Cotton and Yarn production was the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution in the UK, but how exactly are knitting yarns made? Read on to learn the processes and techniques used to make the knitting yarns used to produce commercially and home knitted clothing.
What Is A Knitting Yarn?
A knitting yarn is a collection of several strands of fibres which are twisted together to give a thread which is strong enough to ‘knit’ or ‘weave’ into garments. These strands are twisted, bonded or crimped together in order to produce a strong thread which can then be again twisted together to form the finished knitting yarn.
Many knitting yarns are multi-ply, which means more than one woven thread is used in the final knitting yarn, with the threads being twisted together. This can form a variety of effects to the finished yarn depending upon materials used and the plying process used.
Materials Used in Knitting Yarns
There are a huge variety of different fibres which can be used in knitting yarns – everything from natural materials like cotton to man-made plastics which can be combined in one yarn to give exactly the right qualities for production of certain types of garments.
For garments which are to be worn by babies for example, pure organic cotton is used as this has the least potential to interact with sensitive skin, whereas for the production of cold weather clothing wool, silk and other animal hairs like mohair or even natural aerated fibres might be used. The manufacturer of the knitting yarn can choose from a massive variety of fibres, all of which can be combined to give exactly the right characteristics for both production and eventual wearing by the end user.
Knitting and Weaving – Large VS Small Scale
Knitting yarns for small scale knitting (say for home use) may have different properties than those used for large scale loom production. In an industrial environment it’s important that not only there are minimal breakages to the yarn, but also that the yarn doesn’t snag on the loom, leading to damage. Industrial knitting yarn has additional coatings like wax which ensure the easy passage of the yarn through the loom and it’s usual for these industrial yarns to be available on much larger bobbins than normal home knitting yarns. Industrial knitting yarns are specially formulated to make breakages less likely as breakages add to the likelihood of poor quality produced garments.
Home knitting yarns don’t have to cope with the industrial environment so don’t have to be overly waxed or need the same sort of strength as industrial yarn. This means that the yarns are cheaper, available in a larger variety of materials and can produce much more interesting finishes than machine loom knitted garments. Examples of these types of finishes would be any yarn made from short fibres and not bonded – these yarns separate easily yet when hand knitted produce clothing which is extremely soft and warm.
Examples of Home Knitting Yarns
There are many different companies offering knitting yarns for the home knitter, including Sirdar, Rowan and Rico. The different yarns produced by these companies cover a wide variety of styles applicable to different needs of the finished garment, with for example Sirdar Indie yarn being great for chunky sweaters and winter jumpers. The Rico can can range of knitting yarns offer extreme softness with a multi-coloured yarn which is great for knitting really different scarves and gloves, with the yarn being 100% acrylic so produces easy to look after clothing.