Early concepts of fabric geometry were based on models having maximum cover, so that adjacent loops touched each other with a constant ratio of stitch length to yarn diameter. Doyle  initiated a new approach to fabric geometry by deriving his concepts from an interpretation of experimental data. He showed that for a range of dry, relaxed, plain weft knitted fabrics, stitch density could be obtained using the formula S - ksll2, where S is stitch density, l is loop length and ks is a constant independent of yarn and machine variables.
Munden  took this work a stage further in 1959, with experimental results that indicated that the linear dimensions as well as the stitch density for a wide range of thoroughly relaxed, plain knitted, worsted yarn fabrics were uniquely determined by their stitch length and that all other variables influenced dimensions only by changing this variable.
His k values for plain worsted fabrics in dry and wet relaxed states were supplemented later by values proposed by Knapton for a 'fully relaxed' state that required agitation of the fabric. To achieve this state, it was suggested that the fabrics be wetted out for 24 hours in water at 40°C, briefly hydro-extracted to remove excess water, and tumble dried for 1 hour at 70°C.
The k values for the three states were as follows:
Dry relaxed Wet relaxed Fully relaxed ks 19.0 21.6 23.1
It is now thus possible to pre-determine the fully-relaxed dimensions of shrink-resist (felting-resistant) treated plain knitted wool fabric before knitting. Similar experimental work has been carried out on the relaxed dimensions of rib, interlock and some double-jersey structures, as well as some structures knitted from cotton yarns. It is suggested that for complex structures, the loop should be replaced by the structural knit cell as the smallest repeating unit of the structure
Most theoretical models of knitted loops are based on an adaptation of a geometrical shape known as an 'elastica'. This is the shape that a slim body such as a uniform rod will assume when buckled by the action of forces. Munden has suggested a relaxed configuration so as to achieve the minimum bending of the yarn. The widest part of the loop coincides with the narrowest part of the feet above it. The theory is, however, complicated by such factors as the three-dimensional shape of loop structures, the jamming of loops, yarn friction, and the pre-setting of loop shapes. Fabric compactness when expressed as a factor is the ratio between the yarn diameter and its loop length in the structure. It is not an absolute value and does not refer to the area occupied by the loop, so the state of relaxation of the structure does not affect the ratio. It is thus possible to have two fabrics with the same compactness, one with a small loop length and fine yarn count and the other with a large loop length and heavy yarn count. Compactness is an important fabric property that influences durability, drape, handle, strength, abrasion resistance, dimensional stability and, in the case of wool, felting behaviour.
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