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November 2004 Archive

20 November 2004

Little Sock Christmas Decoration

A teeny, little sock; perfect for decorating the tree or warming the feet of small dolls. Try hanging one over the mantelpiece in the hopes of attracting jewellery from Santa — via EJ Slayton at Joy Knits

SiroSPUN: Spinning Process

Traditionally, two-fold yarns have been used for weaving because they are stronger, and the twisting operation binds the surface fibres into the yarn structure so that it is smoother and more resistant to abrasion during weaving. The SiroSPUNTM process adapted some of the self-twist discoveries of CSIRO to the ring spinning technology of the worsted system, and combined spinning and doubling in the one operation. The technology maintains two separate strands during the spinning process, and this allows a number of fibre-binding mechanisms to operate before the strands are twisted about each other. An important aspect of the SiroSPUN system is a simple device to break out the remaining strand if one of the strands should be accidentally broken.

SiroSPUN is especially suited to the production of lightweight trans-seasonal fabrics, and a significant proportion of the world's worsted spinning installations have been converted to this cost-saving and innovative CSIRO technology. ABARE estimated the benefits of SiroSPUN to the industry to be over $8 billion by 1992.

How SiroSPUN Works
Spinners have long demanded spinning and twisting in a single operation. The SiroSPUN process offers the solution:

Two rovings are led separately through the drafting system in parallel and are only combined once they have passed the nip point of the front top and front bottom roller. A twofold-like weavable yarn, Siro yarn, is the result.

The Process
With the SiroSPUN process, a special spin-twisted yarn can be produced directly on the ring-spinning machine. In this process, two rovings are led in parallel through the drafting system, separated by two specially developed condensers, and drafted separately.

The twist is introduced as for a normal single yarn by means of ring and traveller. The roving strands, which are drafted parallel, are combined after passing the front rollers at the exit from the drafting system, with some twist being produced in the individual strands right up to the nip point. Once past the front roller of the drafting system, the two strands are combined producing a twofold-like yarn. The yarn has uni-directional twist like a singles yarn but the fibres are bound sufficiently for the yarn to survive weaving.

Half-weight single yarn sections are avoided by breaking the second strand if the other breaks. A mechanical yarn break detector located below the drafting system continuously controls the yarn path of both single yarns throughout the spinning process. If one of the two strands breaks, the special yarn break detector falls in the opposite direction, blocking the twist so that the second strand breaks, thus ensuring that only perfect Siro ply yarn runs onto the bobbins.

Spinning and Twisting in a Single Operation
As well as it classical applications in long staple spinning, SiroSPUN has become established in the short staple spinning process.

As far as the material is concerned, all the fibres with sufficient staple length normally used in long or short staple spinning can be processed. However, the twist used is similar to the normal two-fold twist rather than the normal singles twist.

Economic Efficiency of SiroSPUN
SiroSPUN is especially suited to the production of lightweight trans-seasonal fabrics, and a significant proportion of the world's worsted spinning installations have been converted to this cost-saving and innovative CSIRO technology. ABARE estimated the benefits of SiroSPUN to the industry to be over $8 billion by 1992.

Benefits of SiroSPUN
Sirospun reduces wool spinning costs by avoiding one stage

The main advantage of the SiroSPUN process is a reduction in spinning costs for pure fine wool weaving yarn. On average, SiroSPUN technology lowers the processing costs of spinning by 56 per cent. Weaving yarns are normally two-fold — that is, made up of two yarns twisted together. Ordinarily the strands must be first spun and then two-folded. SiroSPUN reduces cost by combining spinning and two-folding, allowing a twofold-like yarn to be produced in one step from wool top.

Advantageous to Fabric Producers
The economic effects of SiroSPUN are not restricted to the wool spinning stage. Fabric producers are also affected, in three principal ways. First, SiroSPUN yarns have slightly different weaving characteristics from conventional yarns, and this increases the costs of weaving by about 1 per cent. Second, because SiroSPUN yarns can be produced at a significantly lower cost than conventional yarns, part of this cost saving is passed on to fabric producers. The second effect outweighs the first, resulting in a net saving to fabric producers. Third, SiroSPUN fabrics have distinct quality characteristics.

Advantageous to Garment Makers and Wool Growers
Cost savings at the fabric stage are passed down the processing chain to pure wool garment makers. The net effect is lower costs of producing wool garments and hence stimulation of consumer demand for wool products. This increase in final garment demand is, in turn, passed back up the production chain, increasing the demand for greasy wool, thus resulting in a higher price which benefits wool growers — via CSIRO

Knitted Angel Decoration

Why not try triming the tree this year with a knitted angel ornamentvia J Barrett at About Knitting

Knitting Patterns Under Creative Commons Licence

Knitty is a web-published knitting magazine that normally comes out quarterly. They've done a special issue for breast cancer awareness [PDF] that's just come out, and they've published it under a Creative Commons licence. (See the last page of the special issue for details). This is the very first time I've seen knitting patterns published under a CC license, and I think it's splendid! — via BoingBoing

The History of Aran Jumpers

The Aran Sweater takes its name from the set of islands where it originated many generations ago, off the West coast of Ireland. The Aran Islands lie at the mouth of Galway Bay, at the mercy of the relentless Atlantic Sea. The Islanders were fishermen and farmers whose lives and livelihoods were deeply intertwined. The Aran Sweater was born of this environment, passed down from generation to generation, and has since become the ultimate symbol of Irish Clan heritage.

From its origins, the sweater has been intimately linked to clans and their identities. The many combinations of stitches seen on the garment are not incidental, far from it. They can impart vast amounts of information to those who know how to interpret them. The sweaters were, and remain, a reflection of the lives of the knitters, and their families. On the islands, patterns were zealously guarded, kept within the same clan throughout generations. They were often used to help identify bodies of fishermen washed up on the beach following an accident at sea. An official register of these historic patterns has been compiled, and can be seen in the Aran Sweater Museum on the Aran Islands.

About the Sweater
The sweater has many attributes which made it suitable clothing for the island's community of fishermen and farmers. It is water repellent, not allowing the rain to penetrate the sweater thus keeping the wearer dry. An Aran sweater can absorb 30% of its weight in water before feeling wet. The natural wool fibre used in the sweaters is breathable, drawing water vapour away from the skin and releasing it into the air, thus helping the body to maintain an ideal temperature. Most importantly, of course, the sweater kept the wearer warm on the cold days and nights at sea or on the farm. Wool has an excellent insulating capacity due to the high volume of air in it, and this helps protect the wearer from excessive cold and heat.

Meanings of the Stitches
As a craft, the Aran Sweater continues to fascinate audiences around the world. A finished sweater contains approximately 100,000 carefully constructed stitches, and can take the knitter up to sixty days to complete. It can contain any combination of stitches, depending on the particular clan pattern being followed. Many of the stitches used in the Aran Sweater are reflective of Celtic Art, and comparisons have been drawn between the stitches and patterns found at Neolithic burial sites such as Newgrange in County Meath.

Each stitch carries its own unique meaning, a historic legacy from the lives of the Island community many years ago. The Cable Stitch is a depiction of the fisherman's ropes, and represents a wish for a fruitful day at sea. The Diamond Stitch reflects the small fields of the islands. These diamonds are sometimes filled with Irish moss stitch, depicting the seaweed that was used to fertilise the barren fields and produce a good harvest. Hence the diamond stitch is a wish for success and wealth. The Zig Zag Stitch, a half diamond, is often used in the Aran Sweaters, and popularly represents the twisting cliff paths on the islands. The Tree of Life is one of the original stitches, and is unique to the earliest examples of the Aran knitwear. It again reflects the importance of the clan, and is an expression of a desire for clan unity, with long-lived parents and strong children.

The Aran Sweater Today
Today, the demand for the Aran Sweater continues to grow. The lack of skilled knitters, and the economic gains to be had from machine-production of the sweaters, has resulted in a huge fall in the number of hand-knits available. Hand knit Aran Sweaters have become rare and valuable.

They are highly sought after for their quality, their history, and the clan heritage they represent. Despite the huge increase in fashion goods available, the Aran Sweater remains an item of timeless beauty, synonymous with pride in an Irish heritage. As the craft spreads far beyond its humble origins on the wind ravaged islands of the west coast of Ireland, so too does its recognition as a fine work of art and an emblem of Irish Clan identity — Clan Aran Sweaters

Library News

Don't forget to look at the newsletters, which we receive from local textile organisations, and also from America and New Zealand. They have news of exhibitions, book reviews and Creative Fibre, which is from the New Zealand Spinning, Weaving and Woolcrafts Society, has interesting colour photos of work as well.

I was surprised to see the Tasmanian Guild welcoming a whole page of new members, perhaps they had an open day as well!

We bought five new books from Anne Miller on Open Day: Domino Knitting by Vivian Hoxbro, An Australian Afghan by the Kurringai Branch of the Knitters Guild.

Color Works: The Crafter's Guide to Color by Deb Menz, Men in Knits: Sweaters to Knit That He Will Wear by Tara Jon Manning, also The Best of Weaver's: Thick 'n Thin by Madelyn Van Der Hoogt.

We will have lots of second-hand books and magazines for sale. If you are unsure how much it is to borrow a book after all our changes, it is now 30 cents per book per month — Patricia Buick

Handbag That Never Forgets

MIT researchers are developing fabric swatches outfitted with sensors, microprocessors, and conductive velcro. The electronic patches can be quickly slapped together to provide different functionality in various form factors.

To make a bag that prevents people forgetting things, the inventors have equipped a module with a radio antenna and receiver. The unit is programmed to listen for signals from radio frequency identification (RFID) tags on objects like mobile phones, keys and wallets.

A sensor module in the bag's handle detects when the bag has been picked up, indicating that the owner might be leaving. This triggers the reader to check through the objects the computer module has been programmed to look for. If it does not detect a required item, it uses a voice synthesiser module in another patch to warn: Mobile phone, yes! Wallet, yes! Keys, no!

As helpful and slightly disturbing as your bag reminding you that you've forgotten your keys is, it could be worse. If you usually transport the detritus of everyday life around in your pockets, having your trousers or jacket remind you about your wallet would be even stranger — New Scientist