More on Wool and Linen: the poetic and specific aspects of Lyonesse

More on Wool and Linen: the poetic and specific aspects of Lyonesse

The poetic and  mystical side of Lyonesse is captured in Walter de la Mare’s poem:

Sunk Lyonesse

In sea-cold Lyonesse,
When the Sabbath eve shafts down
On the roofs, walls, belfries
Of the foundered town,
The Nereids pluck their lyres
Where the green translucency beats,
And with motionless eyes at gaze
Make ministrelsy in the streets.

And the ocean water stirs
In salt-worn casement and porch.
Plies the blunt-nosed fish
With fire in his skull for torch.
And the ringing wires resound;
And the unearthly lovely weep,
In lament of the music they make
In the sullen courts of sleep:
Whose marble flowers bloom for aye:
And – lapped by the moon-guiled tide –
Mock their carver with heart of stone,
Caged in his stone-ribbed side.

Useful information on fibre characteristics, which we found

recently is summarised in the table below.





Low to moderate strength, weaker when wet

Standard regain 13-18%

Good heat insulator, low heat conductivity, highly absorbent to 40%

Elastic, good stretch and recovery except in very moist conditions, resists repeated flexing, absorbs shocks

Will felt if agitated in warm water

Fairly abrasion resistant

Degrades and chars on heating, burns very slowly even in contact with a flame

Strong, good tensile strength, 20% stronger when wet

Standard regain 12%

Good heat conductivity and water absorption

Rigid fibre, creases on bending, breaks with repeated flexing, low elongation at break but fairly elastic at low elongation

Stable shape and size

Resists abrasion

Highly flammable





Susceptible to moth attacks, quite resistant to mildew

Slow degradation and yellowing in contact with sunlight

Vulnerable to bases, even in low dilutions, resistant to acids

Good resistance to insects and micro-organisms, only susceptible to mildew in extremely moist conditions

Slow degradation by sunlight

Resists acids, bases, chemical bleaches





High to moderate lustre

Natural colours: white, cream, brown, grey, black

Readily dyed and good colourfastness

Dull fibre, more lustrous if beaten

Natural colours: white, golden yellow, silver grey

Accepts dyes, but the application of a mordant improves fastness





Stiffness varies with breed and fibre diameter

Warm, soft/moderate/rough, drapes well

Soft, cool, crisp and smooth

This really shows how complementary the two fibres are and how each can support the other.