Research Point: Yarns

The aim of this research is to explore yarn development.

According to the course notes, yarn design offers a number of development opportunities:

  • Properties – conductive/insulating, waterproof or water-repellent, coloured etc. These are determined by the fibres or materials that the yarn is made from.
  • Aesthetics – how the textile looks for example colour, single or more colours twisted together etc. Fancy yarns have variety of texture, colour and repetition of pattern. They can be used sparingly for interest or abundantly to exaggerate their design. The composition and design can depend on whether it will be used as decoration or to construct a textile.
  • Handle and Performance – handle is concerned with softness and fullness as well as its drape and move. The resilience of a yarn is how well it springs back after it has been stretched which can be an importance consideration depending on its intended use. Yarn performance is important in areas such as elastic yarns in sportswear or Kevlar in bullet-proof vests.

Yarn design on an industrial scale is primarily the concern of spinners who provide yarn to the textile industry.

Campaign for Wool

The Campaign for Wool was launched in 2010 and according to its website

“The Campaign for Wool is a global endeavour initiated by its patron, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, in order to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural, renewable and biodegradable benefits offered by the fibre.”

The Campaign for Wool lists the advantages of wool as a material as:

  • Natural – a protein fibre created in the skin of sheep that has been used since the Stone Age
  • Renewable – sheep produce a new fleece every year (as long as they have grass to graze on)
  • Biodegradable – decomposes in soil
  • Natural Insulator – wool is a hydroscopic fibre meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air (and can also release it depending on the surrounding humidity). When used in homes as insulation it can save energy.
  • Breathability – wool fibres are crimped which means when they are packed together they create tiny air pockets further allowing it to absorb and release moisture.
  • Resilient and Elastic – wool fibres resist tearing and can be bent back on themselves over 20,000 times without breaking which makes wool based textiles resistant to sagging. As wool is hydrophilic (highly absorbent) it can absorb coloured dyes without the use of harsh chemicals.
  • Multi-climatic/Trans-seasonal – due to its hygroscopic properties, wool reacts to temperature changes and so helps the wearer remain comfortable in a variety of temperatures.
  • Easy Care – wool naturally has a waxy coating that makes it stain resistant and it has anti-static properties that stop it attracting dust. Recent innovations now mean that wool can be machine washed.
  • Odour Resistant – as wool can quickly absorb and release moisture, it does not retain the moisture long enough for bacteria to grow and create odours.
  • A safe solution – the website states that wool is not known to cause allergies and this is something I am keen to investigate as my own skin often reacts to garments containing wool however I have read that the allergic reactions are not necessarily caused by the wool itself but the chemicals used to treat the yarns during the manufacturing process amongst other sources. An example of an article which discusses this can be found here. Wool also has UV protection properties as well as being naturally flame retardant.

There is a Supporters page which lists all the current organisations involved in the campaign which can be found here.


The Woolmark Company is a subsidiary of Australian Wool Innovation, “a not-for-profit enterprise that conducts research, development and marketing along the worldwide supply chain for Australian wool on behalf of about 60,000 woolgrowers” This website focusses on Australian Merino Wool in particular but has sections on trends within Fashion, Activewear, Innovations, Breathability and Interiors.

Cotton Inc.

Cotton Incorporated is the research and promotion company for cotton in the US. There are sections outlining the cotton industry’s sustainability goals, their denim recycling programme Blue Jeans Go Green as well as a wealth of market data.


Invista make chemicals, polymers, fabric and fibres that are designed to be high performance. Recently there has been a lot of media coverage on sustainability and the effect of products on the environment. Given that Invista create fibres and fabrics that are not natural they are still aware of their environmental impact and have a section of their website dedicated to their Responsibility. This section of their website outlines how they try to minimise their environmental impact and support local community initiatives such as Habitat for Humanity.

The main products that they produce are:

  • nylon – created from chemicals such as adiponitrile (ADN), hexamethylene diamine (HMD) and adipic acid (AA) 
  • byproduct usage – provide the amines used in curing agents for composites and laminates. TERRIN polyols can be used as replacement polyols in a variety of conventional polyurethane products.  FLEXISOLV® solvents include chemical alternatives used in inks, coatings and adhesives.
  • CORDURA® fabric is used in garments and is designed to be heard wearing. DACRON® fiberfill technology is used in sleep products such as mattresses and pillows.


Lurex was established in 1946 and specialises in metallic yarns. They have a section which showcases the uses of their yarns which can be found here.

In 2017 Lurex launched its own fashion line Maison Lurex. Lurex is aimed at high end fashion and have developed a way of making metallic thread supple enough to be used in garments.


Pitti Immagine Filati is the main event for international knitting yarns held in Firenze and the list of exhibitors in January 2019 can be found here (the next one will be held in June).


Heimtextile is the international trade fair for home and contract textiles held in January in Frankfurt. Trends from the 2019 fair can be found here.

[All links accessed on 24/03/2019]

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