The Winter Olympics are in full swing. (Real) snow may be in short supply but it is still really cold at the Olympic sports facilities. Along with tricks of the trade ranging from blankets to cold plasters, warm functional underwear is a must for athletes, coaches and spectators alike. It is mostly knitted on circular knitting machines.
“In view of the icy temperatures reported in coverage of the Olympics, thermal underwear would seem to me to be an obvious choice,” says Jürgen Müller, head of the patterns department at the circular knitting machine manufacturer Mayer & Cie. His choice of underwear can be manufactured in different ways on a circular knitting machine.
Extra warm thermal underwear: Single jersey, plush and fine rib all deliver warmth and comfort
First is a fully elastomer-plated fabric made of thicker yarns such as microfibres of between 150/1 and 167/1 dtex, all in E28 gauge. The inside of the single jersey fabric is napped for a fleece effect. Circular knitting machines the Mayer & Cie. expert recommends for this purpose are the MV 4 3.2. II and the S4-3.2. Relanit machines suitable for the manufacture of thermal underwear are the Relanit 3.2 S, the Relanit 3.2 HS and the Relanit 4.0.
Plush fabric with a 1.5 mm short loop also feels like fleece on the skin. The MPU 1.6 knits this fabric in gauges E22 to E28. “Yarn that shrinks a little is especially good for this purpose,” Müller explains. “It can be functional microfibre yarn, which is always multifilament.” A 10 per cent admixture of elastomer yarn is also common. Silver yarn cabe knitted in as an option to prevent unwanted odour generation.
The third alternative for circular machine-knitted thermal underwear is fine rib fabric napped inside. Elastic by definition, it does not require any elastomer content. “Underwear manufacturers often opt for a mixture of 75 per cent cotton and 25 per cent polyester,” Müller says. “On an FV 2.0 or a D4 2.2 the double jersey fabric comes out fine in E22 to E24 gauge.”
Sports underwear, figure accentuating and extra breathable: Body mapping and fine gauges
Those who perform a physical activity with a high degree of intensity and are quick to perspire should wear as their first layer fine single jersey underwear. “Good results,” Jürgen Müller says, “are achieved with polyester and polyamide yarns combined with a higher elastomer content of up to 18 per cent.” The fabric is knitted in fine gauges of E28 to E44 on, for example, an MV 4-3.2 II or an S4-3.2 II. The resulting compression effect makes fabrics especially breathable and easy and pleasant to wear.
“Body mapping is another trend in sports underwear,” Müller says. It takes the different perspiration areas of the human body into account. Patterns are made with double-sided plating. Body mapping requires larger plain segments in the back or stomach area as well as breathable jacquard areas underneath the armpits or on the sides. Body mapping structures almost without exception require elastomer plating. That means knitting with three yarns: basic, plated and elastomer. “The right machine for this task is our MJ 3.2 E,” Müller says, adding that “not even this option is likely to keep spectators warm at the Games in China…”
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