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 beautiful and comfortable against the skin, but also tough enough to withstand the abrasion of years of use.
We have visited MTL many times and their operation, machines and people are amazing.
Mike Hillebrand in his Lynx Pattern All-Around Jacket. The Lynx Pattern requires a Jacquard Loom, but we actually weave all our Fabrics on the Jacquard, in Lynx Pattern. We use only one color Yarn for our solid colors. The Jacquard creates a 3-dimensional Fabric that offers superior performance in the weather.
Mike and Tom Hillebrand and the crew at MTL, hosted us in March of 2023, and Advisor Trustin Timber created a video about how WeatherWool is woven. This video has been added to our collection of videos, but can also be viewed here:
March 16, 2023 at MTL
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 (of greige). Imagine trying to organize and control with extreme precision 3000 strands of yarn 55 yards (50 meters) 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.
- Each piece (bolt) of our Fabric takes about 12 - 16 hours on the loom (exclusive of warping). That's a long time on a very expensive and complex machine operated by a very skilled technician
- 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!
The photo of Mike was taken 25 March 2021. At that time, we were planning to pick up at American Woolen Company the yarn from which MTL wove our Batch 6 Fabric. After the weaving, the Fabric went back to American Woolen Company where the loom-state Fabric was finished.
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.
MTL had to undertake significant adjustments to the width of their loom in order to create greige Fabric that could be finished at American Woolen. Most companies would not have been willing to undertake such a challenge on behalf of a relatively small client. We're very lucky that MTL actually wants clients that require them to do new or different things. Most companies (most people!) want to do what they've always done, and want to avoid change and chance.
We work with many Partners ... what we do would not be possible without them. We can't over-emphasize how we appreciate the support of MTL!
27 August 2023 ---- Ralph