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Innovation Category

Innovations and inventions from the world of fibre and textiles.

16 September 2011

Guerilla Knitta Magda Sayeg in Conversation with Steven Pozel

Yarnbombing, guerrilla knitting, or yarnstorming... call it what you will. Queen and founder of the knit graffiti movement, Magda Sayeg, will employ a handmade aesthetic to Sussex lane for the Laneway Art program as part of the Art & About festival later this month, and infuse the urban landscape with warmth and congeniality.

Go to www.object.com.au

26 April 2011

2011 Lexus "The Hard Way" Material Breakthroughs

Why weave a chassis? The pursuit of perfection means striving to create the lightest and strongest possible materials. See how Lexus takes the hard way in reinventing the manufacturing process -- via YouTube

13 April 2010

The Peter Collingwood Trust Fund

Following the death of Peter Collingwood his family have set up a trust in his name. Peter was known for his innovative approach to weaving and they hope that the trust will encourage people to keep pushing the boundaries and discover the next new thing.

Each year the trust will award a grant of £1000 to the person that has shown the most innovation relating to a loom based textile.

Applicants are asked to submit up to 6 images (300dpi) and supporting text of not more than 500 words by 31 July to:

Peter Collingwood Charitable Trust
Old School, Nayland
Colchester, Essex

The successful applicant will be notified by 31 August. Any CDs, photos or text sent by applicants will not be returned.

19 January 2007

MIT Labs Moves Ahead In Synthesising Spider Silk

Synthetic spider silk, like lycra in many ways, has a number of unique properties. The MIT lab that created it is being monitored by military elements, keenly interested in applications of this material to front-line technologies. The secret of spider silk's combined strength and flexibility, according to scientists, has to do with the arrangement of the nano-crystalline reinforcement of the silk as it is being produced — in other words, the way these tiny crystals are oriented towards and adhere to the stretchy protein. Emulating this process in a synthetic polymer, the MIT team focused on reinforcing solutions of commercial rubbery substance known as polyurethane elastomer with nano-sized clay platelets instead of simply heating and mixing the molten plastics with reinforcing agents

MIT Labs Moves Ahead In Synthesizing Spider SilkExtremeTech

26 June 2006

iCord Maker

Betz White shows you how to use a cool crafty gadget, the Magicord Knitter (looks like it's now called Embellish-Knit) which lets you crank the handle and knit a long cord in an instant. More automagically created i-cord than than you can poke a stick at.

iCordbetz's blog (via MAKE: Blog)

25 May 2006

How Bio-Fabric is Made

The basic material is a polyester fibre called PPT (polypropylene terephthalate) which is produced by combining 1-3PDO (propanediol) from maize with terephthalic acid, a petroleum-based component.

Honda improved the stability of the material by producing very fine fibres and spinning them into a multi-strand yarn. The flexibility of this yarn enabled it to weave a soft, pleasant-feeling yet durable upholstery material suitable for mass production using existing weaving processes.

Honda has been using the concept of LCA (life cycle assessment) to reduce carbon dioxide emissions throughout the entire life cycle of a vehicle — from production and usage to disposal.

Bio-fabric will enable the company to reduce the energy used during the production process by 10-15 percent compared to the production of petroleum-based polyester material, due to the use of plant-based ingredients in the raw material.

This can reduce the carbon dioxide produced in building a car by 5kg.

How bio-fabric is madeMotoring & Independent Online

08 February 2006

The Spinning Drill

Ruth's husband Tom whipped her up a spinning gadget made from an electric drill and they documented their efforts.

Ok then folks, as promised I will detail below this secret spinning gadget of ours. The original idea came from Tom, who saw my vain efforts and frustration at using a drop spindle for the first time after years of using a wheel (and then years of not using either). Together we've developed this, thinking about speed, direction, angle of spin, plying and so on. We do have plans for revision, but only because one of the main components is Tom's favourite toy and he's been feeling bereft of it lately. Yep, it's a drill. Simple as that.

The Spinning Drillwoolly wormhead's ripping yarns... (via anzweavespin)

19 January 2006

Totally Nanotubular

In August, the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) found a pathway to a major scientific breakthrough - and that pathway is made of extremely small tubes.

Researchers at the UTD NanoTech Institute, in conjunction with an Australian national laboratory (CSIRO), found a quick and easy way to weave nanotube sheets out of freestanding carbon nanotubules, paving the way for commercial applications.

A paper published Aug. 19 in the journal Science announced the findings.

Continue reading "Totally Nanotubular" »

09 December 2005

Chameleon Shawl

People lacking any sense of fashion no longer need worry about their scarf clashing with their clothes this winter — researchers have created one that automatically changes colour to suit an outfit.

The colour-shifting garment, dubbed a chameleon shawl, was developed by Akira Wakita and colleagues at Keio University in Tokyo, Japan.

Interwoven into the scarf material are pixels containing red, blue and green light-emitting diodes (LEDs), so adjusting the brightness of each type of diode turns the scarf a different overall shade.

A small sensor embedded in the garment also enables it to identify the colour of the nearest item of clothing. A microcomputer then selects a suitable colour for the scarf itself to adopt.

Continue reading "Chameleon Shawl" »

20 November 2005

Disappearing Coloured Bubbles

Chemical burns, ruined clothes, eleven years, half a million dollars — it's not easy to improve the world's most popular toy. Yet the success of Tim Kehoe's quest to dye a simple soap bubble may change the way the world uses colour

When Kehoe isn't blowing bubbles for businessmen, he's at home inventing again, coming up with new uses for the disappearing dye, the importance of which is hard to overstate. For decades, the color industry has been focused entirely on color fastness. No one has really thought about the potential of temporary color. That the dye was created for children's bubbles may turn out to be just a footnote, a funny story Sabnis tells at color-chemist conventions.

Among the ideas Kehoe has already mocked up are a finger paint that fades from every surface except a special paper, a hair dye that vanishes in a few hours, and disappearing-graffiti spray paint. There's a toothpaste that would turn kids' mouths a bright color until they had brushed for the requisite 30 seconds, and a soap that would do the same for hand washing.

He's also thinking outside the toy chest, mucking around in the lab on weekends making things like a Swiffer that leaves a momentary trace showing where you've Swiffered and a temporary wall paint that would let you spend a few hours with a color before committing to it. The dye's reach is so great that there are even biotech and industrial uses being discussed. We've got stuff in the works I can't talk about that'll blow bubbles away, he says excitedly. It might take years, but, knowing Tim Kehoe, we'll see them eventually. After all, it's only a little extra work.

The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored BubblesPopular Science (via Column of the Wolf)

24 October 2005

Personalised DIY a Dress Form

One of the hardest parts of sewing is making sure patterns fit to your body shape.

Threads Magazine has an online article that shows four quick, easy, and cheap ways to make your own dress form.

With a few pins, some muslin, and 20 minutes, you can explore more pattern tweaks (and learn more about fitting) on a custom form than you could in hours of flat-pattern investigation on paper.

These DIY dress forms can be made out of duct tape, moulded papier-mâché or paper-tape.

Clone Yourself A Fitting Assistant Threads (via MAKE: Blog)

11 October 2005

Knitwit Gravity Stitch Counter

An English design graduate has created a device to help knitters keep track of the number of stitches they have knitted.

Rebecca Spender's KnitWit device automatically counts the number of stitches in each row by detecting the movement of the knitting needles.

Continue reading "Knitwit Gravity Stitch Counter" »

03 October 2005

Dohler Introduces 2-in-1 Weaving Technique

Dohler USA has introduced a new weaving technique to its line of spa and hotel towels and robes called the 2-in-1 fabric. The new construction is also designed to withstand heavy and continuous washings.

This novelty technique is made of 100 percent cotton and combines two fabrics — waffle and loop terry — which are woven together. It is also preshrunk to avoid excessive shrinkage.

The 2-in-1 fabric coordinates with Dohler's spa collection of sculpted body sheets, bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, bath mats, bath robes, shower wraps and institutional logo towels.

Dohler intros 2-in-1 weaving techniqueHome Textiles Today

27 September 2005

Solar Handbag Lights up Contents

The contents of a woman's handbag have long remained a mystery — often even to the owner — but a new design offers to shine a light on the problem.

A solar-powered handbag designed by a student from Brunel University promises to make finding keys and other items at the bottom of a bag easier.

The handbag, dubbed Sun Trap, uses a solar cell attached to the outside of the bag to trap energy from sunlight.

Continue reading "Solar Handbag Lights up Contents" »

21 September 2005

Smart Rope Tells you how Loaded and Frayed it is

It's a classic scenario: Five friends with a mutual passion, disillusioned with their choices after their East Coast college, pile into a van and head to California to break into the big time.

But don't think rock 'n' roll fantasy. This group came straight out of MIT, and its members don't do guitar and vocals; they do patents and prototypes. They make up Squid Labs, self-billed as a design firm that does differential equations, and they're already picking up the hits: solar panel driveways, swarming parachutes, a SourceForge for hardware and a comic book series for kid engineers.

Squid Labs is housed in a generic warehouse in Emeryville down the street from the elaborate Pixar Animation Studios gates. The building is full of toys and half-completed projects, seemingly more chaos than inspiration. The desks of the five founders — Saul Griffith, Colin Bulthaup, Dan Goldwater, Ryan McKinley and Eric Wilhelm — are scattered with papers, scrap metal and wood, and small, bare electronics.

Continue reading "Smart Rope Tells you how Loaded and Frayed it is" »

23 July 2005

Creswick Woollen Mills

Around 30 years ago, Australia started to dismantle the tariff protection which had existed for decades in the footwear, clothing and textile industries. Back then, many large Australian towns had their own spinning mills. The removal of protection led to all but a handful of mills being shut down. Amid all that gloom, one mill in western Victoria has battled against the cheap imports and actually prospered, now to be the only large-scale Australian mill which spins coloured yarn. The mill's survival is due to the tenacity and foresight of one of the nation's oldest businessmen.

Coloured WoolLandline

18 April 2005

Extreme Textiles

A knitted bag holds a weakened heart, helping it pump blood. Electricity flows through the threads of a battery-powered fleece jacket, keeping the wearer warm. Carbon fibres are braided into structures that look like mushrooms, but are actually prototypes of automotive engine valves. Other fibres are shaped into bicycle frames and sculling oars.

Polymer skin is created using a process called electrospinning, that makes fibres out of an electrically charged solution containing dissolved polymers and sticks them onto an electrically charged surface. The fibres fall randomly but form a uniform layer, even on a three-dimensional surface. It's sort of like spray-on Gore-Tex, said Dr Heidi Schreuder-Gibson of the Army Natick Soldier Centre. It's very breathable, just like skin.

Continue reading "Extreme Textiles" »

24 March 2005


Biosteel is a new type of yarn that was developed for the soldier of tomorrow, who may be wearing suits made of spider silk and goat, lightweight and five times stronger than steel. It is the end product of a genetic marriage between spider and goat. It was developed at Nexia where scientists took a spider gene, injected it into a single cell of a goat egg and produced a goat named Willow.

Biosteel: A new yarn for the technological ageAll Fiber Arts

15 January 2005

Futuristic 'Smart' Yarns from Carbon Nanotubes

Scientists at The UTD NanoTech Institute achieved a major technological breakthrough by spinning multi-walled carbon nanotube yarns that are strong, tough and extremely flexible, and are both electrically and thermally conducting. Among other things, the futuristic yarns could result in smart clothing that stores electricity, provides ballistic protection and adjusts temperature and porosity to provide greater comfort. The breakthrough, made possible by, in effect, downsizing ancient technology used for wool and cotton spinning to the nanoscale, resulted from an unusual collaboration involving nanotechnologists and experts in wool spinning.

Spinning Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotube YarnsPhyOrg.com (via Slashdot)

Knitting with Nanotubes

As if pulling threads from a silkworm's cocoon, researchers in China have drawn fine yarns of carbon nanotubes from a reservoir of the microscopic carbon cylinders.

The resulting nanotube yarns, which can reach lengths of more than 30 centimetres, might eventually be woven into super-strong materials such as bullet-stopping fabrics, suggest Kaili Jiang, Qunqing Li, and Shoushan Fan of the Nanotechnology Research Centre at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Carbon nanotubes are hollow tubes of carbon atoms just nanometers in diameter. Despite their size, they're incredibly strong, and they hold promise for future generations of microelectronic chips.

The scientists stumbled upon their discovery while trying to pull nanotubes from an array. Instead of removing a bundle, the researchers reeled out a continuous length of nanotube yarn. The component threads are each several hundred nanometres wide. Weak forces called van der Waals interactions hold the threads together end-to-end.

The researchers suggest that a carbon nanotube array just one square centimetre in area can make about 10 metres of yarn.

Unlike other methods of making threads from nanotubes, the new one doesn't require a solvent or some other additive, so the yarn contains pure nanotubes, and after heating, may maintain its superlative mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties, the researchers say.

In one experiment, the researchers formed the yarn into a lightbulb filament and found that its strength and conductivity increased after it heated up.

Knitting with NanotubesScience News

20 November 2004

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.

Continue reading "SiroSPUN: Spinning Process" »

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

24 October 2004

Super Scotchguard

Scientists have developed an invisible coating that will waterproof almost anything including mobile phones.

The revolutionary nanometre-thick coating was first researched to protect soldiers' suits against chemical and biological warfare agents by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) at Porton Down and the University of Durham.

Continue reading "Super Scotchguard" »