For much of Britain there was only one indigenous source of raw material for fabrics – sheep’s wool. To this was added linen, made from flax, mostly from Ireland; cotton from America (but extensively processed in England); silk and hemp.
These natural materials were processed in various ways to produce fabrics with different characteristics, often in places after which they were named.
Welsh costume was normally made of wool, some of which was processed into flannel.
Woollen yarn was also knitted into stockings and hats.
There is some evidence that Welsh fabrics were also made with mixtures of fibres:
- Welsh wool mixed with wool from other places (sometimes known as minco)
- cotton warp and wool weft (sometimes known as linsey-woolsey or Union cloth)
- linen warp and wool weft (linsey-woolsey or Union cloth);
- silk and wool, (silk linsey, metel, brethyn fetel, fetel dau-liwiog). For a short period, silk was produced in Wales)
Mary Curtis, writing in 1877 refers to minco which she defined as ‘composed of yarn and worsted; the worsted is of a coarse kind; the yarn is the wool.’(Mary Curtis, The Antiquities of Laugharne, Pendine and their Neighbourhoods. (written in 1877), 2nd edition 1880, 40-44)
This term minco was also used by T. J. Llewelyn Prichard,’The Cardiganshire women’s dresses, … generally blue, with red stripes, and bound at the bottom with red or blue tape—are entirely of wool, solidly woven and heavy, consequently more expensive than those made of linsey or minco, or of the common intermixture of wool and cotton, and presenting an appearance of weighty warmth …’ (The Adventures and Vagaries of Twm Shon Catti; Descriptive of Life in Wales (1828), p. 48) ‘