After burling came napping, or as it was also called, raising. Here the cloth was hung on vertical frames and its ‘nap’ (outer fibres) was raised in preparation for the work of the shearman. The trade used wooden hand frames shaped like crosses. The long arm of each frame formed a handle, while each crosspiece held a dozen or more prickly seed heads from the teasel plant. Brushing the cloth with these ‘teased out’ the cloth’s fibres.


Teasels are tall plants which produce many small purple flowers in domed-shaped clusters. In late summer seed heads are left covered in hundreds of small, hooked spikes. Teasels appear in several varieties, but the kind most prized by the woollen cloth trade is known as ‘fuller’s teasel’.

Even today teasels are often used to raise the nap of the best woollen cloths. Where there is a need for very fine and even naps, such as in the making of professional-level snooker tables, no machine has yet been found to match the gentle action produced by the teasel plant.

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