There are two simple passions in my life: corduroy and the love of ironing. To iron corduroy is the greatest pleasure but even the smell of crisp clean cotton under steam brings out a joy otherwise surpressed. The simple challenges of darts, tucks and pleats are true beauty as is the satisfaction of an empty ironing basket and a cupboard full of clothes cleaned, pressed and ready to slip into. Most people would think “you’re crazy” but, as a passion, it’s entirely harmless and gives me a sense of pleasure.
To be honest, ironing is like any kind of cleaning job, mindless, yet you have a tangible, satisfying, positive result at the end. Yet, to me, it’s almost some type of meditation: ironing Zen, enlightment through sweet aromas, warmth of fabric to the hand and the removal of creases in that fabric. Being at one with the board (mine, a super cheap metallic and aquamarine covered friend) and the powered heat producer. Being somewhat minimal in my taste, it’s a cheap, yet trusty, travel iron in burgundy and white. A thing of beauty unsullied by limescale or over-heating.
I used to iron watching a film or the TV but it distracted from the pure simple pleasure of the ironing. Now I iron with the laptop belting out music. For me the best is a bit of Hard House, Lisa Lashes is the present favourite, but overall anything with a pounding beat does the trick. And at 240 BPM you soon get into a trance-like state.
Now you see some people take ironing to extremes and call it, strangely enough, Extreme Ironing. They pack their boards up mountains, dive to the ocean floor or attempt to iron clothes in a fast-moving boat or while bungee-jumping. Not my style though, compared to them, my ironing ways are unimaginably dull. But it gives me unbridled pleasure and meditative, contemplative time, unhurried and at one with the tools, the fabrics and my own soul. Now for part two: Corduroy.
Corduroy is a beautiful fabric composed of twisted fibres that, when woven, lie parallel to one another, forming the cloth’s distinct pattern, Modern corduroy is most commonly composed of tufted cords, sometimes exhibiting a channel (bare to the base fabric) between the tufts. Corduroy is, in essence therefore, a ridged form of velvet and who doesn’t love velvet. However, as a fabric, corduroy is a far more durable cloth than velvet and its beauty is found in trousers, shirts and super-soft jackets.
At risk of getting a bit technical, corduroy is made by weaving extra sets of fibre into the base fabric to form vertical ridges called wales. The wales are built so that clear lines can be seen when they are cut into pile and the width of the cord is commonly referred to as the size of the “wale” (i.e. the number of ridges per inch). The lower the “wale” number, the thicker the width of the wale (e.g., 4-wale is much thicker than 11-wale). Corduroy’s wale count per inch can vary from 1.5 to 21, although the traditional standard falls somewhere between 10 and 12. Wide wale is more commonly used in trousers and furniture upholstery whereas medium, narrow, and fine wale fabrics are usually found in garments worn above the waist. Other names exist for corduroy such as corded velveteen, elephant cord, pin cord, Manchester cloth and and the plain and simple cord.
But what makes corduroy special is the process of colouring it with pigment dyes. The dye is applied to the surface of the fabric after the garment is cut and sewn. When washed, during the final phase of the manufacturing process, the pigment dye washes out in an irregular way, creating a vintage look. Thereafter the colour of each garment becomes softer with each washing and as such, there is a subtle colour variation from one garment to another. No two are alike, each is unique, just as are the beautiful people who dare to don it. G’wan, get yourself out and get some.