Wool Words: A Glossary

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Wool Glossary

Often throughout our website and company literature we use terms which not everyone outside of the industry will be familiar with – I’ve worked here for two years and some still remain a complete mystery – so we thought we’d start an easy access ‘Wool Glossary’, defining some of the ins and outs of manufacture and design which we hope you’ll find useful. If you have any more you’d like to know, please just add it to the comments section below!


Blending  –  Mixing specific quantities of different colours of dyed wools. The blend can contain up to seven different component shades.

Carding  –  The use of large mechanical ‘combs’ to tease a blend of wool one way then the other, un-knotting any tangles and creating smooth lengths of yarn.

Finish  –  The touch and softness of a fabric after production. Depending on the quality of wool, the water used to wash it and the steaming process, woollen fabrics can feel very different.

Jacquard  –  These looms offer greater versatility with regards to patterns, allowing the creation of highly complicated woven pieces such as Paisley and Fair Isle designs.

Loom  –  Manufacturing device used to weave the cloth.

Mélange  –  Literally meaning ‘mixture’ in French, Mélange colours are exactly that, a mixture of different shades coming together to make a single colour. Much like mixing paints.

Piece  –  A woven piece is a specified length of finished fabic, usually 55 Metres.

Piece Dye  –  Using just the one colour of dye to create a single coloured fabric. No blending is needed, which is the difference between a Piece Dyed and a Mélange Plain fabric.

Plaid  –  Another word used to describe a checked design style.

Scouring  –  The washing, soaking and/or rinsing of wool and wool fabrics, removing any oils and impurities.

Spinning  –  Putting a precise amount of twists per inch into the wool, creating a yarn that’s comparatively stronger than steel. 

Swift  –  The cylindrical drum over which a warp of yarn is drawn ready for weaving.

Twill  –  A type of weave whereby each weft thread passes over one warp thread, then under two, over three and so on. This creates a distinctive diagonal pattern in the fabric.

Verticality  –  Woollen mills which complete every process of fabric manufacturing from a single site. So named because Victorian mills had multiple floors which the wool would pass through.

Warp  –  The set of vertical (lengthwise) threads which make up the woven pattern.

Weaving  –  Interlocking two sets of threads (or yarns) to form a length of fabric. 

Weft  –  The set of horizontal threads woven through the vertical warp, completing the pattern.

Yarn  –  Term for the strong, long threads of wool created after Spinning. Single thread Yarns are wound onto cones holding up to 16,000 Metres.