Can tweed be water resistant?

Fortuno

New Member
I inherited a reversible Aquascutum mac / raincoat, one side is cotton gabardine while the other tweed. Can i wear the "tweed side" on rain? can it repel/ resist water eventually?
 
You don't want to get caught in a torrential rainstorm in tweed (trust me on this), but it's fine in a drizzle. If you get particularly damp and then come into an over-heated room, it'll smell like wet wool for a minute or two. It takes much less time to soak through than worsted wool or cotton.
 

Anthony Charton

Super Member
In my experience Tweed isn't a nice thing to get wet. Why ? The odour. Tweed is dyed with lichen and produces an unpleasant, though bearable smell when wet.
 

Langham

Honors Member
I inherited a reversible Aquascutum mac / raincoat, one side is cotton gabardine while the other tweed. Can i wear the "tweed side" on rain? can it repel/ resist water eventually?

Most tweeds will repel light rain for some time - the more 'hairy' types of tweed can be quite good for this. However, with a reversible Aquascutum, I think it is more usual to wear the gabardine 'raincoat' side outermost, in rain.
 

Mr Humphries

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The favoured cloth for suits worn by the landed peerage in the House of Lords was Harris Tweed for two reasons:
1/. It was symbolic. Each great estate had its own tweed just as clans had tartans.
2/. It was very tough - ideal for shooting on ones estate - and hence a suit could last generations.


It's one drawback was the method of it's manufacture. Sheeps' wool does not hold dye well so requires a chemical MORDANT to fix it. In the Tweed manufacturing areas this was usually stale human urine. The cloth when it came off the loom was also loosely woven and needed to be 'fulled' to thicken it up and make it weather proof. This was also done using stale human urine. The process of kneeding and beating the urine soaked fabric was known as 'waulking'.


Whilst this made the life of the tweed weaver unappealing it had little effect on the wearer of the garments - unless that garment became wet, when the faint smell of stale human urine would rise off it.


Hence after a rain shower the House of Lords, or rather the hereditary peers in their old Tweeds, would smell of stale urine. With the removal of most of the hereditaries from the House (and with the introduction of chemical mordants) this smell has all but disappeared.


- Cheaper fabrics were fulled by machine and then dried on frames called tenters. The fabric was attached to the frame by metal hooks, hence the term, 'on tenterhooks'.


SOURCES: Shaw, M.F. Folksongs and folklore of South Uist
Campbell & Collinson. Hebridean Folksongs.

https://www.savilerowsporting.co.uk/PDF/Tweed.pd

Human urine contains a substance called urea which decomposes to form ammonia. It was used throughout the textile industry – from cleaning the raw wool to acting as a mordant for the finished cloth. It was therefore a hugely valuable commodity.


Lant, as it was known, was collected locally from pots people left on their doorsteps and collecting places in the streets. Lant troughs can still be seen in the hills around Calderdale. Titus Salt installed indoor toilets at Salts Mill in Bradford with separate cubicles for redheads and Methodists – their's was considered to be of better quality – the Methodists as there would be no alcohol in it and redheads from some obscure reason not known to us.


This was never enough, especially for the Alum industry,where it was brought in from Newcastle and Hull – and then later on shipped up from London. In November and December 1612, 16,000 gallons of "country urine" and 13,000 gallons of "London urine" were taken to the alum works at Sandsend.


It is said that this is where the expression 'taking the piss' comes from – and the politer version 'taking the mick' coming from taking the micturation.


Urine still has its uses – from peeing in the compost heap where it is excellent as an activator, to the rehydration of rations by US soldiers.


Genuine Harris Tweed is made from pure virgin wool produced in Scotland, spun, dyed and finished in Outer Hebrides and hand-woven by the islanders at their own homes in the Islands of Lewis , Harris, Uist, Barra and their several purtenances and all known as the Outer Hebrides. Urine would of course be used in its manufacture which perhaps gives rise to the story of the faint whiff of urine in the House of Lords on a damp rainy day.


Makes my redheaded Geordie heart swell with pride....
 
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Langham

Honors Member
^^ Mr Humphries, you have proved yourself an excellent raconteur and source of information. I have been present in both Houses of Parliament, and have often wondered about the source of the curious smells there.

I would only question your statement about Harris tweed being tough. Some types of tweed certainly are tough and hard-wearing, but my experience with Harris - excellent though the cloth undoubtedly is - has been that after some years of wear, it can be quite prone to wear and sag, and even fray, hence the archetypical leather-bound cuffs and leather elbow patches sometimes worn.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
You don't want to get caught in a torrential rainstorm in tweed (trust me on this), but it's fine in a drizzle. If you get particularly damp and then come into an over-heated room, it'll smell like wet wool for a minute or two. It takes much less time to soak through than worsted wool or cotton.

Yup!

:thumbs-up: :thumbs-up: :thumbs-up:
 

Mr Humphries

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Alas Langham the above paragraphs are not my own but gleaned from t'interweb. I should have enclosed them in quotes.

W.
 

Fortuno

New Member
Great posts indeed guys! Interesting and fun. I guess I'll wear it on its gabardine side when its raining badly, I wouldnt want to end up smelling like ... the House of Lords
 
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