Measuring Fabric Handle to Define Luxury: An Overview of Handle Specification in Next-to-Skin Knitted Fabrics from Merino WoolAn examination is presented of the relevance of luxury to the wool textile and garment supply chain. This examination leads to a review of the concept and importance of fabric handle as a means of defining important aspects of fabric quality. Examples are given for woven fabrics of the general relationships between subjectively assessed fabric handle attributes such as fabric softness and smoothness and measured low stress, generally high deformation, fabric properties such as fabric bending rigidity and extensibility. A brief overview is presented of the development of a system for predicting a set of subjectively assessed handle attributes for next-to-skin knitted fabrics from measurable fabric properties. Seven handle attributes selected by experienced assessors as being important for defining tactile sensations associated with next-to-skin knitted fabrics were: fabric smoothness, hairiness, softness, tightness, dryness, warmth and weight. Subjective assessments on a 1–10 scale of these seven attributes, plus an assessment of overall handle, were conducted by 12 experienced assessors on 74 next-to-skin knitted fabrics. The precision of the mean assessment of the 12 assessors ranged between 0.8 and 1.1, indicating that there was sufficient consensus on key fabric handle assessments to justify development of a method for predicting them from measurements of the physical properties of fabrics. All fabrics were tested using the PhabrOmeter fabric evaluation system, which records the force exerted during insertion of a fabric into and through an orifice. Geometric parameters were derived to describe the PhabrOmeter force-displacement curve results, and statistical models were developed to predict the average handle assessments of the 12 assessors. The precision of the models in predicting the handle intensities of eight fabric attributes on an independent validation set of 22 fabrics was significantly better than the precision of an individual assessor (confidence limits = 1.4–2.6 and 2.5–3.8, for predicted and assessed ratings, respectively). A case is made that this technology has the potential to assist in the growth of new markets for Merino wool products.
- The accurate and objective measurement of various characteristics of natural fibre is known as “fibre metrology”. Measurements are useful in describing the fleece characteristics of any one animal, and can be used to compare the fibre characteristics of animals within the same herd, animals in different herds, or of the same animal at different times. They can be used to compare the progeny of one sire with the progeny of another to assist in formulating breeding strategies. They are used when fleece is sold by description, and processors may use them to predict the performance of pooled fibre during processing. Care needs to be exercised, however, in making these comparisons, as there are many non-genetic factors which may influence these measurements. Before comparing the characteristics of two fleeces, one needs to take into account the influence of such factors as the sex, age, nutrition, colour, and general health of the alpacas from which the fleeces were taken, the climate in which the fleeces were grown, and whether or not a female was lactating, or a male working as a stud sire. Other considerations should include the length of the fibre sampled, the site from which the fibre was sampled, and the technique used to measure the fibre.
- The capability of instruments such as SIROLAN-LASERSCAN (LASERSCAN) and OFDA100 to provide measurements of fibre curvature has resulted in increased interest, within Australia among wool producers and exporters, and among overseas top-makers and spinners. However, the metrology of fibre curvature measurement by these instruments is poorly understood. Standardized conditions for preparation, and measurement procedures that stabilize the curvature of the wool fibres prior to measurement by either instrument, are yet to be defined.
- Objective measurement of alpaca fibre is now an integral process in the showing, breeding, marketing and classing of alpacas and alpaca fibre. Four systems are in common use, those being the OFDA and Laser systems in their laboratory and shed configurations. This study aims to test the comparability of those techniques in measuring alpaca fibre, and thereby validate their use in comparing fibre measured by different techniques.