Monday, January 19, 2009

Knit. Tuck. or Float

Knit Tuck or Float – Circular Weft Knitting (Part 1)

I have a chant that goes through my head over and over when I visit circular weft knitting rooms. It goes like this “Round and Round, Up and Down; Knit, Tuck or Float.” Of course, it’s much more complicated but once you get the basic science down, do you really need to know much more?
Yes, those tiny loops that are intertwined to make the moveable knit fabrics with the wonderful hand and drape are knit on circular weft knitting machines. If the loops couldn’t distort to be tall and thin or stretch from side to side to be short and fat – well- you’d have something that felt and acted more like a woven. And always remember that the Loop Length Rules. Even in China although I had to get down to the dot – dot pictures with their technical guy before I understood that we were trying to explain the same thing.
Athletic Socks, panty hose, “seamless microfiber underwear”, tee shirts, and polo or golf shirts – it’s usually all knit on those circular weft knitting machines where the “stitch length” or loop length determines and controls the performance. Some of these knitting machines are smarter than others so let’s start with the dumbest of them all, a single needle jersey for a tee shirt.
Let’s pretend we’re the big brands and we blow out tee shirts by the millions of dozens every week. We’re so cost conscious that our Single Needle Knitting machines only have 1 set of tracks in the cams. So think about it like a roller coaster and the knitting machine needles are the passengers and they ride on this roller coaster track in attached cars. The arms on these passengers in the cars can raise their hands and grab a streamer and then put their hands back down. So the roller coaster track becomes the knitting machine cam track, the roller coaster car is the bottom of the needle called the needle butt that rides on this cam track. The passengers are the top of this “latch” needle and they can grab and release. This grab and release motion will mimic the top part of the the latch needle.
I’m sorry to say but our roller coaster only goes in a circle. And yes, if we’re the passengers then we’re going to be riding Round and Round, Up and Down, and our options are to Knit (hands up and grab) Tuck (hands back down) or Float (do nothing.) “Round and Round, Up and Down; Knit, Tuck or Float”
So how many people can ride on our roller coaster at one time? How many people can grab and pull different streamers in at one time? So when my needles travel one time in my circular machine – how many rows of fabric has been knit?
Suspense got you? Check back for these answers and more!


The Underwear Maven

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