Coloured stitch designs in weft knitting

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Colour is one of the five ingredients of fashion, the other four being style, silhouette, texture and pattern [1].

Ornamentation for design purposes may be introduced at the fibre, yarn, or dyeing and finishing stage, as well as at the knitting stage. Apart from different colours, it may take the form of sculptured or surface interest. In fibre form it may include a variation of fibre diameter, length, cross-section, dye uptake, shrinkage, or elastic properties. In yarn form it can include fancy twist and novelty yarns, as well as the combined use of yarns produced by different spinning or texturing processes. The dyeing process, which provides the possibility of differential and cross-dyeing of fabrics composed of more than one type of fibre, may occur at any point in manufacturing from fibre to finished article [2].

The finishing process may also utilise heat or chemically-derived shaping. Finally, printing and particularly transfer printing [3] can introduce colour designs onto plain colour surfaces, whilst embroidery stitching may provide relief designs in one or more colours (usually onto garment panels or socks).

The finishing process can completely transform the appearance of a relatively uninteresting structure, either as an overall effect or on a selective basis.

The knitting of stitch designs always involves a loss of productivity compared with the knitting of plain, non-patterned structures. Machine speeds are lower, less feeds can generally be accommodated, efficiency is less, design changes are time-consuming and dependent upon technique and machine type, and, in many cases, more than one feeder course is required to knit each pattern row.

At the knitting stage, apart from stitches for surface interest and other functional purposes, four techniques may, if required, be employed to produce designs in coloured stitches. These are horizontal striping, intarsia, plating, and individual jacquard stitch selection.

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