Worsted Wool

Worsted is a high-quality type of wool yarn. It is named after the small English village of Worstead, in the county of Norfolk and this village was a center for manufacturing in the twelfth century.

During the Middle Ages, common agricultural practices were in flux because new breeds of sheep were being introduced in England. These sheep were raised in enclosed pastures with plenty of nice tall grass. In other words, these sheep produced long wool that we call long staple wool (A staple, in the context of textiles, is a cluster or lock of wool fibres). On the other hand, the older breeds of sheep that preferred more challenging environments produced short staple wool.

Concurrently, England was experiencing a migration of Flemish textile weavers. Many of which came to Norfolk. Before long, weaving now came to define the Worstead area. And yes, the type of cloth was soon known only as “worsted.”