What is a Teazel?

People often ask us what a Teazel (or sometimes Teasel) is, and why we have it as our company name.

The answer to the second question is dead easy, we just liked the name!

The answer to the first question is a little more interesting.

A teazel is a wild plant that is common here in the UK. It is easily identified by its prickly stem and leaves, which dry out in late summer. The seeds are important winter food for birds, and its growth is encouraged in some nature reserves. However, in the US its considered to be an invasive species since its not native, and can crowd out other native plants.

Also, bizarrely, it is a partial carnivore - dead insects that get stuck in the plant have been proven to improve its seed output.
[Carnivory in the Teasel Dipsacus fullonum — The Effect of Experimental Feeding on Growth and Seed Set (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3060873/)]

Picture of a Teasel


Whilst visiting the The National Wool Museum Wales) we found a Teasel Machine - see below. The text from their sign explains what the device does:

Teasel Machine

Teasel Machine - Zoomed In


Teasel Machine - Sign From this sign (taken at The National Wool Musuem Wales)

Nature Meets Machine

Teazels were traditionally used to 'comb' the surface of damp wollen cloth by hand to make it soft and fluffy. This is called 'raising the nap'.

This machine was invented to make this process faster and more efficient. The teasel gig contains 3000 prickly teasels in an iron frame and is powered by electricity. The cloth passed over the teasels, giving it a more even, fluffy finish.

Nature and machines

The teasel gig is a curious mix of the natural and man-made. It combined the hand processes of the pass with the precision engineering - the future of the textile industry.

Teasels from Somerset

A 'Teasel Man' travelled from mill to mill renewing the teasels in the gigs. It was a very skilled job at the teasels heads had to be carefully arranged to ensure the cloth was finished evenly. Most of the teasels came from specialist gardens in Somerset.

Wooly Words

The latin word for teasel is Dispacus fullonum, or the fullers' thistle. Fulling is part of the process of finishing the cloth.`