The dictionary is one big book. This morning, while poking along in mid-B, what should appear but “bombazine”. Bombazine is a fabric originally made of silk or silk and wool. Quality bombazine, according to Wiki, is made with a silk warp and a worsted weft. Black bombazine was once used largely for mourning wear, but the material had gone out of fashion by the beginning of the 20th century. The name comes from our pals, the French.
The name, bombazine, got me to thinking about cloth, and how many names there are for types of fabric. There’s Chintz, which from its onetime wild popularity and overuse, gave us the word “chintzy”. There’s a heavy cotton material, a type of canvas, called “duck”. Duck? I’ve got a duck Carhartt jacket in the mudroom closet. Maybe you do too.
If you ever read the “Little House on the Prairie” books, you may recall references to Ma’s or sister Mary’s “lawn dress”. That wasn’t because they were living in a sod house. Lawn was a fairly common dress fabric of those “Little House” times. When lawn is made using combed yarns, it acquires a softer feel and slight luster, and is known as “nainsook”.
There is a Vineyard connection to the cloth “satinet”. Satinet was at one time made in West Tisbury. The material is a hard-wearing wool or wool blend fabric. The garden club’s old mill, next to the dam at the Mill Pond in West Tisbury, was built in the 1700s, to serve as a grist mill. The mill was subsequently purchased by David Look in 1809, when it was converted to the manufacture of this cloth. Does anyone on the Vineyard still have a piece of this locally made wondercloth?
Below is a short list of cloth names, A’s and B’s only. These cloth types were taken from a list of 289. There’s a whole alphabet’s worth more, finishing with “zibeline”, which is a soft, piled wool.
You could write a book on all the different types of cloth. Heck, an encyclopedia.
Greetings from your weft-wing, warped-minded logophile.