In 2012, Material Technology and Logistics wove the first Fabric that met our Hardcore Luxury® specifications ... the first WeatherWool® Fabric. And MTL has woven all our Fabric ever since. THANK YOU Mike Hillebrand (founder and owner) and everyone at MTL!! Adding the Jacquard weaving technique really super-charged the performance of our wool.
MTL is a customized weaver, mostly serving the furniture and upholstery industry. This huge market has some very specific needs for both performance and appearance. I'd never thought about it before, but upholstery obviously needs to be very comfortable against the skin, but also tough enough to withstand the abrasion of years of use.
MTL is presently working on our next batch of Fabric ... about 2200 yards ... enough for about 700 garments.
We have visited MTL a couple of times and their operation, machines and people are amazing.
Jacquard Weaving is an extremely capital-intensive business ... both in terms of money and people. It is also extremely complex. What follows is my best understanding. My understanding is growing, but there is an awful lot more that I don't know than I do know (as usual).
- Our Fabric bolts as they come off the Jacquard loom are about 60 inches (152 cm) wide and about 55 yards (50 meters) long
- The strands of yarn that run lengthwise through a bolt of fabric are called WARP
- The strands running horizontally are known as WEFT
- In our Fabric, there are about 50 warp yarns in EVERY INCH (2.5 cm) of Fabric ... so about 3000 warp yarns from left to right across the entire bolt. Imagine trying to organize and control with extreme precision 3000 strands of yarn 55 yards long ... packed tightly together, side by side. And we aren't even talking about the weaving yet!
- With our Lynx Pattern, there are four different colors woven together. The warp is KHAKI, and the weft colors are NATURAL, TAUPE and BROWN
- Basically, the weft is woven left and right, over and under the warp fibers, and the Jacquard loom is programmed to create the Lynx Pattern by bringing any of the four colors to the surface at specific points in the pattern.
- The most common looms are known as Dobby looms, and they can create solid colors and geometric patterns such as the well-known green and black-check "lumberjack" pattern. A Dobby loom handles warp and weft that run top to bottom and left-right.
- A Jacquard loom adds the capability of exposing different color wefts wherever desired. A Jacquard loom can be programmed (the Jacquard loom was a huge step toward early computers) to weave a faithful portrait, and a Jacquard is necessary to create our Lynx Pattern.
- Because all of the weft colors are available at any point of the fabric, the Jacquard loom also creates a sort of three-dimensional fabric that has weather-resistant properties that are absolutely critical for us. I didn't know about any of this in the years when we were developing our Fabric. But what I did know was that the weather-resistant performance I required did not start to appear until we were working on our Lynx Pattern. I later learned that virtually the entire garment industry makes solid colors on Dobby looms because the fabric is much less expensive using the Dobby ... but the Hardcore performance is just not there without the three-dimensional weave of the Jacquard.
- All of our Fabrics, including our solid colors, are actually woven in Lynx Pattern. But with our solids (Black, Drab and Duff), all the warp and weft yarns are the same colors. If you look closely at our solid colors, particularly if you look at the Fabric at an angle, you can see the pattern. Even in the solid colors, the Lynx Pattern Jacquard weave causes light to bounce off the various strands at different angles, and this helps the solid colors to disappear in Nature.
- More photos and pictures on the Weaving Page.
On 7 August, 2020 (while in Wyoming for our son's wedding!) we approved the pictured "loom state" sample of FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric received from MTL. I love the Teton Range in the background!
As of 31 August, 2020, Mike tells us MTL has received the yarn needed to complete weaving this run of our FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric. The yarn was sent to MTL from American Woolen Company, where it was dyed and spun. After the weaving, MTL will return the loom state Fabric to AWC, where it will be go through the finishing process.
FullWeight Lynx Pattern Fabric going through final inspection on 2 September 2020. All MTL products are inspected visually, very slowly, inch-by-inch, before they are considered complete. This "piece" (bolt of Fabric), about 55 running yards (about 50 meters) will be "finished" at American Woolen.
We work with many Vendors ... what we do would not be possible without them. We can't over-emphasize how we appreciate the support of MTL!
6 September 2020 ---- Ralph