What Is Jute?

What Is Jute?

Jute is one of the most versatile natural fibres known to man. Raw jute fibre is obtained from two varieties of plant: Corchorus capsularis and Corchorus Olitorius, both native to Bengal (modern day Bangladesh).

During the 19th and early 20th centuries jute was indispensable. Its uses included: sacking, ropes, boot linings, aprons, carpets, tents, roofing felts, satchels, linoleum backing, tarpaulins, sand bags, meat wrappers, sailcloth, scrims, tapestries, oven cloths, horse covers, cattle bedding, electric cable, even parachutes. Jute’s appeal lay in its strength, low cost, durability and versatility.

Jute would come into the mill as a pucca bale weighing 400 lbs. Packed tight it would feel hard as wood. From here it would go through nine different processes, finally emerging from the mill as the finished woven product.

The Process

The jute is batched by quality and colour and hand twisted into bundles or ‘heads’. It is then put through a softener and sprayed with a mixture of oil and water to penetrate the fibres.

The combing action of the pins on the carding machine ‘fleeces’ the jute before condensing it into a loose fibre called ‘sliver’. The process also further mixes the fibres.

The drawing frames make the sliver more uniform, straightening and reducing the fibres to a suitable size and weight for spinning.

Roving machines draw out the sliver even further and add a slight twist to strengthen the fibre. The twisted rove is then wound onto a bobbin for transfer to the spinning frame.

Spinning frames draw the fibres to the specified thickness or ‘count’, twist the fibres to bind them together in a continuous thread and wind the resulting yarn onto bobbins.

The bobbins are passed to the winding department where the yarn is wound onto spools to provide the ‘warp’ thread and onto ‘cops’ which fit into the shuttle and provide the ‘weft’ thread for weaving.

The spools from the winding department are loaded onto a frame from which the threads are drawn and wound onto a wooden reel or ‘swift’. Next the ends from the swift are pulled onto a beam, ready for fitting to the loom.

On the loom a picking arm carries the weft thread in the shuttle backwards and forwards across the loom, interlacing the weft with the warp threads.

The cloth is sent to the finishing department where it is cropped to shear off surplus fibres. The cloth is then ‘calendered’ by passing it under high pressure through heavy rollers to give a smooth, pressed finish.

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