Located in Yorkshire, the traditional home of the English cloth mills, Abraham Moon, is one of the last fully vertical wool mills in Britain, with dyeing, blending, carding, spinning, weaving and the finishing processes all taking place on one site.

Founded in 1837, and still run by the founding family, the mill has recently attracted some of the biggest names in fashion with everyone from Burberry to Vivienne Westwood having their tweeds and other fabrics manufactured there.

But the design and pattern books, which date back to the early part of the Twentieth Century, tell of past stories too. Fashion fabrics from 1900 to 1913 gradually give way to army shirting, trouserings and greatcoat cloths in 1914 which in turn are replaced by the emerging fashion of the Twenties.

QueensOfVintage took a look around the mill, to find out more about the production process at Moon.

Raw wool arrives on site from South Africa and New Zealand. It is then moved to the  Dye House, to be dyed using precise (and secret!) combinations of dye, pressure, temperature and time. Moon can reproduce over 500 different shades and colours and keeps an impressive archive to ensure they can reproduce any of their yarns.

It was a real surprise for us to learn that each yarn is made up of up to seven different wools, which explains the rich texture and heavy feel of British tweed.

After the wool has gone through carding, a process in which wool is lubricated with a little water and oil and is run through a series of combed rollers that first tease the fibers one way and then the other, the yarn is spun. The cones hold up to an incredible 16,000m of yarn.

The yarn is then spun into a warp, depending on the intricacy of the pattern in the finished fabric, precise lengths of different coloured yarn may be required in a single vertical thread, and up to 2000 threads may be required for a width of fabric.

The next step is the weaving, where different yarns are woven together. This was incredibly fascinating to watch, especially as the machines just seemed to feed out yards and yards of incredible fabrics each minute.

In the last few steps, the fabrics are washed, milled and dried, a process which gives them the soft, luxurious feel. Once steam pressed, the fabric is then ready.

The tour around Moon was absolutely fascinating, not least because it is such a positive story of British heritage manufacturing – local production and using the highest quality products does pay off after all!

 

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