Knitting & Hosiery Knitting: Technological compulsions of quality

Excellent comfort properties of weft knits have made their entry into formal wears for men and women. But with the technological advancement in manufacturing of cloths and the awareness of consumers to quality, the expectations in knit goods too have gone high. However, knit goods are known for their high structural sensitiveness to deformation during manufacturing process or at their end use. The research work of the past focused on macro level aspects of quality control while the market demand today is on micro level. The quality criteria in the future will be much different than what is being counted today. The improvement of knit structure at micro level calls for better understanding of mechanics of loop formation, fluidity of knit structures and their influence on quality of knit fabrics. The quality of hosiery yarn has to be considered with due weightage to these aspects. If they are not addressed, probably satisfying the customer at global level may become difficult. This article aims at initiating a thought provoking process on above lines for assessing fabric quality as well as that of yarn for manufacturing superior quality fabrics apart from highlighting role of certain yarn properties on knit fabrics. The technological compulsions, not of the knitting machine technology but of the future demand of quality level in the fabric by the customer and also progress in technology in assessing fabric quality leading to reconsideration of machine, material and process parameters at micro level on for superior in yarn quality are explained. Quality of knit fabrics At present knit fabric quality is decided by few physical parameters namely GSM, loop dimensions (loop length, wales and courses per unit length), fabric width, dimensional stability and defects in the fabrics. However, aesthetic value of the fabric or the appeal to the customer regarding the fabric, which ultimately accounts for satisfying the customer, is not measured by these parameters. At the same time the comfort properties of the fabric like smoothness and fluidity of loops that influences shear and low stress mechanical properties are also not sufficiently covered by above listed parameters. Further, more than just the stability of the fabric/garment, for which knits are known to be poor, the localised variation in dimension would hamper the appearance and useful life of it. Though objective assessment of these parameters is not possible commercially today, with the introduction of image analysis technique for fabric quality inspection such an assessment may become reality in the future. The customer too may consider subjective assessment of the same by observing the garment under different light sources that enhances the localised variation and get a feel of quality level. Parameters of fabric quality

The development of a suitable instrument to measure individual loops for their dimensions could be practically possible.3[3]. In woven fabrics those produced on shuttleless machines are better in appeal to eyes than those from auto-looms or plain powerlooms. at points A. If any other method is suitable that can be explored. Typical examples of uniform and twisted/deformed loops[4] are shown in Figure 2 (a) and (b) respectively. ie. as it eliminates blurring effect of irregular dimensions. The present day image analysis technique may be the appropriate technology for this purpose. B. The bending of crown and sinker loop should be to an equal depth and without twisting or turning. The geometrical shape of the loop. The uniformity in geometrical shape of the loop is another parameter. Such structures can be more resilient because the mobility of loops or redistribution of yarn in loops during any deformation would be easier. The fabric would be more elegant. chemical processing or during usage resulting in dullness. As the measurement of yarn imperfection for a unit length of 10 mm is made possible and with statistical quality control it is capable of representing a whole lot of yarn or the production of a large spinning mill. for research purpose it can be executed with satisfactory accuracy. Obviously higher the uniformity better is the appearance and texture of the cloth or say appeal to . In most of the structures the loop is distorted during relaxation. The shape factor. its variation. C and D in Figure 1[5]. lustrous. group of loops in few wales and courses covering a small area in the fabric having dimension different from their neighbouring group of loops. rough or ridged effect in the fabric. etc can be assessed by the same image analysis technique.The quality of fabrics at micro level could be. softer and stable. The important loop dimensions are loop length. ratio of width to height of the loop should be about 1. smoother. A standard loop shape is shown in Figure 1 for single jersey structure[1]. The contact places of yarn in loop interlacement should be at the junction of loop arm and the crown/sinker loop. is again a common problem but goes as accepted till it leads to an unpleasant appearance. This is like better cover in woven fabric. loop-to-loop variation in their dimension (rather than an averaged value) including loop shape (not as a shape factor but as geometrical shape of the loop) and localised variation in loop density (rather than GSM). Both the arms of loop should be in the same plane[2]. which affects the elegancy of the fabric and its fluidity. The uniformity in dimension of loops provides attractive appearance to fabric. However. This would improve the dimensional stability of the fabric. this variation certainly affects lustre and elegancy of the fabric. ie. The localised variation in loop dimensions. In woven fabrics the balance of crimp between warp and weft yarns also plays a vital role on its aesthetic property. This aspect is appreciated when two fabrics with and without such variations are placed side-by-side. However. twisted or deformed loops. The variation in this loop shape and the dimension should be minimum. The geometrical shape of a standard loop should have same curvature for crown and sinker loop[2] (normally sinker loops are larger than crown). loop width (wale spacing) and loop height (course spacing). The measurement of dimension of each loop for a large number of loops that statistically represents the whole lot of the fabric is a very hard task by using existing tools.

This leads to loop-to-loop variation in dimension. Most of the knitters in SMEs test only the count for setting the GSM of the fabric. This reduces the fluidity of the loops and their relaxation at dry or wet or both conditions and their final dimension may not be uniform. Variation in GSM. selection of machine or its parameters for knitting a particular yarn for manufacturing given GSM is crucial. except waxing. speed. may be due to lack of proper tools to assess them. The role of machine parameters such as gauge. They can create difference in strain at different loops as also variation in their relaxation. strength and elongation and TPM. Extensive research on these aspects has given sufficient guidelines to manufacturers. U%. The purchase of yarn is based on the general parameterslike count. If so. . the manufacturer still has to grapple with his expertise to achieve accuracy in GSM and quality of fabric. Such conditions call for stringent quality in yarn. needle type. number of feeders. condition of machine. The knit fabric from similar yarn knit on similar machine (make and condition) with similar process parameters produce fabrics of different quality and some times beyond acceptable limits[6. Then. This speaks about influence of variation in yarn and process parameters other than those considered today in the industry. take down rate. cloth rolling or spreading. However. as well. stitch length. It has not been appreciated so far. The coarser gauge machine can knit with much ease compared to finer one for a given yarn. geometrical shape as well as the localised variation in loop density. imperfections. spirality and many other defects are the problems encountered regularly. This parameter of the quality. else fabric is prone to develop all the three types of quality variations. Process parameters The process parameters such as cam setting. However. take down system. the stress and strain on yarn would be much higher and knit structure could approach a jammed condition. Machine parameters Machine parameters and technology of the machine influence the fabric quality as well as the demand on yarn quality. delay time (in double jersey). do the knit structure and knitting process have no specific requirements compared to the weaving! As mentioned under section 2 the knit fabrics and their process requirements are definitely much different from weaving. can be assessed by image analysis technique. Yarn quality The practice in the industry in assessment of hosiery yarn quality is on the lines with the established norms for weaving or for general understanding of yarn grade rather than anything specific to knitting. etc play vital role in deciding the quality of the fabric. The ideal count range for a given gauge has to be followed[5].the customer. the present tendency is to knit more on finer gauges and with very short loops. cam type. etc are well established by extensive research work. That means the curvature of the yarn in loop would be sharper and the space available between two needles to form a loop or for slipping of loops at the needle hook would be less. The day has come to think on these lines and make the knit fabrics superior in quality. However. yarn tension. yarn feeding system.7]. The images obtained from the cloth have to be analysed for all these three parameters and scanning could be a single operation. monitoring and control systems. sinker setting (in single jersey).

As a result the effective twist in each loop arm may change to the extent of 400 to 600 tpm (10 to 15 tpi). as shown in Figure 3[8]. Such a great change in twist or strain in yarn at loop arms in association with strains experienced in the formation of loops would lead to deformation of loop shape.5 tex) of 3. eliminates sharp bending and resiliency of the structure. Yarn irregularity . would have a reduction in twist to the extent of 400 to 600 tpm (10 to 15 tpi) in left arm and an addition of the same amount in right arm of the loop. therefore. including variation in yarn friction of the type shown in Figure 5. should have minimum torsional rigidity to achieve good geometrical loop shape. That is true but the benefit is at the cost of fabric quality. would information about averaged type of fabric quality discussed However. The basic yarn. eg. Unlike woven fabrics knit structures are formed by bending the yarn into a loop and then interlacing them to create a fabric. as provide twist and CV% would be low. the exact gauge length that is practically feasible needs to be investigated. This would provide information about the likely variation in loop shape and its dimension as a result of short-term variation in yarn twist. The very purpose of using to achieve this smooth and high resiliency to fabric. The bulkiness improves these fabrics are recover during low twist yarn is curvature to loops gauge length for lengths. Then. When a loop is bent in third dimension. or of 633 tpm (16 tpi). as shown in Figure 4. The curvature of loop would be smooth and well defined if the bulkiness of the yarn is higher. The twist in yarn also has a role to play in the geometrical shape of the loop.6 TM (34 tpc tex½ of TF) twisted in 'Z' direction. Still in a few cases one finds yarn of higher twist being preferred on the ground that it performs well in knitting in terms of lesser yarn breakages. This change in strain at loop arms would vary from loop to loop due to change in yarn characters. what should be the testing twist? Longer gauge practiced in industry. a fact known to all technologists.Twist in yarn Twist in hosiery yarn should be less. and expected to stretch easily and use. in a 20s cotton yarn (29. for interlacement of loops the arms of the loop are twisted in opposite directions[8]. Whereas for the here the gauge length should be less.

For obtaining smooth curvature to loop and its uniformity the yarn should be uniform in thickness and imperfections should be minimum.29 6. while the typical plots of continuous recording of friction are given in Figure 5. short term twist variation and variation in loop dimensions or shape could be an interesting work.31 3.23 4.14 11.24 3.17 Overall CV % 7.141 0.86 2. However.73 12. The friction value in waxed yarn has come down from 0. twisting and surface friction can vary tension in yarn during loop formation.139 0.14 0. obviously.49 4.09 5.133 0.05 6.43 21. From the data given in the Table 1 one can note that in several instances the CV% of mean value is less but the overall CV% is very high Table 1: Variation in yarn to metal friction co-efficient Sr Sample no code 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A16K B18C C20K D20C E20K F20C G20C H24K I24C Mean co-eff of friction 0.82 7.138 0.136 0. Co-efficient of friction Waxing to cotton hosiery yarns is common.156 0. The data is given in Table 1.14 today. which might be further aggravated by probable low wax pick-up. This change ensures more uniform application of wax.06 .142 0. The methodology of its application at machine too has changed from friction driven wax discs to motor driven. The thin place in yarn receives more twist resulting in compact structure.04 5.42 12.136 CV % of Mean 2. an interesting observation by the author is worth sharing here. When 18 cotton hosiery yarns were collected from industry. A study of correlation between dimensional change in loop and yarn irregularity can show severity of this phenomenon. who manufacture 5% level Uster standard yarns and tested for co-efficient of friction some surprising results were observed. Establishing correlation between yarn imperfections.68 12. ie. The co-efficient of friction at thin places might be higher due to increased twist.41 7. high torsional rigidity or sharp bends in loop while thick place receives less twist and forms a large curvature at loop. has changed. This variation in bending. picked from their regular export lot. A great improvement in quality of wax and thereby the reduction in co-efficient of yarn friction is observed today.24 to 0. Though yarn uniformity and imperfections cannot be improved beyond a limit the twist flow in these zones might have the influence of various spinning parameters. This would result in shift of loop forming point in knitting zone[11] leading to variation in loop dimension. The shape of loop.

92 Interlock 0.7 Half cardigan 0.34 K = carded yarn.77 0.34 0.11 0.87 1.145 0.12].29 5.36 5. An interesting observation is that the unwaxed warp yarn has high friction value but very low variation within as well as between samples.141 0.78 0. as discussed in this paper.22 8.92 0.58 7.35 8.21 12.74 0.14 0.85 0.98 23.15 23.97 0.10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 J24C K26C L30C M30C N30C O30C P40C Q40C R40C S30W 0. C = combed yarn W = warp yarn.62 6.63 24.86 0.76 0.66 15.05 7.135 0. variation is high or waxing may not be uniform.01 0. This indicates that within sample. The sensitiveness of knitting process and loop dimension to yarn friction is well established[11. The implications of such high variation in friction can definitely change knitting tension and loop dimensions.8 0.82 0. The modification in the existing instrument can provide such information.71 4.81 0. The low overall CV% in few cases clearly demonstrates that higher uniformity in wax application can be achieved.66 0.9 1.14 0.45 0.91 0.02 2. Then for achieving fabric quality in terms of micro level dimensions.138 0. Table 2: Correlation between yarn properties and cam force Yarn properties Relative rigidity Thickness Mean Torsional rigidity Flexural rigidity Yarn Co-eff of friction Multiple R Multiple R-Sq adj Rib 0.8 Note: Due to narrow distribution of yarn friction co-eff in samples the correlation is low . In the Figure 4a and 4b a typical case is shown where the average value of coefficient of friction in two yarns are same but the CV% of friction within a yarn is very high in yarn 'b' compared to yarn 'a' (in few cases the average value of friction itself had changed significantly).73 0.133 0.93 0.321 3.9 0.07 6.1 7.138 0. would be difficult to achieve unless yarn is tested for 'within variation of friction'.

79 -0. The flexural rigidity is the result of fibre properties and yarn structure. The study by Prabhakar Bhat[13] has shown that flexural rigidity influences knitting tension and loop dimension. There are few methods for testing this property but needs further standardisation and sophistication for commercial application.81 NS 0. the point to be noted here is the importance of this property and the factors that can influence this rigidity in hosiery yarns.9 CS Half cardigan LL WS NS NS NS NS NS CS -0.78 Ns 0.86 -0.79 -0.73 -0.93 -0.82 NS NS 0.85 -0.88 -0.79 NS 0. However. thickness of yarn.65 -0. Technically. The study by Prabhakar Bhat[13] can help in understanding the importance of this property.97 NS 0. .77 NS -0. Even if all fibre properties and certain yarn properties are same the change in spinning condition can form yarn of different flexural rigidity.89 LL -0. twist in yarn. compactness and strain energy stored in yarn.79 0.85 Flexural rigidity Flexural rigidity is the resistance of the yarn to bending.Table 3: Correlation between yarn properties and loop dimension Yarn Properties Relative rigidity Thickness Mean torsional rigidity Flexural rigidity Coeff of friction Multiple Correlation Rib LL WS -0. etc.75 0. due to changes in spinning condition and yarn conditioning after spinning.82 NS -0.83 0. All these parameters can vary from yarn to yarn.76 -0. The values in table 2 and 3 show the relation between few crucial yarn properties and knitting tension (cam force) and loop dimension[13].996 Interlock WS 0. there should be good agreement between these parameters. Formation of loop involves torsional.73 NS -0.68 -0. flexural and tensile deformations[13].9 CS -0.57 0.8 -0.85 0. though their general properties are more or less same. tensile and bending properties of staple fibres[15].75 0.76 NS 0.95 NS 0.78 -0. Design of the instrument and testing of cotton yarn for torsional properties is explained by Banerjee and Prabhakar[14]. The correlation between irregularities in yarn and flexural rigidity for similar yarn has to be established to investigate their influence on micro level variation in loop dimension or loop shape or the localised variation in loop density.97 NS -0. Torsional rigidity The torsional rigidity of spun yarns is difficult to test and an instrument is developed at IIT Delhi for testing the same for such yarns[13]. Torsional properties of spun yarns depend on torsional.95 -0.

42. 1999. References 1. 58. 3. An experimental study has shown that loop dimensions are strongly influenced by torsional rigidity followed by flexural rigidity. 7. However. however technology is available. M Tech Thesis. Swamy Sarvesh. 2. 90. Dept of Textile Technology. Stable Dimension of Plain Knitted Fabrics. Hepworth B and Leaf G A V: Journal of Textile Institute. P19. March 2005. 6. 4. 241. 11. 13. 8. Prabhakar Bhat: A Study on the Role of Yarn Properties in Double Jersey Loops. 297. 12. Mishra Sapna: Stable Dimension of 1x1 Rib Knitted Fabrics. Conclusion The quality of the knit fabrics in the future will be defined for variation in loop parameters at micro level such as loop to loop variation in dimension. Leaf G AV: Journal of Textile Institute. Woodhead Publications Ltd. Dept of Textile Technology. Munden D L: Journal of Textile Institute. Doyle P J: Journal of Textile Institute. MTech Thesis. 198. Marie-Ange Bueno and Marc Renner: Textile Research Journal. 1976. This property is yet to be standardised commercially. 1999. T351. 52. therefore. . Pietikainen I: Influence of the Yarn Properties and the Type of Yarn Feeding on the Loop Forming Forces. the yarn quality should meet such demands and under such circumstances the yarn parameters considered so far may not be adequate. Horrocks R and S C: Handbook of Technical textiles. Indore for their permission to publish this paper. 65. 14. 67.The torsional rigidity in a yarn can vary due to any structural change or variation in strain energy during spinning. Then the crucial yarn properties to be considered would be twist in yarn for shortest possible gauge length. 1951. Postle R: Journal of Textile Institute. Dept of Textile Technology. 2000. Postle R and Munden D L: Journal of Textile Institute. 1960. 1981. 5. The tools required to assess them could be developed. 1967. 1961. flexural rigidity and torsional rigidity. 4. No 2. geometrical shape of loop and localised variation in loop density. E603. IJFTR. The loop dimensions can. IIT Delhi. 74. Banerjee P K and Ghosh S: A Model of the Single Jersey Loop Formation Process. yarn irregularity. Melliand Textilberiechte 62. 59. T448. 2003. within variation of friction in yarn. 9. Any study on above lines might be worth considering for the benefit of knitting industry. Banerjee P K and Prabhakar Bhat: Torsional Properties of Cotton Yarns. Acknowledgement The author expresses his sincere thanks the principal and management of Shri Vaishnav Institute of Technology and Science. P108. 352. Part 1. Apart from fibre and yarn parameters the process condition has a significant influence on these two properties and hence testing the yarns for properties discussed so far might be a serious requirement in the future. 2004. vary when yarns of different torsional properties are mixed or if the yarn has continuous variation in its torsional properties. 1968. IIT Delhi. 10. 1999. 51. IIT Delhi. Journal Textile Institute. Ph D Thesis.

1964. Indore.15. 55. The author is Professor and Head of Dept of Textile Technology. . E-mail: pbhatsir@rediffmail. Burton P and Chaokin: The Torque in Twisted Singles Yarns. Madhya Postle R. T448. Shri Vaishnav Institute of Technology and Science.