ATV Part 4 – Yarn and linear exploration

Research point 1

I have started Part 4 by asking myself  “What is yarn?”

  1. Yarn is a spun thread used for knitting, weaving or sewing
  2. Yarn is a long or rambling story, especially one that is implausible

“Yarn is a long continuous length of interlocked fibres suitable for the production of textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery and ropemaking”>wiki>yarn

Yarn is made from natural or synthetic fibres or a mix of these.  Natural fibres include the following – cotton, wool, linen, bamboo, silk and hemp.  Less common are nettle, corn and soy.

Synthetic fibres – nylon, polyester and acrylic are produced from fossil fuels and are extruded in continuous lengths which undergo further processes to produce the final product.  Synthetic fibres come in 3 basic forms –

staple – cut fibres

tow – a rope of many continuous filaments side by side

filament – one or more continuous strands

Viscose is a semi synthetic fibre made by chemically treating cellulose from plants such as bamboo, soy and sugar cane.  Rayon is produced from cellulose from wood pulp and is also a semi synthetic fibre.

Spun Yarn

Made by twisting stable fibres together either with a single staple fibre or a mix of different types (eg. wool and acrylic) which produces plies.  These plies are then twisted together to form the yarn.  There are two different types of twist – s-twist or z-twist, which can affect the final properties of the yarn.

Filament Yarn

This is made by long continuous fibres twisted together or grouped together.  Silk is a naturally occurring filament.

Commercial yarns come in a variety of thicknesses, fibre mixes and weights.  There are lots of amazing yarns available in a vast variety of colours, I have selected a few of my own as a very small example.>wiki>yarn

Examples of yarns in my collection


Yarns can be a single colour or plies of different colours.  There are space dyed yarns, flecked yarns and fancy yarns.  They all have different properties depending on the end outcome required, some of the properties are softness, durability, strength, flexibility, drape and thermal properties.  Yarns are used in hundreds of applications from household textiles to safety products, fire hose and firefighters’ protective clothing, seatbelts and airbags in vehicles.  There are fabrics that contain fibre optics that light up, they are flexible, water resistant and can be washed.  Our textiles, the yarns and fibres that make them, whether handmade or produced by commercial manufacturers are a huge part of our everyday lives which we take for granted.

Suggested websites to research for fibres, yarns and trade shows

The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation which promotes Australian Merino wool through education,  conducts research and development is a global authority on wool from animal to end product.  The Woolmark logo is recognised world wide and guarantees the fibre content and quality of wool in the finished product.

The current innovations for wool are the development of wool fabrics and yarns mixed with technical fibres to produce active clothing.  The use of wool fibres mixed with manmade fibres offers a range of benefits from odour control, comfort and shape retention to temperature regulation and moisture management.  Other innovations in this area are the application of a UV absorbing finish which can be carried out at different stages of production depending on the final requirement.  Deliberate creasing or sculpture is another interesting development described on the Woolmark website.  Wool is also being used in traditional Denim to overcome some of the negative aspects of cotton Denim, for example, fading when washing, long drying time and creasing.  All these negative aspects can be helped by the development of a wool/cotton denim blend which is machine washable.

Launched in October 2010 with HRH The Prince of Wales as its patron, The Campaign for Wool aims to raise awareness of consumers to all the ecological benefits of wool.  The campaign also worked to encourage the collaboration between all the different parties working and using wool in design and production.  It has also positively affected the demand for wool worldwide and helped effect a threefold increase in raw wool paid to farmers.

On the website there are lots of areas of innovation, similar to Woolmark, they are working with UK designers and makers who use wool in their work.  The use of wool in active clothing also features but the emphasis is more on the ethical use of wool in consumer products.

Cotton Incorporated was set up in America in 1970 as a result of the decline over the previous 10 years of cotton being used in textiles and the increased competition from synthetic fibres which were being heavily promoted.  The move from cotton to synthetic textiles by consumers threatened the production of cotton to the point of possible extinction, cotton was only used in the production of jeans, t-shirts and towels.  By 1983 Cotton Incorporated had stopped the decline and after a long campaign promoting the natural qualities of cotton, and today cotton has 60% of the market share.  Today the issues of sustainability and ethics are as important as production and productivity.

Cotton Incorporated has a campaign called Blue Jeans Go Green™ which recycles denim collected from all over the US and recycles it into insulation made from 80% recycled denim of which a proportion is donated to community building projects.  Over 600 tonnes of denim has been recycled and kept out of landfill.

Invista is a global company that produces nylon polyester based products for clothing, household textiles and vehicle products.  These include carpets, synthetic duvets, vehicle upholstery, airbag fibre and sewing threads and cords.

Lurex® are the leading worldwide producers of metallic yarns and have been producing these yarns for over 70 years.  Lurex® is use in many textile applications, knitting, embroidery and clothing including lingerie and hosiery, it comes in a range of colours including the iconic gold and silver, and they can be mixed and combined with other yarns.  It is made by laminating the metal between two layers of synthetic film.

New yarns include enamel effect, iridescent, holographic, translucent, glow in the dark and fluorescent which keeps a yarn first made in 1946 really up to date with all the features that designers would be looking for today and I think they would appeal to all ages as fashion becomes more ageless than ever.

“Where new fashion trends and lifestyle start” is how the exhibition is described which runs from 24-26th January 2018 in Florence Italy and is ” the international reference of the knitting industry”.  Spinners,  yarn manufacturers, designers and buyers attend this fair which encompasses everything connected with knitwear and the new trends for 2018.   Areas for exploration are knitting printing, knitting machines, dyes and finishes and new fashion trends.

I didn’t know where to start when looking at this website, there is so much interesting information (even though I’m not into knitting) and I soon wandered off looking at the ‘feel the yarn’ students work and photos of their wonderful creations.

This is the website for the International Trade Fair for Home & Contract textiles which is  held in January 2018 at Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  It is the biggest and most important international trade fair for home and contract textiles and establishes the standard for the coming year.  Manufacturers, dealers and designers present their products and innovations to trade visitors.  Products range from wallpapers, indoor sun protection systems to flooring and pet textiles.  There are technical areas which include digital printing, textile design and new technology that is available for designers and producers.

Trends for 2108/19 are based around urban living and making the most of the space available to us as our living spaces are getting smaller. Furniture designed so that it is multifunctional and will work alongside space that can also be changed and adapted to different needs within our living/working spaces.  Also the inclusion of plants into living and working areas, helping to control air pollution providing a better and a healthier environment for all.

Re-made space is the concept of recycling waste to make useful products to enhance life.  As the world population increases so does the waste we produce, identifying what can be recycled and reused is becoming more important if we want to continue to survive on this planet.