The Teasel Industry

The cultivated teasel (not the wild ones) were first planted here in the 1840’s by John Snook from seed he brought from England, where they had been used for centuries to comb the nap of woolen goods. The soil in Skaneateles was ideally suited, and locally grown teasels soon gained a reputation as superior to the imported varieties. As this reputation spread, it became a major cash crop for local farmers and Skaneateles became known as “The Teasel Capital of the World”. Below is a display of farmer’s special tools.

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Shown below is the teasel plant with the tallest “king” bud which was used on the rotating drum, mounted on spindles. This drum, called a gig, would rotate against the woolen goods, raising the nap, making it soft. The teasel bristles (bracts) were ideally suited for this task and were used until the 1950s when they were replaced by steel wire.

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