Your Guide to How Tweed is Made
If you’re on this site, it’s very likely you know what tweed is and how good it looks. But do you know how it’s made? Unsurprisingly, quite a lot has to happen to turn a load of matted sheep fluff into a beautiful three-piece suit — so we thought we'd shed some light on the process.
Read on for everything you need to know about how tweed is made!
Harvesting the wool
Everything starts by taking a pair of shears to an overly-fluffy sheep. Wool is to a sheep as hair is to us, so it doesn’t cause them discomfort to have it all shaved off. In fact, since shearing takes place during spring, it helps the sheep to stay cool during the summer. It also prevents excessive wool growth, which can lead to poor hygiene and even infection.
Shearing is a skill that takes time to master, but the pros can de-hair a sheep in a matter of seconds and all without nicking its skin.
Cleaning and dyeing
Next, the wool needs to be cleaned — rather, it desperately needs to be cleaned! Right now, the grease, dirt, and dried sheep perspiration in the wool makes up 35% to 40% of its weight.
The washing process is intense and includes plunging the wool into a series of bowls of water containing chemical detergents. To remove the stubborn dirt that still remains after this, the wool is ‘carbonised’ by dropping it into a bath of sulphuric acid and water, heating it up, and crushing it.
Next, the wool is bleached with hydrogen peroxide, dyeing it white and readying it for coloured dyes. Some manufacturers apply the coloured dyes as the next step, while others save it for after the wool has been spun.
In general, wool can be dyed any number of colours but the classic greens, blues, reds, and browns are the most well-used colours for tweed.