What is Worsted Wool?
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You're here to find out 'what is worsted wool?' Right? Ok - here we go. 'Worsted' is a term used in the production of wool for both yarns and fabrics.

There are several stages in the production of yarns. I will only cover those relevant to describing the differences in the production of woollen and worsted yarns and fabrics.

What is Worsted Wool? Well, the differences between woollens and worsteds begin at the carding stage. 'Carding' is one of the processes which untangles the wool fibers and lays them straight, side by side. It also helps to clean the fibers of debris. Both woollens and worsteds are carded.

'Combing' is the next process in establishing what is worsted wool. Combing removes shorter length fibers and helps to further straighten the fibers and lay them parallel. Combing also helps to clean more debris from the fibers. Only worsteds are combed.

During spinning, worsted yarns have more twist inserted which makes them a firmer, stronger yarn. This in turn makes worsted fabrics stronger than woollens.

While I'm explaining to you what is worsted wool, I should show you the different characteristics of worsted and woollen yarns and fabrics. Here you go...

Worsted yarns

  • have a long staple length (4 inch fibers and longer only)
  • are carded and combed
  • have a tight twist in spinning
  • are stronger
  • are finer, smoother, and have more even fibers
  • are harder

Woollen yarns

  • have a short staple (1 - 4 inch long fibers)
  • are carded only
  • have a slack twist
  • are weaker
  • are bulkier
  • are softer

Are you beginning to learn what is worsted wool? Good! There's more to learn though...

Here are some differences between worsted and woollen fabrics...

Worsted fabrics

  • have a distinct woven pattern and are more closely woven
  • have a hard finish for a flatter, smoother look
  • are firm, wiry or harsh, and smooth or rough
  • wrinkle less, are more long-lasting, and hold creases and shape
  • are more expensive and good for tailored clothing and suits

Woollen fabrics

  • have a less obvious pattern
  • have a soft finish (maybe felted, or steamed)
  • are soft, thick and fuzzy
  • are warmer, and you can remove stains more easily
  • are usually less expensive and good for jackets, sweaters and blankets

So - there you have it! In a nutshell - the answer to the infamous question "What is Worsted Wool?"

You'll never look at a wool suit the same way, right? There's a LOT more that goes into processing wool, but let's stop here for now. Suffice to say - that's why worsted wool suits tend to be expensive - because there's more processing involved. Hope that's satisfied your curiosity!

Find out how to make wool felt by hand.
Find out how to felt wool in your washing machine.
Learn what you can make from felted wool.
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