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The A to Z of different wools and how to care for all your woollen clothing


Alpaca is a soft medium-weight fabric; it has a loose weave and silky texture. Alpaca fibres are usually mixed with sheep’s wool and other fibres to create a blend that has a wonderfully soft, light feeling to the fabric. Alpaca wool is mainly used for coats and suits.

Care: We recommend dry cleaning and cool iron. Fold instead of hanging, in a moth free environment for best results.

Boiled wool

Boiled wool is a heavy-weight fabric and is formed by shrinking woven or knitted wool fabric, (using water and mechanical agitation) to create a thick, non-fraying fabric, with a textured surface. Usually, this is either, pure wool or a wool-synthetic blend. As it is generally warm and weatherproof, boiled wool is mainly used to make cardigans, jackets and coats.

Care: Most jackets, coats and cardigans would need to be dry cleaned. Alternatively (if the care label states it), you can gentle cool hand wash (do not wring or rub) but avoid ironing. If your coat is slightly marked, you may want to shake or brush it out very carefully, a fine hired brush would be preferable, as you need to take care not to damage the wool


Cashmere is a very soft, fine fabric that is exceptionally comfortable and warm to wear. It is made from the fleece of the Kashmir goat. Mostly you will find it is used Coats, jumpers, scarves (like pashminas), hats and gloves.

Care: Hand wash or dry clean, do not iron. You may also find piling on your cashmere jumper after wearing, to keep it at its absolute best we highly recommend you either shave it or bring it into Farthings in Cambridge and Trumpington where we offer a de-bobbling service for all types of woollen wear.


Challis is a soft, lightweight, plain-weave wool that hangs extremely well. Also it is so easy to handle. It may be plain or printed, often with floral or paisley patterns. Its main use is for dresses.

Care: We would recommend you dry clean your items as it is a more favourable to the fabric. However, you can hand wash and warm iron using a damp cloth.


Coating is a heavy-weight, bulky woollen fabric. It sometimes has quite a coarse weave and may have a napped, soft-textured surface. As the name suggests, its main uses are for capes and coats.

Care: We would definitely recommend you only dry clean these items.


Crepe, a lovely lightweight, delicate, soft woollen fabric is created with an open weave and a springy, textured surface. It hangs very well and is used for dresses and suits.

Care: Hand wash or dry clean, only warm iron on the wrong side.

Double coating

Double coating is a heavy-weight, bulky reversible woollen fabric. It is made from two layers interlaced together. It is mainly used to make capes casual coats.

Care: For best results, dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side using a damp cloth.

Double jersey

Double jersey is a medium-weight supple wool fabric. It has fine vertical ribs on both sides; it is thicker and a lot firmer than a single jersey. This fabric is generally used for suits.

Care: For best results dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side using a damp cloth


Flannel is a medium-weight, strong wool fabric with a plain or twill weave. Like cotton flannel, it has a napped finish on one or both sides, wonderfully soft and cosy to touch. They are often used for suits, jackets, skirts and trousers.

Care: For best results, dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side.


Gabardine is a medium-weight, hardwearing fabric with a close twill weave. Gabardine may be pure wool or a mix of wool and other fibres such as or cotton polyester. It is largely used for coats, jackets, skirts and trousers.

Care: For best results, dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side using a damp cloth.


Mohair is produced from the fleece of the Angora goat; this is a heavy-weight, plain-weave fabric with a unique fluffy and hairy feeling. It is commonly mixed with sheep’s wool and is mostly used for coats, jumpers and hats.

Care: For best results, dry clean, cool iron on the wrong side with a dry cloth on the right side and a damp cloth next to the iron.

Silk-wool mix

Silk-wool mix is a gorgeous medium-weight soft fabric which combines the softness of wool with the sheen and lustre of silk - mainly used to make high-end suits, jackets, underwear and scarfs.

Care: For best results, dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side using a pressing cloth.

Single jersey

Single jersey, a light- to medium-weight knit is a wonderfully bouncy, flexible wool fabric. It has fine horizontal ribs on the wrong side and vertical ribs on the right side. Its main uses are for casual clothes and children’s wear.

Care: Dry cleaning or hand wash, avoid ironing.


Tartan is a fantastic checked, twill-weave, medium-weight woollen fabric that comes in a wide variety of colour schemes. The first mention of Tartan was in 1538 in Scotland. Breacan is the Scottish Gaelic name for Tartan. Today, it is famous all over the world and is instantly recognisable. Nowadays Tartan is mainly used for kilts, skirts, coats, dresses and sometimes trousers.

Care: Only dry clean and warm iron on the wrong side.


Tweed is a very traditional tweed is a heavy-weight, durable, coarse-textured fabric woven in mixed muted shades of wool. The fabric mostly tends to be either a plain-weave, twill or herringbone. It’s extremely hard-wearing, and very warm to wear. It is traditionally associated with Scotland (such as Harris tweed) and Ireland (Donegal tweed). Modern tweed is a similar thick, woven woollen fabric that is produced in a wider range of colours and patterns than traditional tweed. Tweed is most commonly used for coats, jackets and suits, caps and hats, Even used for skirts and dresses.

Care: Only dry clean, warm iron on the wrong side using a damp cloth.


Venetian is a wonderful medium-weight wool fabric is woven with either a twill or satin weave and has a lovely shiny finish. They are mainly used to make dresses, skirts, jackets and suits.

Care: Only dry clean, and warm iron.

Wool felt

Wool felt is a non-woven textile formed by pressing matting and fibres together. This forms a soft, dense non-fraying wool fabric which is generally a medium- to heavy-weight. This can be either a pure wool or a wool-polyester mix. It is mainly used to make hats and slippers. Sometimes bags and purses are also made with this textile.

Care: A very gentle cool hand wash (Never wring or rub) and avoid ironing.


Worsted is a lovely medium to heavy-weight woollen fabric with a soft smooth and flattened surface. As it is tightly woven, it is very hardwearing and does not sag easily. This fabric is mainly used for suits and coats.

Care: Only dry clean and a warm iron using a damp cloth.

It is essential to have a look at the care label instructions for each of the fabrics mentioned above. We would highly recommend you take the time read any of the manufacturer's guidelines on the garments labels for care instructions, as they would have done many tests to give you the right care advice for each item.

Of course, at Farthings in Cambridge and Trumpington, we would love to hear from you. If you have any queries concerning your fabulous knitwear or anything in general concerning the care of your garments, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email.

Alternatively, you can drop by in person at either of our two branches in Cambridge and Trumpington, we would be more than happy to see you and give any advice needed.


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