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Margaret’s Cleaners Dictionary

L

Lamb's Wool Linen Lycra Lyocell Fiber
Lousy Silk
       

Lamb’s Wool

Elastic, soft, resilient wool fibers obtained from lambs when they are 7 or 8 months old. It’s the first or virgin clipping of the animal and is used in better grades of fabrics.

Linen

Embroidery on LinenA fabric made from linen fibers obtained from inside the woody stem of the flax plant. Linen fibers are much stronger and more lustrous than cotton. Linen fabrics are very cool and absorbent, have no fuzziness, don’t soil quickly, and have a natural luster and stiffness. It can wrinkle very easily, unless blended with manufactured fibers. Linen is one of the oldest textile fibers. Uses of linen include tablecloths, canvas, sails, tents, paper, toweling, dress linens, doilies, sportswear, and more. Due to its strength, in the Middle Ages linen was used for shields and gambesons, as well as for underwear and other clothing.

When linen fibers are twisted together (spun), it is called yarn. It is strong, durable, and resists rotting in damp climates. It is one of the few textiles that has a greater breaking strength wet than dry. It has a long “staple” (individual strand length) compared to cotton and other natural fibers.

Up until the 1950’s or so the finest linen yarn was made in Scotland, Ireland, and Belgium. The climates of these locations were ideal for natural processing methods called “retting.” As years went by many of the finest factories in those areas closed, and most linen is currently made in China.

The decrease in use of linen may be attributed to the increasing quality of synthetic fibers, and a decreasing appreciation of buyers for very high quality yarn and fabric. Very little top-quality linen is produced now, and most is used in low volume applications like hand weaving and as an art material.

Due to its one-time common use to make fine fabric, “linens” became the generic term for sheets and pillowcases, although these are now often made of cotton or synthetic fibers. Linen is available in different qualities varying from almost silk-like to sack-linen. Linen is usually white to ivory, may be washed at 95°C, and should be ironed when damp. A characteristic often associated with linen yarn is the presence of “slubs,” or small knots that occur randomly along its length. However, these are actually defects associated with low quality. The finest linen has a very consistent diameter with no slubs. When being washed the first time, linen shrinks significantly.

Lousy Silk

"Lousy Silk" is a term used to describe a silk or silk blend, such as cotton & silk, that looks fuzzy. It may look as if lint is the culprit, but the use of a lint roller or other lint-removing device will not help. Close examination reveals that the yarns in the fibers have worked into small balls on the fabric surface and/or protruded up through the fabric to the surface.

This condition develops from an inherent weakness in the particular yarns used in the textile finishing. Although the yarns were weakened, additional processing at the mill pressed the surface yarns down flat. With the flexing of use and the mechanical action of dry cleaning, the problem is worsened. There is no method of correction available and it is the inherent nature of the manufacturing that causes this problem.

Lycra (See Spandex)

INVISTA’s trademark for a synthetic fiber material with elastic properties of the sort known generically as spandex. Lycra is commonly used in athletic or active clothing.

Lyocell Fiber

This manufactured fiber is made from wood pulp cellulose, the main material in plant cells. It was first manufactured in 1992, and is now manufactured under the trademarked brand name Tencel. The F.T.C. classifies Lyocell as a sub-category of rayon, and possesses many properties of other cellulose fibers, such as cotton, linen, ramie, and rayon. It’s a manufactured but non-synthetic fiber. The production process of Lyocell is considered extremely environmentally friendly. It has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% biodegradable and recyclable. It’s soft, strong, absorbent, wrinkle-resistant, shrink-resistant, has excellent wet strength, dyes well, and can be hand washed or dry cleaned (depending on the care label). Lyocell fabrics can simulate the looks of silk, suede or even leather. The fiber is used in the production of many clothes, such as jeans, dresses, slacks, and coats, and is used as well in hygiene, medical and technical applications.

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