Textile Sector- Overview

The share of textile industry in the economy along with its contribution to exports, employment, foreign exchange earnings, investment and value added makes it the single largest manufacturing sector for Pakistan. It contributes around 8.5 percent to GDP, employs 38 percent of the total manufacturing labor force, and contributes between 60-70 percent to total merchandise exports. Indeed, with exports reaching about $8.6 billion in 2004-05, Pakistan is one of the largest textile exporters in the world.
The variety of products ranges from cotton yarn to knitwear. Garment made-ups and bed wear are the most important export products with an export value of about $1.35 billion each. Knitwear, ready made garments and cotton yarn also have important shares in total exports. Overall, the US and the EU are Pakistan’s largest trading partners accounting for 25 percent and 20 percent share of Pakistani exports respectively. Other major importers include China, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Textile trade is classified into two broad categories i.e. textile which include yarn, fabric and made-ups, and clothing which represents readymade garments.

Investment in Textile Sector
Textile industry has made an investment of about $6.0 billion during the last six years. This investment includes both investments through bank loans as well as own sources. This investment has been made in the form of BMR expansion and new capacity. Textile machinery worth US$ 0.6 billion has been imported during 2005-06. the import of textile machinery for the last seven years are documented in Table and Sector wise Investment is shown in figure

Reforms in the Textile Sector
The government is providing support for the local production of textile machinery. A wide ranging campaign to produce contamination free cotton in the country with a view to promoting value addition has already been started. As a result, the cotton prices are now being quoted on a PSCI grade standard basis. To ensure an abundant supply within the country, cotton is allowed to be imported and exported freely. To stabilize prices in the domestic market, the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has been intervening as and when required.
In order to prepare the textile industry in the post quota regime the government has set up a high level Federal Textile Board with Textile Commissioner’s Organization serving as its Secretariat. The Board has been entrusted the task of looking into the issues of clean cotton, labor, social and environment laws, modernization of ginneries, rationalization of tariffs, facilitation in sales tax issues and developing a package to promote garment sector, especially by improving their competitiveness in international market.


At Present, the industry consists of large-scale organized sector and a highly fragmented
Cottage / small-scale sector. The organized sector comprises integrated textile mills i.e. spinning units with Shuttle-less looms. The down stream industry (Weaving, Finishing, Garments, Towels & Hosiery), with great export potential, is mostly in the unorganized sector. The following table depicts the magnitude of the textile industry.




|Cotton has been cultivated in the sub-continent over the last 3000 years. The indigenous variety of cotton, known as "Desi Cotton" |
|has been cultivated in the Indus valley since the ancient period of Mohenjo Daro civilization . Genetically, cotton plant is a |
|perennial and flourished in cotton forests but it was adapted as a seasonal crop for higher productivity with advancement of |
|farming technology. |
|The Desi cotton contains rough fibre characteristics with a staple length of around 20mm and micronaire count of over 5.5. These |
|features make it suitable for a limited use for the production of denims, tarpaulins, Khaddar cloth and other rough fabrics spun |
|and weaved locally in the cottage industry. |
|The British introduced American cotton in the subcontinent at the beginning of 20th century. The genotypes were imported from the |
|North American continent initially and a test-cultivation was made in South Western Indian regions. Dr. Mohammad Afzal, a prominent|
|cotton breeder , introduced the American genotype in Punjab by cross-breeding of Desi with American cotton - 3F variety produced in|
|1917. Since then cotton cultivation has shifted from desi to ‘American’ varieties in Punjab and Sindh, which are primarily crosses |
|of new American breeds with 3F progenies. |
|Because of its finer fibre characteristics, staple length of over 25mm and micronaire below 4.5, American Cotton is capable of |
|being spun at higher counts to produce finer cloth. It is also for use in fabrics blended with man-made fibres. |
|Cotton has played a very significant role in Pakistan’s agro-economy because of the fact that it provides lint for fabrics and seed|
|for edible oil. There was a rapid expansion of cotton cultivation during the late 50’s and 60’s and more area came under |
|cultivation from central Punjab to the Southern Punjab. Short-medium staple varieties like 13/26; B-557 and 4F were grown |
|extensively during the 60’s and early 70’s. With the establishment of the Central Cotton Research Institute in Multan, cotton |
|breeding process attained momentum in the country. Later, the Provincial Cotton Research Station, Multan and Nuclear Institute of |
|Agriculture & Biology (NIAB) at Faisalabad launched breeding programs that produced a number of new high- yielding varieties in the|
|late 70’s and early 80’s, which contributed to the phenomenal growth in cotton production during 80’s. |
|Since 1991-92 when cotton leaf curl virus (CLCV) hit cotton production adversely, the focus of cotton breeding has been on virus |
|resistance. The new virus resistant varieties had a lower yield potential and lower Ginning out Turn percentage (GOT) but recent |
|developments in breeding have managed to produce genotypes that are resistant to CLCV and have a higher GOT with medium long fibre |
|characteristics. Over the next few years, Pakistan, especially lower Punjab is expected to switch over to these new varieties, |
|which are perfectly matched to the international industry requirements. Pakistan is favourably poised to meet the challenges of the|
|times. |
|The prime characteristic common to most Pakistani varieties is the fibre strength, which is the best in the world. If other factors|
|like clean picking, good ginning and elimination of contamination can be managed, local cotton is perhaps the best in the world. |
|Unfortunately, this quality potential was never achieved largely due to the marketing anomalies prevalent in the cotton markets, |
|which impeded the incorporation of the desired technological perfections. |
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|Cotton |
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|Cotton is a natural fiber used primarily as a raw material in textile industry. Being a major crop, Cotton is an economic asset of |
|Pakistan. The cotton production has been estimated 12 million bales approximately for the year 2005-2006. Both Punjab and Sindh are|
|the major cotton growing provinces and their share in total cotton production is estimated at 76% and 23% respectively |
|According to Pakistan Economic Survey 2005-06, cotton accounts for 8.6 percent of the value added in agriculture and about 1.9 |
|percent to GDP. The area and production target for cotton crop during the current fiscal year were 3247 thousand hectares and 15.0 |
|million bales, respectively. The crop was however, sown on the area of 3096 thousand hectares – 4.6 percent less than the target |
|and 3 percent less than last year (3193 thousand hectares). |
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|The major cotton producing countries in the world include China, India, Pakistan, USA and the European Union besides the central |
|Asian and African states |
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Pakistan is among the major global producers and exporters of textiles and apparel. Cotton was primarily used as raw material in Yarn manufacturing but the growing demand for blended yarn and fabrics has shifted the raw-material source towards the Man-Made or Synthetic Fiber in Pakistan.
Pakistan is among the major global producers and exporters of textiles and apparel. Cotton was primarily used as raw material in Yarn manufacturing but the growing demand for blended yarn and fabrics has shifted the raw-material source towards the Man-Made or Synthetic Fiber in Pakistan. The MMF industry in Pakistan has gradually developed during the last decade but still Pakistan usage is currently at 74% cotton and 26% man-made fibers, whereas the world fiber mix is 45% cotton and 55% man-made fiber
Man-made Fiber sub-sector is organized and most of the production is from the five key players producing Polyester Staple Fiber (PSF)

Synthetic Fiber Manufacturing Sector
This sector has made progress in line with demand of the textile industry. Presently there are seven polyester fiber units with production capacity of 625,000 tons per annum, two acrylic fiber units of which one unit has started its Commercial production in December 1999 with rated capacity of 25,000 tons per annum while other unit of crescent group is under installation. One unit of viscose fiber with a capacity of 10,000 tons has also gone into production. Besides, import of fibers is also permissible to supplement the local production

Filament Yarn Manufacturing Industry

The synthetic filament yarn manufacturing industry picked up momentum during 5th Five Year Plan when demand and hence imports increased and private sector was permitted to make feasible investment in the rising market conditions. Following three kinds of filament yarn are manufactured locally: Production capacity of polyester filament yarn has increased while the demand for local synthetic weaving industry is export sales are not feasible and local market is heavily flooded with smuggled goods. The production of polyester filament yarn is approximately 78000 tones per annum. The duty on filament yarn was reduced last year.
While it was helpful to the synthetic weaving units, its impact on the filament industry is evident in the form of closure. Recently hosiery sector has started consuming synthetic yarns for export of knitted garments, which are, both value added as well as diversified in product.


Art Silk and Synthetic Weaving Industry
Art silk and synthetic weaving industry has developed over the time on cottage based power looms units comprising of 8-10 looms spread all over the country. There are approximately 90, 000 looms in operation of which 30, 000 looms are working on blended yarn and 60,000 loom on filament yarn. Besides there are some mobile looms which become operational on market demand. The major concentration is in Karachi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, and Jalalpur Jattan as well as in the unsettled area (Bara, Sawat, Khyber Agency and Waziristan).


Spinning is the process of converting fibers into yarn. The fibers may be natural fibers such as cotton or manmade fibers such as polyester. Sometimes, the term spinning is also used for production of manmade filament yarn (yarn that is not made from fibers). Whatsoever is the case, the final product of

spinning is yarn. Spinning is the process of converting fibres into yarn. The fibres may be natural fibres such as cotton or man-made fibres (MMFs) such as polyester. Sometimes, term spinning is also used for production of man-made filament yarn (yarn that is not made from fibres). Whatsoever is the case, the final product of spinning is yarn.
Cotton value chain starts from Ginning that adds value to it by separating cotton from seed and impurities but Spinning can rightly be called as the first process of the chain that adds value to cotton by converting into a new product i.e. conversion from ginned cotton into cotton yarn. The importance of spinning cannot be overemphasized. Since spinning is in the beginning of value chain, so all the later value added processes of weaving, knitting, processing, garments and made-ups manufacturing are dependent upon it. If spinning industry produces sub-standard yarn, its effect goes right across the entire value chain.
The spinning sector forms the heart of the textile industry. This sector produces yarn for downstream sectors, namely weaving, processing and knitting. Pakistan is the third largest player in Asia with a spinning capacity of 5% of the total world and 7.6% of the capacity in Asia. Pakistan’s growth rate has been 6.2% per annum and is second only to Iran amongst the major players. At present, cotton-spinning sector is comprised of 458 textile units (50 composite units and 408 spinning units) with 8.8 million spindles and 77 thousand rotors in operation with capacity utilization of 87 percent and 49 percent respectively, during July-Feb 2005-06


Weaving sector is one of the most important textile sub-sectors. The exports of woven fabrics and other related woven made-ups form a major portion of textile exports from Pakistan.
There are three different sub-sectors in weaving i.e, Integrated, independent Weaving Units, and Power Loom Units. Investment has taken place in shuttle less loom, both in integrated and independent weaving sector. Further investment in this sector will be forthcoming in the medium term.

The Power Loom Sector has modernized and registered a phenomenal growth over the last two decades. The growth in power loom sector owes to a larger extent on the government policies pursued this far as well as increased demand for the product. This sector is producing comparatively low value added Grey Cloth of mostly inferior quality. Problems of the power loom sector revolve mainly around the poor technology, scarcity of quality yarn and lack of institutional financing for its development from unorganized sector to an organized one. There is need for training facilities and guidance to diversify their products, especially to cater the needs of the garment industry. However, the performance of cloth sector remained in 2006 is far better than the year 2005.

A) Integrated Textile Mills
These are composite units with spinning and weaving operation at one premise. There are about 50 integrated textile units with an installed capacity of about 9,050 looms. Recent phenomenon of induction of Shuttle-less looms, viz. Projectile and Air jet looms, in this sector is a healthy sign. As the pace of investment increases, the number of modern looms in this sector is on increase. However, the textile millers still prefer to set up an independent weaving unit rather than integrated ones.
B) Independent Weaving Units
This is a new segment of weaving units, which is in the process of coming up on the same pattern as independent spinning units. Motivated by market demand and government incentives as well as shift towards high quality fabrics, the entrepreneurs are establishing independent weaving units with shuttle-less looms. These looms are both second-hand and new ones and employ the modern technology of Rapier, Projectile and Air jet looms.
C) Power Loom Sector
The power loom sector has registered a phenomenal growth over the last two decades. New automatic cop-change looms of local origin are being added. The trend is to add wider width looms to produce cloth for exports. The growth of power loom sector has been due to market forces. This sector is producing comparatively low value added Grey cloth of mostly inferior quality




Pakistan’s textile industry still needs pampering

The scenario at present is that the economic picture seems robust with a projected GDP growth in excess of 6% for the fourth year in a row and much improved macro-economic indicators. The per capita income is expected to surpass US$ 900, foreign exchange reserves hover around US$ 13 billion figure, there is a sharp increase in foreign direct investment, the country’s Eurobonds received a much favourable international response, there is significant socio-economic development of the nation’s infrastructure, there is a much better implementation of economic reforms, and inspite of hiccups, the privatization process is in motion.

On the other hand, it is imperative to note that the 9/11 syndrome has also contributed significantly to the achievement of economic objectives. The re-profiling and write-off of the debt portfolio, the assistance of multilateral lending agencies, the upsurge in remittances by expatriate Pakistanis, the role of Pakistan as a frontline state in the war against terrorism, and the trade incentives given by EU countries, may not be possible in the years ahead. Pakistan is facing a tough international environment and recent events have highlighted the domestic economic challenges too. The country is in the throes of an over-heated economy, negative fiscal developments and a widening external account gap. In this scenario, the textile sector has become vulnerable again.
On December 31, 2004, the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing ended resulting in the abolishment of the quantitative restrictions on textiles and clothing in international trade. Pakistan was projected as being one of the major players in the global textile market, taking advantage of its inherent plus points, such as being the fourth largest cotton growing country, abundant textile workforce, intensive investment in capital equipment and capacity building, low interest rates, a vibrant stock market, and entrepreneurial expertise. Pakistan was poised to make inroads into the global share of countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Nepal, who were perceived as vulnerable to liberalization of international trade. Pakistan was designated as the producer of excellent quality towels, bedwear, and cotton yarn.
Much to the chagrin of the policymakers as well as the stakeholders, the oft-repeated motivational mantra, that after the elimination of the quota regime Pakistani textile sector would have more opportunities than challenges just did not hold juice. The textile sector instead faced pressures from internal as well as external influences. These impacted heavily on the cost of doing business in Pakistan.
The Achilles’ heel for the textile sector has been the unpredictable and frequent increases in the rates of power and gas, the low availability of water, and the disruptions, power shortage, and breakdowns in the systems. Moreover, the discretionary authority given to utilities to sanction connections has further aggravated the concerns of the industrialists. Gas is an important natural resource yet its tariff is excessively high because of subsidies given to some sectors and because of the method of calculating the guaranteed return on average net fixed assets provided to the two gas companies, i.e. 17% for SSGC and 17.5% for SNGPL. However, from October 2006 a new formula has been devised that links the guaranteed return to gas companies to the KIBOR rate plus 8%. This, in effect, would increase the guaranteed return for the gas companies.
KESC and WAPDA are unable to ensure uninterrupted power, and because of other crucial reasons like rates, attitudes, and regulations, many industries have opted for their own captive power generation. These are based on furnace oil, diesel, or gas. Textile industries consume 8.7% and 10.96% of total sales of SSGC and SNGPL respectively while captive power plants consume 10.16% and 4.68% of their total sales. The gas rates in Pakistan are US$ 4.02/MMBTU for general industries as well as captive power plants, while in Bangladesh the rates are US$ 1.90 and US$ 2.65 respectively.
These power rates are substantially excessive and if the invisible losses due to load-shedding and power outrages are taken into consideration, then the impact on the total cost of the product is formidable. Water for Karachi-based textile processing industries is expensive too. Due to non-availability of the required water supply, the industries have no option but to depend on the water tanker mafia to supply water, and that too at a steep cost. The water supply situation is pathetic as well as inequitable since SITE Karachi, the largest and oldest industrial estate of the country having 3002 industries including 40% of the total textile processing mills of the country has a meager laid down water quota. The estimated cost to Karachi units is about Rs 0.50 per square meter.
The solution lies in rationalizing the utilities rates and putting on hold the frequent increases. Gas prices must be reduced by at least 45% on an immediate basis. Gas prices have gone up by 48% since January 2005. Instead of coming up with a consumer-friendly formula for the gas companies, the new formula devised by the Petroleum Ministry would critically affect the viability of the manufactured textile products. The new management of KESC has still not found its bearings and their methods of operation have made lives miserable for the business and industrial establishments as well as for the citizens of Karachi. The nonchalant pronouncements of the concerned Ministry further add fuel to the fire. The general impression is that the KESC hierarchy is not presenting the pragmatic and correct picture to the decision makers.
The water problem in Karachi can be addressed to some extent by the installation of effluent treatment plants in all five industrial estates of the city so that environmental standards are complied with and also treated water is available for industrial utilization. The government must take the initiative and set up water desalination plants on a priority basis as the future supply of water to Karachi would continue to have negative ramifications.


Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn may be turned into cloth. Knitting consists of loops called stitches pulled through each other. The active stitches are held on a needle until another loop can be passed through them.

Knitting may be done by hand or by machine. By hand, there are numerous styles and methods. Some of these produce an entirely different end-product; some produce very similar results. Flat knitting, which is done on two straight needles, produces a length of cloth, while circular knitting, which is done on circular or double-pointed needles, produces a seamless tube.

Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products, by giving the final piece different color, texture, weight or integrity.

Types of knitting.

➢ Weft knitting versus warp knitting
➢ Flat knitting versus circular knitting

Warp knitting.
Warp knitting is a family of knitting methods in which the yarn zigzags along the length of the fabric, i.e., following adjacent columns ("wales") of knitting, rather than a single row ("course"). For comparison, knitting across the width of the fabric is called weft knitting.

Since warp knitting requires that the number of separate strands of yarn ("ends") equals the number of stitches in a row, warp knitting is almost always done by machine, not by hand.

Warp knitting comprises several types of knitted fabrics, including tricot, raschel knits, and milanese knits. All warp-knit fabrics are resistant to runs and relatively easy to sew.

➢ Tricot is very common in lingerie.
➢ Milanese is stronger, more stable, smoother and more expensive than tricot and, hence, is used in better lingerie. Milanese is now virtually obsolete.
➢ Raschel knits do not stretch significantly and are often bulky; consequently, they are often used as an unlined material for coats, jackets, straight skirts and dresses.
The largest outlet for the Raschel Warp Knitting Machine is for Lace fabric and trimmings.

Weft Knitting
Single yarn thread is feed to all needle to weft knitting machines. Feedersw are use to feed the yarn to needles.

Weft knitting versus warp knitting.

There are two major varieties of knitting: weft knitting and warp knitting.[1] A weft-knitted fabric consists of horizontal, parallel courses of yarn and requires only a single yarn. By contrast, warp knitting requires one yarn for every stitch in the course, or horizontal row; these yarns make vertical parallel wales. Warp knitting is resistant to runs, and is common in lingerie fabric such as tricot.

Warp knitting is generally done by machine, whereas weft knitting may be done by machine or by hand

Flat knitting.
Flat knitting is a method for producing knitted fabrics in which the work is turned periodically, i.e., the fabric is knitted from alternating sides. The two sides (or "faces") of the fabric are usually designated as the right side (the side that faces outwards, towards the viewer and away from the wearer's body) and the wrong side (the side that faces inwards, away from the viewer and towards the wearer's body).
Flat knitting is usually contrasted with circular knitting, in which the fabric is always knitted from the same side. Flat knitting can complicate knitting somewhat compared to circular knitting, since the same stitch (as seen from the right side) is produced by two different movements when knitted from the right and wrong sides. Thus, a knit stitch (as seen from the right side) may be produced by a knit stitch on the right side, or by a purl stitch on the wrong side. This may cause the gauge of the knitting to vary in alternating rows of stockinette fabrics; however, this effect is usually not noticeable, and may be eliminated with practice (the usual way) or by using needles of two different sizes (an unusual way).
In flat knitting, the fabric is usually turned after every row. However, in some versions of double knitting with two yarns and double-pointed knitting needles, the fabric may turned after every second row.
In Industrial Knitting applications, the terms "Flat" and "Circular" have very different meanings to those given above.
A "Flat" or Vee Bed knitting machine consists of 2 flat needle beds arranged in an upside-down "V" formation. These needle beds can be up to 2.5 metres wide. A carriage, also known as a Cambox or Head, moves backwards and forwards across these needle beds, working the needles to selectively, knit, tuck or transfer stitches. A flat knitting machine is very flexible, allowing complex stitch designs, shaped knitting and precise width adjustment. It is, however relatively slow when compared to a circular machine.
A Circular knitting machine has a "Needle Bed" which is cylindrical, known as the CYLINDER. If you imagine the sides of a coffee cup with grooves machined in it equidistantly all the way around, you get the idea.

Some circular machines also have a second "Needle Bed", called the DIAL. If you now imagine a saucer with grooves radiating out from the centre, sitting on top of your coffee cup, you can get the image.

This arrangement can range from 4 inches across for sock/hosiery machines, to 4 feet for large fabric machines.

These machines operate either by:

➢ Rotating the Cylinder and Dial, while keeping the camboxes stationary, or
➢ Rotating the camboxes while keeping the Cylinder and Dial stationary.
Both of these formats have advantages and disadvantages.

Circular knitting is very fast, but has limitations in design scope when compared to a Flat machine.

The two largest manufacturers of industrial flat knitting machines are Stoll of Germany, and Shima Seiki of Japan.
A generic term, "Weft Knitting" is used in industry to describe both "Flat" and "Circular" methods of production. This differentiates these processes from the related method of "Warp Knitting".

In Weft Knitting, the yarn travels along or around the bed of needles, in its simplest form this means from one adjacent needle to the next in a continuous loop construction. During flat bed knitting, the cam box then returns in the opposite direction, taking the yarn back across the needles in a reciprocal process; in circular the yarn is fed in in continuous spirals, usually by multiple feeders to increase production speed. (This is why some tee shirts have twisted side seams after washing).

Both Weft and Warp Knitting take their names from weaving, where the Weft is the thread that runs from selvedge to selvedge, and the Warp thread is that which lies perpendicular to the selvedge edge of the fabric, both threads crossing at right angles to the other.

A scarf knitted using flat knitting.

Circular knitting.

Circular knitting or knitting in the round is a form of knitting that creates a seamless tube. When knitting circularly, the knitting is cast on and the circle of stitches is joined. Knitting is worked in rounds (the equivalent of rows in flat knitting) in a spiral.Originally, circular knitting was done using a set of four or five double-pointed needles. Later, circular needles were invented, which can also be used to do circular knitting: the circular needle looks like two short knitting needles connected by
Knitting using a circular needle.
a cable between them. Machines also do circular knitting; double bed machines can be set up to knit on the front bed in one direction then the back bed on the return, creating a knitted tube. Specialized knitting machines for sock-knitting use individual latch-hook needles to make each stitch in a round frame.Many types of sweaters are traditionally knit in the round. Planned openings (arm holes, necks, cardigan fronts) are temporarily knitted with extra stitches, reinforced if necessary. Then the extra stitches are cut to create the opening, and are stitched with a sewing machine to prevent unraveling

Circular knitting.

Flat knitting versus circular knitting.

Circular knitting (also called "knitting in the round") is a form of knitting that creates a seamless tube. Knitting is worked in rounds (the equivalent of rows in flat knitting) in a spiral. Originally, circular knitting was done using a set of four or five double-pointed knitting needles. Later, circular needles were invented. A circular needle resembles two short knitting needles connected by a cable between them. Flat knitting, on the other hand, is used, in its most basic form, to make flat, rectangular pieces of cloth. It is done with two straight knitting needles and is worked in rows, horizontal lines of stitches.

Circular knitting is employed to create pieces that are circular or tube-shaped, such as hats, socks, mittens, and sleeves. Flat knitting is usually used to knit flat pieces like scarves, blankets, afghans, and the backs and fronts of sweaters.

There is also such a thing as finger knitting. It is not done like knitting on needles, it is done on your fingers. This produces a tube like piece.

History and culture.

One of the earliest known examples of knitting was finely decorated cotton socks found in Egypt in the end of the first millennium AD.The first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. With the invention of the knitting machine, however, knitting "by hand" became a useful but non-essential craft. Similar to quilting, spinning, and needlepoint, knitting became a social activity.

Hand-knitting has gone into and out of fashion many times in the last two centuries, and at the turn of the 21st century it is enjoying a revival. According to the industry group Craft Yarn Council of America, the number of women knitters in the United States age 25–35 increased 150% in the two years between 2002 and 2004. While some may say knitting has never really gone away, this latest reincarnation is less about the make do and mend of the 1940’s and 50’s and more about making a statement about individuality as well as developing an innate sense of community. Additionally, many contemporary knitters have an interest in blogging about their knitting, patterns, and techniques.

There are now numerous groups that are not only growing individually, but also forming international communities. Communities also exist online, with blogs being very popular, alongside online groups and social networking through mediums such as Yahoo! Groups, where people can share tips and techniques, run competitions, and share their patterns. More people are finding knitting a recreation and enjoying the hobby with their family. Knitting parties also are becoming popular in small and large communities around the U.S. and Canada.

Properties of knitted fabrics

The topology of a knitted fabric is relatively complex. Unlike woven fabrics, where strands usually run straight horizontally and vertically, yarn that has been knitted follows a loopy path along its row, as with the red strand in the diagram at left, in which the loops of
Schematic of stockinette stitch, the
most basic weft-knit fabric
one row have all been pulled through the loops of the row below it.
Because there is no single straight line of yarn anywhere in the pattern, a knitted piece can stretch in all directions. This elasticity is unavailable from woven fabrics, which only stretch along the bias. Many modern stretchy garments, even as they rely on elastic synthetic materials for some stretch, also achieve at least some of their stretch through knitted patterns.
The basic knitted fabric (as in the diagram, and usually called a stocking or stockinette pattern) has a definite "right side" and "wrong side". On the right side, the
Close-up of stockinette stitch
visible portions of the loops are the verticals connecting two rows, arranged in a grid of V shapes. On the wrong side, the ends of the loops are visible, both the tops and bottoms, creating a much more
bumpy texture sometimes called reverse stockinette. (Despite being the "wrong side," reverse stockinette is frequently used as a pattern in its own right.) Because the yarn holding rows together is all on the front, and the yarn holding side-by-side stitches together is all on the back, stockinette fabric has a strong tendency to curl toward the front on the top and bottom, and toward the back on the left and right side.

Stitches can be worked from either side, and various patterns are created by mixing regular knit stitches with the "wrong side" stitches, known as purl stitches, either in columns (ribbing), rows (garter, welting), or more complex patterns. Each such fabric has different properties: a garter stitch has much more vertical stretch, while ribbing stretches much more horizontally. Because of their front-back symmetry, these two fabrics have little curl, making them popular as edging, even when their stretch properties are not desired.

Different combinations of knit and purl stitches, along with more advanced techniques, generate fabrics of considerably variable consistency, from gauzy to very dense, from highly stretchy to relatively stiff, from flat to tightly curled, and so on.


The most common texture for a knitted garment is that generated by the flat stockinette stitch—as seen, though very small, in machine-made stockings and T-shirts—which is worked in the round as nothing but knit stitches, and worked flat as alternating rows of knit and purl. Other simple textures can be made with nothing but knit and purl stitches, including garter stitch, ribbing, and moss and seed stitches. Adding a "slip stitch" (where a loop is passed from one needle to the other) allows for a wide range of textures, including heel and linen stitches, and a number of more complicated patterns.
Some more advanced knitting techniques create a surprising variety of complex textures. Combining certain increases, which can create small eyelet holes in the resulting fabric, with assorted decreases is key to creating knitted lace, a very open fabric resembling lace. Changing the order of stitches from one row to the next, usually with the help of a cable needle or stitch holder, is key to cable knitting, producing an endless variety of cables, honeycombs, ropes, and Aran sweater patterning. Entrelac forms a rich checkerboard texture by knitting small squares, picking up their side edges, and knitting more squares to continue the piece.

The appearance of a garment is also affected by the weight of the yarn, which describes the thickness of the spun fibre. The thicker the yarn, the more visible and apparent stitches will be; the thinner the yarn, the finer the texture.

Plenty of finished knitting projects never use more than a single colour of yarn, but there are many ways to work in multiple colors. Some yarns are dyed to be either variegated (changing color every few stitches in a random fashion) or self-striping (changing every few rows). More complicated techniques permit large fields of colour (intarsia, for example), busy small-scale patterns of color (such as Fair Isle), or both (double knitting and slip-stitch colour, for example).

Yarn with multiple shades of the same hue are called ombre, while a yarn with multiple hues may be known as a given colorway — a green, red and yellow yarn might be dubbed the "Parrot Colorway" by its manufacturer, for example. Heathered yarns contain small amounts of fibre of different colours, while tweed yarns may have greater amounts of different coloured fibres.

There are many hundreds of different knitting stitches used by knitters. A piece of knitting begins with the process of casting on (also known as "binding on"), which involves the initial creation of the stitches on the needle. Different methods of casting on are used for different effects: one may be stretchy enough for lace, while another provides a decorative edging — Provisional cast-ons are used when the knitting will continue in both directions from the cast-on. There are various method employed to "cast on," such as the "thumb method" (also known as "slingshot" or "long-tail" cast-ons), where the stitches are created by a series of loops that will, when knitted, give a very loose edge ideal for "picking up stitches" and knitting a border; the "double needle method" (also known as "knit-on" or "cable cast-on"), whereby each loop placed on the needle is then "knitted on," which produces a firmer edge ideal on its own as a border; and many more. The number of active stitches remains the same as when cast on unless stitches are added (an increase) or removed (a decrease).
Most Western-style knitters follow either the English style (in which the yarn is held in the right hand) or the Continental style (in which the yarn is held in the left hand). A third but less common method, called combination knitting, may also be used.

Once the knitted piece is finished, the remaining live stitches are "cast off." Casting (or "binding") off loops the stitches across each other so they can be removed from the needle without unravelling the item. Although the mechanics are different from casting on, there is a similar variety of methods.

In knitting certain articles of clothing, especially larger ones like sweaters, the final knitted garment will be made of several knitted pieces, with individual sections of the garment knit separately and then sewn together. Seamless knitting, where a whole garment is knit as a single piece, is also possible. Elizabeth Zimmermann is probably the best-known proponent of seamless or circular knitting techniques. Smaller items, such as socks and hats, are usually knit in one piece on double-pointed needles or circular needles. (See Circular knitting.)

Knitting materials
Yarn for hand-knitting is usually sold as balls or skeins (hanks), although it may also be wound on spools or cones. Skeins and balls are generally sold with a yarn-band, a label that describes the yarn's weight, length, dye lot, fiber content, washing instructions, suggested needle size, likely gauge, etc. It is common practice to save the yarn band for future reference, especially if additional skeins must be purchased. Knitters generally ensure that the yarn for a project comes from a single dye lot. The dye lot specifies a group of skeins that were dyed together and thus have precisely the same color; skeins from different dye-lots, even if very similar in color, are usually slightly different and may produce a visible stripe when knitted together. If a knitter buys insufficient yarn of a single dye lot to complete a project, additional skeins of the same dye lot can sometimes be obtained from other yarn stores or online.

The thickness of the yarn is a significant factor in determining the gauge, i.e., how many stitches and rows are required to cover a given area for a given stitch pattern. Thicker yarns generally require thicker knitting needles, whereas thinner yarns may be knit with thick or thin needles. Hence, thicker yarns generally require fewer stitches, and therefore less time, to knit up a given garment. Patterns and motifs are coarser with thicker yarns; thicker yarns produce bold visual effects, whereas thinner yarns are best for refined patterns. Yarns are grouped by thickness into six categories: superfine, fine, light, medium, bulky and superbulky; quantitatively, thickness is measured by the number of wraps per inch (WPI). The related weight per unit length is usually measured in tex or dernier.
Before knitting, the knitter will typically transform a hank into a ball where the yarn emerges from the center of the ball; this making the knitting easier by preventing the yarn from becoming easily tangled. This transformation may be done by hand, or with a device known as a ballwinder. When knitting, some knitters enclose their balls in jars to keep them clean and untangled with other yarns; the free yarn passes through a small hole in the jar-lid.

A yarn's usefulness for a knitting project is judged by several factors, such as its loft (its ability to trap air), its resilience (elasticity under tension), its washability and colorfastness, its hand (its feel, particularly softness vs. scratchiness), its durability against abrasion, its resistance to pilling, its hairiness (fuzziness), its tendency to twist or untwist, its overall weight and drape, its blocking and felting qualities, its comfort (breathability, moisture absorption, wicking properties) and of course its look, which includes its color, sheen, smoothness and ornamental features. Other factors include allergenicity; speed of drying; resistance to chemicals, moths, and mildew; melting point and flammability; retention of static electricity; and the propensity to become stained and to accept dyes. Different factors may be more significant than others for different knitting projects, so there is no one "best" yarn. The resilience and propensity to (un)twist are general properties that affect the ease of hand-knitting. More resilient yarns are more forgiving of irregularities in tension; highly twisted yarns are sometimes difficult to knit, whereas untwisting yarns can lead to split stitches, in which not all of the yarn is knitted into a stitch. A key factor in knitting is stitch definition, corresponding to how well complicated stitch patterns can be seen when made from a given yarn. Smooth, highly spun yarns are best for showing off stitch patterns; at the other extreme, very fuzzy yarns or eyelash yarns have poor stitch definition, and any complicated stitch pattern would be invisible.
Although knitting may be done with ribbons, metal wire and more exotic filaments, most yarns are made by spinning fibers. In spinning, the fibers are twisted so that the yarn resists breaking under tension; the twisting may be done in either direction, resulting in an Z-twist or S-twist yarn. If the fibers are first aligned by combing them, the yarn is smoother and called a worsted; by contrast, if the fibers are carded but not combed, the yarn is fuzzier and called woolen-spun. The fibers making up a yarn may be continuous filament fibers such as silk and many synthetics, or they may be staples (fibers of an average length, typically a few inches); naturally filament fibers are sometimes cut up into staples before spinning. The strength of the spun yarn against breaking is determined by the amount of twist, the length of the fibers and the thickness of the yarn. In general, yarns become stronger with more twist (also called worst), longer fibers and thicker yarns (more fibers); for example, thinner yarns require more twist than do thicker yarns to resist breaking under tension. The thickness of the yarn may vary along its length; a slub is a much thicker section in which a mass of fibers is incorporated into the yarn.

The spun fibers are generally divided into animal, plant and synthetic fibers. These fiber types are chemically different, corresponding to proteins, carbohydrates and synthetic polymers, respectively. Animals fibers include silk, but generally are long hairs of animals such as sheep (wool), goat (angora, or cashmere goat), rabbit (angora), llama, alpaca, dog, camel, yak, and muskox (qiviut). Plants used for fibers include cotton, flax (for linen), bamboo, ramie, hemp, jute, nettle, raffia, yucca, coconut husk, banana trees, soy and corn. Rayon and acetate fibers are also produced from cellulose mainly derived from trees. Common synthetic fibers include acrylics,[10] polyesters such as dacron and ingeo, nylon and other polyamides, and olefins such as polypropylene. Of these types, wool is generally favored for knitting, chiefly owing to its superior elasticity, warmth and (sometimes) felting; however, wool is generally less convenient to clean and some people are allergic to it. It is also common to blend different fibers in the yarn, e.g., 85% alpaca and 15% silk. Even within a type of fiber, there can be great variety in the length and thickness of the fibers; for example, Merino wool and Egyptian cotton are favored because they produce exceptionally long, thin (fine) fibers for their type.

A single spun yarn may knitted as is, or braided or plied with another. In plying, two or more yarns are spun together, almost always in the opposite sense from which they were spun individually; for example, two Z-twist yarns are usually plied with an S-twist. The opposing twist relieves some of the yarns' tendency to curl up and produces a thicker, balanced yarn. Plied yarns may themselves be plied together, producing cabled yarns or multi-stranded yarns. Sometimes, the yarns being plied are fed at different rates, so that one yarn loops around the other, as in bouclé. The single yarns may be dyed separately before plying, or afterwards to give the yarn a uniform look.

The dyeing of yarns is a complex art. Yarns need not be dyed; or they may be dyed one color, or a great variety of colors. Dyeing may be done industrially, by hand or even hand-painted onto the yarn. A great variety of synthetic dyes have been developed since the synthesis of indigo dye in the mid-19th century; however, natural dyes are often favored, although they are generally less brilliant. The color-scheme of a yarn is sometimes called its colorway. Variegated yarns can produce interesting visual effects, such as diagonal stripes; conversely, a variegated yarn may frustrate an otherwise good knitting pattern by producing distasteful color combinations

Knitting tools
Knitting needles
The process of knitting has three basic tasks: the active (unsecured) stitches must be held so they don't drop; these stitches must be released sometime after they are secured; and new bights of yarn must be passed through the fabric, usually through active stitches, thus securing them. In very simple cases, knitting can be done without tools, using only the fingers to do these tasks; however, knitting is usually carried out using tools such as knitting needles, knitting machines or rigid frames. Depending on their size and shape, the rigid frames are called knitting boards, knitting rings (also called knitting looms) or knitting spools (also known as knitting knobbies, knitting nancies, or corkers). Other tools are used to prepare yarn for knitting, to measure and design knitted garments, or to make knitting easier or more comfortable.
There are three basic types of knitting needles (also called "knitting pins"). The first and most common type consists of two slender, straight sticks tapered to a point at one end, and with a knob at the other end to prevent stitches from slipping off. Such needles are usually 10-16 inches long but, due to the compressibility of knitted fabrics, may be used to knit pieces significantly wider. The most important property of needles is their diameter, which ranges from below 2 mm to 25 mm (roughly 1 inch). The diameter affects the size of stitches, which affects the gauge of the knitting and the elasticity of the fabric. Thus, a simple way to change gauge is to use different needles, which is the basis of uneven knitting. Although knitting needle diameter is often measured in millimeters, there are several different size systems, particularly those specific to the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan; a conversion table is given at knitting needle. Such knitting needles may be made out of any materials, but the most common materials are metals, wood, bamboo, and plastic. Different materials have different frictions and grip the yarn differently; slick needles such as metallic needles are useful for swift knitting, whereas rougher needles such as bamboo are less prone to dropping stitches. The knitting of new stitches occurs only at the tapered ends, and needles with lighted tips have been sold to allow knitters to knit in the dark.
The second type of knitting needles are straight, double-pointed knitting needles (also called "dpns"). Double-pointed needles are tapered at both ends, which allows them to be knit from either end. Dpns are typically used for circular knitting, especially smaller tube-shaped pieces such as sleeves, collars, and socks; usually one needle is active while the others hold the remaining active stitches. Dpns are somewhat shorter (typically 7 inches) and are usually sold in sets of four or five.

Cable needles are a special case of dpns, although they usually are not straight, but dimpled in the middle. Cable needles are typically very short (a few inches), and are used to hold stitches temporarily while others are being knitted. Cable patterns are made by permuting the order of stitches; although one or two stitches may be held by hand or knit out of order, cables of three or more generally require a cable needle.

The third needle type consists of circular needles, which are long, flexible double-pointed needles. The two tapered ends (typically 5 inches (130 mm) long) are rigid and straight, allowing for easy knitting; however, the two ends are connected by a flexible strand (usually nylon) that allows the two ends to be brought together. Circular needles are typically 24-60 inches long, and are usually used singly or in pairs; again, the width of the knitted piece may be significantly longer than the length of the circular needle. Special kits are available that allow circular needles of various lengths and diameters to be made as needed; rigid ends of various diameters may be screwed into strands of various lengths. The ability to work from either end of one needle is convenient in several types of knitting, such as slip-stitch versions of double knitting. Circular needles may be used for flat or circular knitting.

Ancillary tools
Various tools have been developed to make hand-knitting easier. Tools for measuring needle diameter and yarn properties have been discussed above, as well as the yarn swift, ballwinder and "yarntainers". Crochet hooks and a darning needle are often useful in binding off or in joining two knitted pieces edge-to-edge. The darning needle is used in duplicate stitch (also known as Swiss darning), while the crochet hook is also essential for repairing dropped stitches and some specialty stitches such as tufting. Other tools are used to prepare specific ornaments include the pompom tree for making pompoms conveniently. For large or complex patterns, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of which stitch should be knit in an particular way; therefore, several tools have been developed to identify the number of a particular row or stitch, including circular stitch markers, hanging markers, extra yarn and counters. A second potential difficulty is that the knitted piece will slide off the tapered end of the needles when unattended; this is prevented by "point protectors" that cap the tapered ends. Another problem is that too much knitting may lead to hand and wrist troubles; for this, special stress-relieving gloves are available. Finally, there are sundry bags and containers for holding knitting, yarns and needles.

Industrial applications.
Industrially, metal wire is also knitted into a metal fabric for a wide range of uses including the filter material in cafetieres, catalytic converters for cars and many other uses. These fabrics are usually manufactured on circular knitting machines that would be recognised by conventional knitters as sock machines.

Developments in Knitting
➢ Combined knitting ·
➢ Continental knitting ·
➢ English knitting ·

Combined knitting.
Combined knitting or combination knitting is a style that combines elements of Eastern-style knitting with the Western techniques. By wrapping the yarn the opposite way while purling, the knitter changes the orientation of the resulting loops; then the next row's knit stitches can be formed by inserting the needle from the right (as in Eastern knitting), rather than from the left. The needle is always inserted from the right, whether knitting or purling. This technique is suitable for all knitted fabrics from the basic Stockinette stitch, to any other style, such as Fair Isle, circular knitting, or lace knitting.

The basic adaptation necessary is to substitute "ssk" when directed to "k 2 tog", and vice versa, to orient the slant of the decrease correctly. Most American and European knitting patterns are currently not written to accommodate the needs of Combined knitters. The responsibility rests with the individual knitter to have gained sufficient working knowledge of the changes necessary to convert pattern elements before attempting the entire project, in order for the design to be knitted successfully.

Knitting instructors unfamiliar with this technique will encounter difficulties teaching classes with students using this technique. Proper terminology is essential in assisting teachers to provide adequate instruction to these students. Teachers should familiarize themselves with the works of Annie Modesitt and Anna Zilboorg, among others.

Continental knitting.
Knitting with the yarn in one's left hand is commonly referred to as Continental knitting, German knitting, European knitting, or left-hand knitting. Unlike English knitting, the yarn is held in the left hand; the motion of bringing the yarn forward with a needle held in the other hand is thus sometimes known as picking. Continental knitting is preferred by professional hand-knitters, as it is the more efficient method, requiring the shortest number of specific hand-motions per stitch.

Continental-style knitting, being associated with Germany, fell out of favour in English-speaking countries during World War II; its reintroduction in the United States is often credited to Elizabeth Zimmerman

Hand motions.
The motion of the right wrist is used to slip the right needle into the loop of the stitch being knitted and 'scoop' or 'hook' the yarn onto the right needle. An alternative method of collecting the yarn involves using the thumb or index finger of the right hand to hold the yarn in place as the new stitch is being pulled out of the loop.

This knitting style is often easier to learn for people with crocheting experience, since the way the yarn is held in the left hand is similar to crochet, and the motion of the right hand is similar to the motion seen in crochet, although the knitting needle is held under the palm of the hand. One major difference in the motion of the right wrist is that in crochet the needle may be held more like a pencil; this method of holding the knitting needle like a pencil was briefly made popular around 1900 under the guise of being more ladylike. Nowadays, however, the majority of knitters hold both needles under the palm.
Yarn tension.
The tension in the yarn is controlled by threading the yarn through the fingers of the left hand. Typically, the yarn is looped around the little finger and over the index finger.
This style originated in continental Europe, specifically recognized in Germany, but is also found to a significant degree in the English-speaking world.
Other knitting styles include English knitting (aka right-hand knitting) and Combined knitting.

English knitting.
English knitting, also known as right-hand knitting or throwing, is a style of Western knitting where the yarn about to be knit into the fabric is carried in the right hand. This style is prevalent throughout the English-speaking world, though it is by no means universal.

Other Western knitting styles include continental knitting (also known as "left-hand knitting") and combined knitting. Despite the names, choice of knitting style has little to do with the handedness of the knitter; plenty of left-handed individuals use the English style, and plenty of right-handed knitters use Continental. Various non-Western styles also exist, many of which are substantially similar to these, but which twist each stitch, making for a subtly different-looking fabric.

Here, we assume that there are already stitches on the needles, having been cast on previously. The tail of the yarn is wrapped around the little finger of the right hand (for tension) and over the index finger (for control), and then the right hand will hold the needle with the most recently-knit stitches. (If at the beginning of a row, the right hand will hold the empty needle.) The left hand holds the other needle.

The knit stitch.
If the yarn is sitting in front of the right needle (closer to the knitter), it should first be moved between the needles to the back. We will make one knit stitch into the first loop on the left needle. The right needle is inserted into the left side of that loop. To see what is happening, we can use the two needles to hold that loop wide open: it is through this loop that we will pull the new stitch. The yarn is wrapped counter-clockwise (as you look down at it; see photo) around the right needle, and this new loop is pulled with the right needle through the old one. The stitch is now complete. To prepare for the next stitch, we now withdraw the left needle from the just-completed stitch.
The purl stitch
If the yarn is sitting behind the right needle (away from the knitter), it should first be moved between the needles to the front. We will make one purl stitch---which looks like the back of a knit stitch---into the first loop on the left needle. The right needle is inserted into the right side of that loop. Again, to see what is happening, we can use the needles to hold the loop open. Instead of pulling

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