Thursday, 15 January 2015

Teasel teasing

A beautiful day in the country and a walk with the dog is essential. Even in the depths of January there is plenty to see in the landscape . We have to push our way through swathes of teasels which then catch on our clothes and won't get off despite brushing and picking. This made me think about how I had heard that teasels used to be used for 'carding' wool fibre ('teasing' out the wool)  and I thought how on earth was this achieved given that the teasels are impossible to remove and that the wool would end up tangled up in prickly seeds - not the intended end result I'm sure.
Anyway, for those worried about this fact as I was, apparently the teasels used for carding was a special type of teasel called the fuller's teasel. Fullers were the tradespeople who felted the cloth after weaving and also raised the nap with the use of the teasels which were set into a cross shaped frame. These hand held frames were eventually superseded by the teasel gig. This consisted of a large cylindrical drum which was coated in teasel heads. The teasel gig's teasels were maintained and replaced by an specialist 'teasel man' who travelled from mill to mill. The Fuller's teasel has apparently got different spines on the seed heads so that they don't get caught up and ruin the wool.

So now you know.