Woollen-spun wool knitting yarns are normally used to produce sweaters on either fully fashioned or flatbed knitting machines.
Fully fashioned knitting machines, sometimes referred to as straight bar machines or cotton machines, and are traditionally used to produce plain classical-styled sweaters. It should be noted that cotton machines are nothing do with the cotton fibre, but named after the inventor William Cotton, who patented the first machine of this type in the mid-1800s. The machines produce shaped fashioned panels to a predetermined size, and then after knitting the back, front and sleeve panels are linked together.
Garments produced on fully fashioned knitting machines have distinctive fashioning marks, which run parallel to the garment seams.
Wool is used extensively in the production of fully fashioned garments, which are regarded has high class.
Most fully fashioned knitting machines can only produce garments of plain knit construction; however some machines have a stitch transfer mechanism which enables Intarsia garments to be produced such as the classic diamond pattern known as an Argyle.
Because fully fashioned machines only produce plain knit structures, the welt and cuffs of a garment -which are normally of rib knit construction - have to be made on special separate ribbing machines, then linked to the main body of the garment.
Fully fashioned knitting machines range from 9 gauge (gg) to 33 gauge (gg), and unlike other types of knitting machines where the gauge is based on the number of needles per 1 inch, for fully fashioned it is based on the number of needles per 1 and ½ inches.
Flat-bed or V-bed Knitting
Flat-bed or V-bed knitting machines are named so due to the arrangement of the two knitting needle beds opposing each other in an inverted V-formation.
The carriage carrying the yarn being fed traverses across the needle beds and selects the needles to be knitted as it reciprocates from side to side.
Flatbed machines are the most commonly used type, primarily because of their versatility and the almost unlimited patterning capacity due to being able to transfer stitches from one needle bed to the other.
In addition, some parts of the garment such as pockets and trims can be knitted as part of the panel, and don’t have to be added separately by linking at a later stage.
Today, fully computerized, whole garment machines are available. As the name implies, whole garments can be knitted on these types of machines, with little or no further linking or sewing. The net result is that the garment comes off the machine almost ready to wear.