How is a colour created?
To create each coloured thread, at Lanificio Paoletti wool staple fibres of different colours are intermixed, and all the pigments are carefully selected and blended like in an artist’s studio. This is the secret of this potpourri of different shades that characterizes our mélange wool fibres.
The skill of wool mixing has ancient roots, of which we have a precious testimony in our archive. The first kept felts date back to the beginning of the 1900s: small samples of milled and compressed wool, on which name of colour and composition are beautifully hand-written. Little has changed since then. Today, wool mixing is still based on a recipe that determines the proportions of colours and qualities to mix, in order to obtain the same impression of the sample felt.
After this first experimental step, that aims at recreating the sample felts’ same impression, the yarns production cycle can finally begin.
Wool staples are transported inside the wool opening machine, which separates the different fibres by combining mechanical movements and ventilation, to drop down possible impurities.
After being brought to a first silos, the wool is then mechanically blended as if it were in a huge saucepan. In a second rotating cylinder, the olein distribution takes place, a necessary emulsion that makes the movement of the fibres during the spinning step much easier. During the washing that precedes the arrival of the bales of wool at the factory, the different wool staples lose their natural lubricant: lanolin.
During this phase wool rubbing builds up static electricity in this living material, which needs 24 hours rest inside specific rooms before starting the spinning process.
As previously said in the post dedicated to fancy yarns, tweed is born exactly from the wool mixing procedure. A special feature of Lanificio Paoletti’s tweed is the boutonné or buttoned effect, which derives from the rubbing that the wool staples undergo in this first processing phase. In the mix we have short-flax fibres that, instead of running parallel to the other fibres, become matted and form some particular lumps that look like tiny buttons. When the buttons are the same colour as the background wool, the type of boutonné is identified with Knickerbocker fabric, originally used to produce sportswear trousers. If the buttons are of different colours from the background wool, the fabric is traditionally called Donegal, from the Irish county where this working process was born.