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Even with 100% wool fabrics there can be huge differences in quality and durability, which is why I prefer to buy fabric, and wool in particular, in person rather than online, unless it is from a very reputable supplier.
Today, worsted fabrics are most likely to be seen in men’s suiting, and in trench coats and other outerwear.
The long wool from worsted-type sheep is arranged, either by gilling (pulling through holes) combing with metal combs, or as part of the spinning process, so that the fibres lie parallel and end to end: these long, parallel wool fibres are what characterise worsted wool processing.
Worsted wools are better at keeping out the wind and rain, but woolen wools are warmer, because they are full of air which acts as insulation.Worsted is also used to describe a particular way of spinning yarn, or weight of yarn, but I’m not going to go into that because it’s a modern spinning thing, not a historical textile thing.Worsted wool comes from sheep with really long wool (long-staple): generally sheep that live in fairly easily accessible, lush, green pastures, as opposed to sheep that do best in harsher environments.At the same time waves of Flemish weavers, fleeing unrest in the Low Countries in the early 14th century, immigrated to Norfolk in England in response to invitations to settle in England offered in 1271 to fullers, dyers and weavers.They set up weaving in and around Worstead, in Norfolk, and introduced new spinning and weaving techniques.