Knitted fabrics tend to change dimensions in width and length after being taken off the machine, even without yarn shrinkage, indicating a change of loop shape rather than of loop length. During knitting, the loop structure is subjected to a tension of approximately 15-25 grams per needle from sources such as the takedown mechanism and, in the case of fabric machines, the width stretcher board. Unless the structure is allowed to relax from its strained and distorted state at some time during manufacture, the more favourable conditions for fabric relaxation provided during washing and wearing will result in a change of dimensions, leading to customer dissatisfaction. stable state of equilibrium with its surroundings and will exhibit no further relaxation shrinkage. Unfortunately, there are a number of states which may be achieved by different relaxation conditions, such as dry relaxation, steaming, static soaking, washing with agitation, centrifuging, and tumble drying. These states...
As the presser foot does not create tension on loops already formed, loops may be held on inactive needles for many knitting cycles and stitch concentrations can be varied across the fabric width. It also enables separate garment panels to be commenced on empty needles and to be pressed-off on completion. The reduced takedown tension removes the problem of shape distortion and the bowing of courses caused by relaxation of the structure, often eliminating the need for first pressing. The structures tend to be heavier, and rib knitted on two-cam systems shows a slightly racked appearance because the presser foot causes yarn to flow into the first limb of each loop that it contacts. Two courses made in the same direction of traverse emphasise the inclination of the loops. To produce a conventional elongated loop instead of a round loop it is important to maintain some take-down tension.
It is a well-balanced, uniform structure with a softer, fuller handle, greater width-wise relaxation, and more elasticity than interlock. Simple geometric designs with a four wale wide repeat composed of every two loops of identical colour, can be achieved with careful arrangement of yarns.
Structures produced with constant and identical course lengths may have a differing or impaired appearance if the allocation of the course length between the knitting elements, and therefore between the components of the stitch structure, varies. Factors that can cause a variation include element timing, element gauge in relation to machine gauge, and the depth of knock-over of one needle bed compared to the other. This effect can be magnified or minimized by the type of structure and yarn, the machine gauge, and the type of relaxation and finishing treatment.
The term fabric 'quality' is sometimes used when referring to wales and courses per inch or centimetre, either in a knitted or a finished relaxed state. As knitted loops tend to assume a recognizable configuration, the results can give an indication of the approximate stitch length and possible machine gauge used in knitting the structure, provided the state of relaxation and type of structure is taken into consideration. Generally, the higher the figure for a given linear measurement of wales, the finer the machine gauge and the smaller the stitch length.
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