One of the interesting tensions in a factory visit is the way machinery is portrayed. Some manufacturers will boast of their old, traditional methods, when in fact the same thing could be done, quicker, by a newer machine – they just can’t afford it.
However, one traditional method that is still considered superior among weavers is ‘raising’ the cloth with teasels (the brown thing poking out of my buttonhole above). Raising is a combing-like process that lifts fibres up out of the cloth. For many materials, you can do this very effectively with artificial spiked-objects (they look a little like hair rollers). But for anything other than the lightest cashmeres, teasels are still the best.
The dried flower heads are placed along a rack and combed across the surface of the cashmere. Their size and positioning seems to make quite a difference – Begg switched suppliers and brought the rack construction in-house in order to gain greater control over it. The exact arrangement is proprietorial information.
Overall at Begg, however, it was great to see a company blending both old and new with confidence – new designs and washes, old methods and traditions. More on the factory next week.
The jacket above is my Elia Caliendo tweed – very suitable for a Scotland trip and in keeping with the colours of the landscape. The pocket handkerchief is a cream cashmere square from Anderson & Sheppard. I find it a nice, casual mirror to a suit’s white-linen hank. Worth another photo at some point.