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VASANT R KOTHARI has done Masters in Textiles Technology from DKTEs Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji (Shivaji

University, Kolhapur), Maharashtra. He has also done Diploma in Export Management (Apparel Export) from the Indian Institute of Export Management, and Garment Export and Merchandising Management from NIFT, Bangalore. Presently, hes working as an Assistant Professor in Department of Fashion Technology, NIFT, Bangalore. (This is his ninth input from the series of articles in Knitting Views).

Purl fabric
The Purl fabrics are also known as linklink fabrics. Purl was originally spelt pearl and was so named because of its similar appearance to pearl droplets. In purl, the loops of one course are intermeshed in one direction and the loops of the next course intermeshed in opposite direction, i.e. the alternate courses having face and back loops. It means each wale contains both knit stitches and purl stitches. This differs from the rib fabric, in which the wales contain either knit or purl stitches. A simple purl fabric looks somewhat like the back of a jersey knit on both sides of the fabric. The simplest purl fabric is

known as 1 x 1 purl, in which one course has all knit stitches and the next course has all purl stitches. The cycle repeats on the third course. A 2 x 2 purl knit fabric is made with two courses of knit stitches followed by two courses of purl stitches.

Fig 9.4: Face side of the fabric

Fig 9.2: 1 x 1 purl fabric Back side of the fabric Cross section

Fig 9.1: The technical face of purl fabric

Fig 9.3: Face and back side of plain jersey fabric

Fig 9.5: Knitting notation of purl fabric


Production of purl fabric

Purl-knit fabrics are made on knitting machines called purl-knit machines or linksand-links machines. The purl knitting machines are basically of flat and circular types as shown in fig 9.6. The flat is having two horizontal beds for needle movement and central gap for fabric formation. The circular type has two cylinders, one above the other and thus referred as super imposed cylinder machine. As stitches are sometimes drawn to the front and sometimes to the back, two sets of needles are required to produce these fabrics. In purl machines, however, rather than two distinct, separate sets of needles, one set of doubleheaded latch needles is used as shown in fig 9.7. The two needle beds are in alignment with each other. The double headed needles move from one needle bed to the other, from side to side of the knitted fabric as it is produced, alternately making stitches on one fabric side and then the other. The purl-knit machines used to produce purl knit fabrics are the most versatile industrial knitting machines. These machines can produce plain and rib as well as purl fabrics. By selective programming of needle motion, fabrics of all three types, sometimes with unique design effects are possible. Purl-knit machines are widely used in the sweater industry. Although extremely versatile, the purl knit machines have the lowest rate of production of all knitting machines.

Therefore, the cost per pound of fabric produced is highest for purl knit fabrics. Knitting machines for jersey knits have the highest productivity but the lowest versatility. Productivity for rib-knit machines falls between those for jersey and purl machines.

Fabric characteristics
To identify a purl-knit fabric, fabric need to stretch in its length direction. The appearance of alternating rows of knit stitches and purl stitches in the course direction is evidence of a purl knit. Generally purl-knit fabrics tend to lie flat and do not curl as do jersey knits. Purl fabric has same appearance in face and back. It can unroved from either end. Lengthwise extension is more as compare to width wise and hence purl fabric contract towards the centre in a course wise direction. Thickness of fabric is two to three times more as compare to single jersey fabric. The fabric is commonly used for childrens wear and sweaters.

Fig 9.7: Double headed latch needle

The knitting action

Fig 9.8 shows the knitting action of a flatbed purl machine which has tricks in each of the needle beds. They are in line with one another to enable the transfer of purl needle from the control of a slider in one bed into the control of a slider in the opposite bed. Position 1 shows engagement of the head of the receiving slider with the needle hook that was originally knitting from the opposing bed. In position 2, the needle has been moved to the centre, with both sliders engaging the needle hook. The sliders then start to move back, but the slider in the back bed is pressed down by a cam, so that front bed slider is freed from the needle hook and the needle is transferred to the back bed. In position 3, the slider in the back bed has control of the needle and it can be seen that the yarn is fed to the opposite end of the needle, when compared to that of position 1. Then the slider in the back bed has moved the needle to knock over position to complete the formation of the purl stitch. It should be noted that a purl stitch is made when a loop is formed by one hook and then at the next course by the other hook of the same needle, so that one course is formed on the front bed and the next course is formed on the back bed to create a 1 x 1 purl structure.

Interlock fabric
Interlock-knit fabrics are a variation of rib knits made on the interlock machine. Interlock is an interlocking of two 1 x 1 rib structures in such a way that the face wale of fabric 1 is directly in front of the reverse wale of the rib fabric 2. Interlock has the technical face of plain fabric on both sides, but its smooth surface cannot be stretched out to reveal the reverse meshed loop wales because the wales on each side are exactly opposite to each other and are locked together as shown in Fig. 9.9. Each interlock pattern row (often termed an interlock course) requires two feeder courses, each with a separate yarn that knits on separate alternate needles, producing two half-

Fig 9.6: Circular and flatbed purl knitting machine

Fig 9.8: Purl needle transfer action

Fig 9.9: Interlock fabric structure



gauge 1 x 1 rib courses whose sinker loops cross over each other. Thus, odd feeders will produce alternate wales of loops on each side and even feeders will produce the other wales.

Fig 9.15: Knitting notation of interlock fabric

Production of interlock fabric

Interlock is produced mainly on special cylinder and dial circular machines and on some double-system V-bed flat machines.
Fig 9.10: Interlock fabric structure

Fig 9.17: Interlock cam system

In interlock machine Interlock gating, the needles in two beds being exactly opposite each other so that only one of the two can knit at any feeder Both, the cylinder and dial beds should have two types of needles viz., long and short needles

Minimum of two yarns are required to knit one interlock course and hence a minimum of two feeders supply The knitting style is in such a manner that only long needles of dial and cylinder will knit with the first feeder and only short needles of dial and cylinder will knit with second feeder

Fabric characteristics
To determine whether a fabric is an interlock or a rib, spread the fabric width wise, and view the fabric wales carefully at the top edge of the cloth. If the knit stitches are one behind the other, the fabric is interlock. If the wales of knit stitch alternate, the fabric is rib. Interlock fabric is a reversible balanced, smooth, stable structure that lies flat without curl. Like 1 x 1 rib, it will not unrove from the end knitted first, but it is thicker, heavier and narrower than rib of equivalent gauge, and requires a finer, better, more expensive yarn. It unroves from the course knitted the last. The fabric becomes costlier due to thickness and less production. Interlock is used for outwear fabrics, often using wool, acrylic and polyester yarns, while cotton and polyester/cotton blends are used for the production of underwear fabrics. Interlock fabrics are also popular for blouses, dresses, and dressy T-shirts. Their dimensional stability and the fact that they do not tend to easily stretch out of shape contribute to these popular uses. Interlock fabrics offer a smooth surface for printing by both screen and heattransfer methods
In the next article, we would be discussing about straight bar knitting machine.
(The Author can be contacted at

Fig 9.11: Interlock fabric structure

Alternate placement of long and short needles in both the beds is required The long needle of one bed should face the short needle of the other bed and vice versa Two separate cam systems in each bed, each controlling half the needles in an alternate sequence, one cam system controlling knitting at one feeder, and the other at the next feeder

Fig 9.12: Front view of interlock fabric

Needles set out alternately, one controlled from one cam system, the next from the other; diagonal and not opposite needles in each bed knit together

Fig 9.13: Back view of interlock fabric

Fig 9.14: Cross section view of interlock fabric

Fig 9.16: Graphic representation of two sets of needle on interlock knitting machine