Why the Thistle?

The weaver’s thistle, also called a carding thistle, has been cultivated for hundreds of years and was well renowned in ancient times; it supposedly soothed eye infections and cured lung diseases. At FRAAS, we are interested in its bristles; with out them, our scarves would not be as exquisite as they are.


Written by Horst Braunersreuther, for 35 years the textile finisher at FRAAS in Helmbrechts:

Thistle-Distel_FRAAS"For me, the weaver’s thistle is an unappreciated beauty. Nobody would ever answer the question about their favorite flower with ´the thistle.'

But I would; that’s because I work with it every day; I know that it is indispensable for our product finishing. Without this prickly plant our cashmere scarves would not have the luster that makes them so unique. We have been using the thistle at FRAAS since the company was founded in 1880. Why? Because its seed cone is something special. Specifically what’s on the outside, the countless little hooked bristles which are like no other tool to comb cashmere until it is perfectly soft. Better said, stroked.

You cannot just stroke over fine cashmere with a rough thistle – then the fine material could merely be used as a dish towel. The thistles must first be treated so that they don’t abrade too much. We dip our thistles in hot water and then roll them almost flat so that the bristles don’t stand too stiffly. Only then do we attach them by hand on rails, that are later fixed onto drums. Only the gentle stroking with the hooked bristles of the thistle strengthens the fibers. And that’s how we get the incredible softness that the customers so love about our cashmere scarves.

We are one of the very few companies that still does it this way. Even though this procedure is very labor-intensive, because the individual thistle cones must constantly be replaced - that’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. You will notice this when you try one of our cashmere scarves, it's our promise. You have never had anything so soft wrapped around your neck.”

 

The weaver’s thistle was used in ancient times for treating textiles. But when it comes to harvesting them, you must be prepared to be patient, because the carding thistle, doesn’t develop the egg-shaped prickly blossom head until its second year. Only in the autumn of its second year, is when the florets fall off and the cone dries out and the thistle begins its second life - as an indispensable part of our cashmere finishing.