Frieze (Freez). [So called from having been first made in ancient Friesland, the most northerly province of Holland] A heavy, shaggy, woolen cloth, covered with a thick nap forming little tufts, manufactured to some extent for blankets and clothing, but more especially for men's winter over coats. Perhaps no textile produced by Irish manufacturing skill is more justly celebrated or more widely known than Irish Frieze. The chief features which distinguish freize from all other cloths are its absolute imperviousness to rain and its extraordinary durability. This pertains of course to the genuine Irish Freize, not the counterfeit which of late years has been quite plentiful in American markets. The manufacturers of Ireland exercise particular care to select the longest and strongest wool from the best washed fleeces. This wool is first dyed in the mass, and afterwards, when spun, is doubled so as to resemble yarn. It is then woven, after which it is put through the thickening or fulling process. This consists of a prolonged washing and_sousing the cloth in a carefully-prepared solution slowly heated up to the boiling point, and then as slowly cooled again. This shrinks and thickens the fabric to such an extent that it becomes almost impossible, after cutting the goods, to separate one thread from another, so closely are they fulled, and so interdependent upon each other. The cloth is then finished with a nap, more or less heavy, as desired. [See Napping]

Century after century, so long that the mind of man runneth not to the contrary, freize has posed as the national cloth of Ireland, the distinctive dress of patriot, peasant and peer; and, since the 17th century has steadily remained an outward badge of the people's aspirations for nationality. For when England destroyed Ireland's commerce by the infamous Navigation Act of 1663, and the injured country began to promote its own manufacture, it was to the woolen industry that it turned its chief attention, and on which it founded its highest hopes for a revival for its prosperity. It was at this time that the making of frieze became the occupation of the women of every cottage; while the men tended the herds of sheep and prepared the wool, the colleens kept their spinning wheels whirling and their looms clacking with the materials for the great staple. And when in 1699 England made the exportation of woolen goods from Ireland a crime, and the people of Erin became too poor to use the finer qualities of cloths, they still had need of frieze in local trade and private use. In 1799, when the condition of the peasantry was most deplorable, they besought the king to interpose in their favor, and grant them leave to export and sell at least the coarse frieze blankets and flannels which the peasant wives and children produced in their cabins. But their appeal was in vain. The English Parliment that had ruined their trade and suppressed their most profitable manufactures, refused to allow them to dispose of the goods made by the hands of women and children. At last, when the volunteer movement triumphed, the unjust British laws were repealed, and the great trade of the colonies was thrown open to them. Frieze is still made in Ireland. No longer woven to any extent on hand-looms, it is produced with improved machinery, from beautiful patterns, by skillful workmen in prosperous mills. It is honest goods. There is no shoddy in it. Every thread is wool, and the wear is everlasting. Pure as the patriotism of the people who make it, simple as their nature, true as their love, it is typical of Irishmen, and deserves to have its name inseparably linked to theirs in its name of Irish Frieze.