Lochcarron – Mill visit
T H E S C O T T I S H B O R D E R S
Earlier this year I visited Lochcarron fabric mill in Selkirk, Scotland. I first worked with Lochcarron whilst sourcing fabric for my graduate collection at university, and again whilst sourcing tartan for Tom Lane’s first collection of shirts.
Lochcarron produce the finest quality of tartan wool. Their cloth is made in different weights, making it suitable for many uses from upholstery to apparel. ‘Reiver’ is their lightest weight and was ideal for the ‘Wanderer’ shirts due to its performance properties and durability. Their cloth is available in over 500 tartans.
As a performance fabric, wool is breathable, multi-climatic, extremely durable and easy to look after. It also resists dirt as it retains a small amount of natural oil.
Other properties of wool include it being natural and renewable, it uses less energy than man-made fibers during the manufacturing process. It has a higher ignition threshold than many fibers and is flame retardant up to 600’c. It is also biodegradable.
On a tour round the mill I was able to experience the scale in which this tartan is produced and the craftsmanship that goes into making it.
The Process … DYEING > THE YARN STORE > WARPING > KNOTTING > WEAVING > DARNING
The yarn is dyed and spun. It is then wound onto cones ready for making into cloth.
In weaving cloth, the warp is the set of lengthways yarns that are held in tension on the loom. It can take days to set up a loom for a particular tartan.
Finishing can include washing, drying, milling, brushing, pressing or cropping. They can also add Teflon and fireproof finishings.
When the cloth is finished, every inch is inspected in the darning room. Here I found 3 ladies sat at tables inspecting the cloth, both front and back. It is then taken to the warehouse, ready to be dispatched.