The HOH Story So Far...
Monday 6th September 2021: HOH '21 Blog 3
This iconic part of Yorkshire gives us so much more than just its landscape and its people. We have our master weaver and his team (family business) as well as the mills within the Holme Valley and the Colne Valley; these people and places are the true inspiration behind our Heart of Huddersfield project.
From spinning the yarn all the way through to the final rub test on the finished piece, everything takes place within a eight-mile radius, hence, the ‘Heart of Huddersfield’.
Producing our lovely wools begins with creating the yarn…
At the very beginning of our HOH journey, we visited the spinning mill in Meltham. A multi-generational family business, with historical expertise and renown. These very same spinners have top Italian design Houses and independent designers in Scotland amongst their customers.
This family business is based in Meltham, a village just 5 miles from the centre of Huddersfield. We were astounded by the different processes involved in spinning woollen yarns and seeing the incredible machinery and skilled workforce in operation was a privilege. History lessons about the Industrial Revolution, Spinning Jenny’s and Mules were brought to life in front of our eyes. Nowadays, all of the machinery is high tech, but they are essentially using the same processes that were developed during the industrial revolution which changed the way that everything was done.
Once created, the yarns make their short journey to one of the local weaving companies, where they are then woven into fabric.
Did you know yarn for fabric weaving comes in differing weights and thickness’, just like knitting yarn? Instead of the term “ply” the weaving yarn weight and thickness for our HOH fabric is referred to as “Skeins”. The thicker and denser the yarn, the heavier the fabric will become. But the processes do not stop at the weaving!
When we see our (unfinished) fabric for the first time, it often doesn’t look anything like the finished product!
There are many processes involved in the finishing of fabrics. Everything from piece-dyeing to tentering to milling. Not all fabrics are treated the same, the different processes that the fabric goes through determines how the final fabric comes out, how it looks and feels when its finished! Our Heart of Huddersfield ’21 raw woolly fabric, eventually turns into softer smoother, more lustrous fabric with our desired feel and drape.
This Year’s Fabric started out as a staggered, Two-Up-Two-Down Herringbone Weave, but after finishing the fabric is reincarnated as a “Melton-Style Twill Weave”:
Our HOH woollen fabrics are finished at a dyers in Holmfirth, only three miles from Huddersfield Centre, yet another history-steeped mill where tradition meets technology. During our guided tour around this amazing mill, we couldn’t make our minds up whether we were entering a huge industrial laundry or some top secret NASA laboratory! Vats with metres of steaming fabric and huge chrome washing machines spread out before our eyes.
Did you know the fabric actually starts out fuller and wider than it does before it reaches the shelves of Fabworks? This is because it’s milled (felted), a process which fluffs up the fibres, raising the hair follicles causing them to knit together within the material, this allows the weave to tighten and the finishing causes the fabric to shrink by 10% in width! The milling obscures the weave of the fabric causing the intricate woven design to become more brushed and hazy.
Within our Heart of Huddersfield collections, we have a multitude of weaves! They are all fascinating in their own right! Dawn our fabric specialist gives you an insight into these intricate and well known weave designs. Below is an overview of all the weaves that have featured in the Heart of Huddersfield Range, 2019 to 2021:
Weaves from HOH 2019:
An iconic weave named after the chevrons emulating the skeletal bones of herring fish! Two skein colour combinations are common but subtle details are created by the use of blended or multi-tonal twisted yarns.
Multi-coloured checks of differing sized crossed horizontal and vertical stripes. Multiple combinations of colour and complexity are achieved by placing sets of warps (lengthwise yarns) and weft (left to right - horizontal yarns) together. Tartans are basically Plaids but were given names and status according to which Scottish clan they represented by the Victorians, the colours often symbolising certain hierarchies within the clan.
Weave from HOH 2020:
Weave for HOH 2021: