposed to virgin wool or pure new wool which is wool being used for the first time. Wool [has] the capacity to be used more than once and in view of the cost of new wool, this is a distinct practical advantage which is not shared by any other textile fibre type.
There are three main sources of raw materials for this industry:
- Shoddy Fibres obtained by shredding ‘soft’ rags, ie knitted or loosely woven wool fabrics
- Mungo Fibres obtained by shredding ‘hard’ rags, ie closely woven or thick heavily milled fabrics
- Noils The shorter fibres of the wool staple extracted during the worsted combing process
The term shoddy will be familiar to many as a word signifying something which looks inferior or poor in quality. The rags used to obtain shoddy and mungo fibres are either old fabrics or new clippings but in reducing the rags to fibres there is considerable fibre damage and breakage. These fibres then are short, and vary considerably in thickness and quality and lack the full qualities of resilience and softness which new wool possesses. Noils are better in tha the fibres are merely shorter than average and not damaged, but they are not fully representative of the quality of wool from which they were extracted.
Due to the shortness of shoddy and mungo fibres they would be difficult to hold securely in a yarn and would easily be rubbed out in use so that the fabric would gradually disintegrate in wear. It is easy to see therefore how the term ‘shoddy’ came to represent something poor in quality.
These fibres are mostly blended with new wool in order to prevent rapid loss of fibres. In this use they are a valuable contribution to the textile industry because if they are skilfully used, attractive medium and low priced woollen fabrics can be made which have sufficient durability, particularly for fashion garments.
Shoddy freight team of Slack Shoddy Mill, Springfield, Vermont, circa 1871. Image from www.slackshoddymill.com