Wool Super Numbers
Increasingly in ready to wear, you see wool advertised as “Super 100s” etc. What does this mean? Super numbers define how thin wool yarn is – the higher the number, the finer the wool. We have seen how cotton Super numbers are defined by rather an archaic formula: with wool it has been reduced to a simple measurement.
The width of wool fibres are measured in microns (one millionths of a metre). The table below shows the different grades of Super numbers:
The theory is that the thinner and finer the wool, the softer and more refined the garment is. However, many of our customers actually opt for a Super 90s or even 80s fabric, such as a Dugdale plainweave.
This is because thicker yarn has some advantages: the extra weight in the cloth helps it to drape better; the thicker yarn makes it more resilient; and thicker yarns hold a crease better as well. Delicate fibres should be packed close together in a good tight weave, otherwise the cloth will be very weak. Heavier yarns can be in a tight close weave or they can be used in a more open weave allowing great breathability while retaining their durability.
The customer can judge softness by touch but the quality of construction is very hard to find out until a year or two down the line when it is too late. The quality of British weaving is second to none and it focuses on longevity and durability. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t be seduced by the feel of a cloth or Super numbers, and every cloth has its good points and bad points – and trust your tailor to guide you!