Studying the limits and possibilities of knitted materials will lead to ultra-tough materials


Good morning,

Above article introduces different stitches that change the aspects of common fabrics.

Mentioned is “knot theory” as it relates to knitting.

Over the years I’ve heard references as to how garments are “knit” that determines their desirability between the brands.  My key reference was hearing that Jaegar brand of wool long underwear (“long johns”) was warmer than competing brands due to their method of knitting.  This linked article is probably the clarification to what I heard.

Somewhere here in my research files … applied research; for actual use when looking to purchase garments … is information on the “best” wools such as musk and cashmir. Enhancing the textiles made from them is also a cost-savings measure.

This article got me to thinking about those Austrian wool socks whereas water cannot drip through them. It’s how they’re knitted.

Much to learn …….


  • Comments (46)

    • 2

      Interesting article, although some of it does appear to be just common sense, I’m not sure how much “research” is required to reach the following conclusion?

      “Our research has [shown] that when you have two stitches of the same type (e.g., knit-knit or purl-purl) next to each other (either laterally or vertically), the fabric will be stiffer than fabric with opposite stitch types next to each other (e.g., knit-purl),” Matsumoto says

      That aside, knitted fabrics can be great because they trap air in the voids between the stitches and air is one of the best insulators. The disadvantage is a poor ability to keep out the wind and how easily knit will unravel if you break a single thread, I’m not sure that clever stitches can fix this problem. However felted knit (probably how those socks Bob mentions are made) can be incredibly dense, much better at wind resistance and doesn’t unravel. Also additional water resistance can be achieved from natural lanolin in less heavily processed wool, it’s more itchy though

      I’m a big user of wool clothing and blankets, wool is actually an incredible and often overlooked material, because of weight we’re seeing it quickly replaced by synthetics in the outdoor clothing market however it will always remain my first choice. Wet wool keeps 80% of the insulating properties that it has when it’s dry, compare that to the 10% cotton gives you and you see the instant advantage

      Even though knit is a versatile fabric, I’ve almost always chosen loomed wool over it, partly just because of the amount of time knitting takes over sewing an item of clothing from a bolt of fabric, and partly because of the unraveling issue (quite a big issue for a woods rambling tree climbing person like myself)

      • 3

        Good morning Lady Kaos,

        Glad you found article interesting.

        I admit not knowing about fabric stiffness due same type of stiching.

        Had one done research on oil cloth – cotton fabric soaked in linseed oil.

      • 3

        A knit stitch puts the knot on one side of the fabric and purl puts the knot on the other side of the fabric, so if you knit all the rows (or purl all the rows) and because each time you reach the end of a row and change direction the piece gets turned 180 degrees, you’re finished fabric will have knots on both sides as well as the weave in the middle, so you’re finished fabric is 1/3rd thicker than it would be if you did alternate rows purl then knit where you would end up with a flat side and a side with knots

        So the alternate stitch fabric is thinner, more flexible and less dense. Store bought knitwear is usually made in this way because the yarn goes further so it’s cheaper to make

        Yep, oilcloth, very heavy but good stuff, the perfect homemade bushcraft tarp 🙂 it can burn easily though

      • 7

        Good afternoon Lady Kaos,

        Appreciate explaination re the stitching. Thank you.

        Oilcloth research was for end of the world scenerios. 

      • 1


        Quote – Oilcloth research was for end of the world scenerios

        of course, I wasn’t suggesting anything otherwise, I’m mostly new to prepping so all my experience of survival is from other areas, but I hope the skills are transferable

      • 3

        Good morning Lady Kaos,

        Yes, of course, just about all the skills are transferable. Those that are not are actually the same… that is, duplicative.  Food stockpiles are an example.

        Preparedness / prepping involves thr modifications.  Thus, for example, for an evacuation, lightweight, well-packed foods to carry or transport gets factored in.  Extra wool socks carried during an evac probably requires a waterproof pouch accompanied by anti-fungus food powder.

      • 2

        Good morning Bob,

        Some info on oilcloth that you may want to consider depending on what you are planning to use it for. 

        From the linked article:

        “Boiled linseed oil was prepared with a long boiling of linseed oil with metal salts, original lead dross. The modern oil is less toxic, but also less suitable for making oilcloth.”


      • 4

        “Boiled linseed oil was prepared with a long boiling of linseed oil with metal salts, original lead dross. The modern oil is less toxic, but also less suitable for making oilcloth.”

        Some interesting information Ubique, thank you 🙂

        To add to it a little: as far as I know if you boil linseed oil something changes in it’s chemical structure, then when it drys it goes stiff and flexible on the fabric it’s been painted onto. I don’t know how true this is but someone at a historical reenactment event told me that it becomes a kind of natural polymer? the addition of metal salts is meant to make it more durable (although I’ve never really wanted to try it, adding lead to things has never sounded like a good idea) but pure boiled linseed oil should still make a functional waterproof oil-cloth

      • 5

        You are welcome.

        I had just been researching linseed oil for a wood project finish. Polymerization occurs when lineseed oil is heated, I believe 300 degrees.

        For fabric some bushcrafters talk about linseed and beeswax as a waterproof coating. The linseed prevents the bees from reclaiming their wax according to their comments.

        This is a link to treating canvas with beeswax and linseed:


        Fire risk is a big concern with linseed. Note coconut oil and lard on also on the list 🙂


      • 5

        beeswax as well as linseed? cool, I have never heard of that before

        I’m thinking that using the combination might prevent the linseed from having such a strong smell, while at the same time flexibility of the linseed oil might help stop the wax waterproofing from failing on the folds in the fabric

      • 3

        I thought of our Newfoundland fishermen and the sou’wester hats and jackets they used as protection against cold, wet and windy conditions. It was design plus waterproofing. I found out they used sail cloth and tarring to make their gear. They carried a tin of the mixture to keep their garments waterproofed. They went on to use linseed and lampblack which is why the Newfoundlanders gear is black while the American fisherman sou’wester gear is a different color.

        Here’s a couple of links about:


        and a beeswax fabric bar (contains safflower and dammer resin). It looks interesting and they give instructions for application to fabric. As an aside, I like that they source Canadian and American and provide lifetime guarantee on their items. I’m noting this company for future reference.


        also, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and UK use oilcloth. New Zealand is guarded about their method calling it a “a special blend of oils and waxes to make it waterproof and breathable.” They use 100% cotton. I did manage to dig up a bit of info on the general substances they use and the proportions used. It is in the answer area of this link:


        here’s the history on drizabone a New Zealand company. They started with linseed and then changed their formula due to cracking:


        Interesting history on this fabric. It is used in many countries including South Africa. I wonder if they all began with the same technique and the modified it?

      • 3

        Good morning Bob,

        What were you planning to use the oil cloth for?

      • 4


        There are stitches that can fix it. See my post below for links.

      • 5

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        We were just “experimenting” with stuff already here eg the old, 19th century type of oil and “manufactured” here and the new linseed stuff.

        Common sense ?! Appreciate compliment but if I had any, would have waited for the return of the single shot/jab of the Johnson and Johnson brand….and still must go to big town for 2nd shot/jab. No fun !

      • 4

        Good afternoon Bob,

        How about beeswax and linseed?


        Still waiting on my second pfizer. Now they’re saying 4 months for us between shots. No fun for either of us. I say we select the finest imaginary cigars and retire to the library for a game of chess and fine books.

      • 4

        Ubique – I’m currently in the process of applying some wax to one of my canvas jackets in hopes to water proof it. Hopefully I will be able to share my results with the site once I finish it up. 

        So far I have learned that canvas is thirsty ! I’m having to use much more wax than I thought I would have needed.

      • 4


        I found a fabric wax bar made by a Canadian Company. They support Canadian and American companies and provide a lifetime warranty on their products which is very nice.

        Anyway the beeswax bar has safflower and dammer resin in it, so perhaps that makes a difference for how much wax is needed? Perhaps the oil and resin act to thin or stretch the wax out?

        Please keep us posted on the results as it is a very interesting project and relevant for a lot of prepper uses.


      • 5

        I have seen a couple bars as options and then you just apply heat afterwards. Would be interesting to compare different brands of wax and different form factors to see which offers the best bang for your buck.

      • 2

        I’ve used canvas messenger bags for a while, everyone in the city uses them so there’s nothing better to carry an urban EDC while remaining a grey man, but they’re no good if everything keeps getting wet so I keep mine waxed to keep out the rain

        I use a product called gold label wax, you paint it on with a brush and use a hair dryer to make it soak into the fabric, nice and easy, it has a strong smell for the first two to three weeks but the coating seems to last ok

        as far as I can tell it’s almost exactly the same as the wax barbour sell, only it comes in 400g tubs instead of tiny jars

      • 2

        The ability of a knitted fabric to ” stand up” can be changed by the type of yarn structure used. Wool is spun “woolen” which is puffier and has better insulation properties. “Worsted” is firmer and a better type for woods rambler tree climbers. I prefer worsted as I have animals that like to snag things. Animal fibers such as wool will felt when subjected to heat, water and aggiation. ( oh heck……….my spelling brain has gone south). Anyway…this  actually not only makes the scales on the wool fibers lock together but changes the actual structure of the wool…….thus it CANNOT come undone. You can also ” full” woven wool fabric and get te same effect. Llama and alpaca do not have the same scales as sheep wool so do not felt as well. Cashmere and angora…along with a number of the finer wools…..felt if you look at them wrong<smile>. Correct selection of breed and you can knit socks and they will felt from the heat. moisture and aggitation of wearing them. Plant fibers do not felt.


      • 2

        Good afternoon Liebrecht,

        This is great information. Thank you.

        In olden day, had a couple of tropical worsted wool suits and must admit to never paying attention to meaning of “worsted”.

      • 4

        Bob…….LOL. Most folks have not a clue about “worsted” but….did I mention I am a fiber addict? Worsted yarns are the longer fibers and spun “lengthwise” thus making a firmer, tighter yarn that lasts and does not ” fuzz”. A grand thing for men’s suits!


      • 5

        Good evening Liebrecht,

        First, a welcome to the forum. Only by reading Isabel’s nearby post did I realize you’re a new arrival here.

        Don’t believe you mentioned you’re a fabric addict.  Had guessed your passion was either launchable signal flares or fabrics. 

        I’ve got a couple of camel jackets here.  Had been inside a camel hair tent. It was well-insulated. Also here, in a double Hefty bag arrangement, in a clear plastic container, is an asbestos glove.

        Again: Welcome to the forum.

      • 3

        Hello Bob.

        FIBER addict. Fabric is a byproduct. And yep….I spin camel. Baby camel down……oh my. Warm and wonderful! Adult camel hair….not so much. LOL…..my wheels and looms and fiber and sewy stuff……one must be prepared in case all sheep/llamas/pick a fiber animal…….might all go bald and Walmart goes out of business<smile>. One must have the ability to make any type clothing out of any type fiber as needed……..don’t ya know? One might need Fiber Anon when one buys oneself a couple of alpacas for their birthday<smile>. Thanks for the welcome. Other than fiber stuff, I do the same stuff that women have done for forever. I taught 18th C domestic skills also so…questions on those type things….I’m your girl! I’m still figuring out how the order of the posts show up here. 


      • 2

        Good morning Liebrecht,

        Apology; I know the difference between fiber and fabric but I, too often, wrongfully use the terms as synonyms just like “poisonous” snakes and “venonous” snakes.  It depends on the audience and attention to detail.

        If all fiber animals relocate, Walmart closes, … it’s back to buckskin garments, with or without the blessings of Ingred Newkirk of PETA.

        Re  the order of posts; If specific reply, like this one, it will appear next to referenced post. If general reply to thread, it will appear at end of thread. 

    • 3

      Good morning Bob,

      Couldn’t get into the article you posted but from the conversation:

      You are correct. I sold fabric, and worked as an industrial buyer in a garment factory. We made high end ski wear and other garments.

      The type of knit affects the warmth of strength of the knitted garment. Here’s a link:


      There is also a technique called “felting” for knitted garments. This increases warmth by bonding and compressing the animal fibre. I have a pair of felted mittens that have lasted over 35 years of and they are extremely warm. Here’s a link all about felting.


      And just because I am on a knit wear/fabric roll this morning:

      How about some info on Kevlar?


      I’ve been dreaming about all the cool stuff I can sew with this stuff. It wasn’t accessible when I was selling fabric.

      You know the climate I am in – killing cold – I have a parka that doesn’t seem as heavy as others but with my face wrapped in an Ice Wool wide scarf, I can walk for miles. Why? Because the fabric on my park is woven so that it is windproof.

      Women in our mother’s era used a type of specially woven cotton cloth to cover meats and it helped to “keep” them.

      Bob, Thank you for posting this article (wish I could get into it, maybe Gideon can help out).

      You are wise to post this article. It will get some people thinking that a jacket or other garments in their prepping closet may not cut it when TSHTF. 

      Try everything after you buy it in real conditions. Make sure that it actually can do or has the properties advertised on the tags it came with, or the review telling you how great it is.

      Thank you Bob, for your common sense. Those with wisdom understand the importance of it and the incredible lack of it by those who would minimalize it.

      • 4

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        Just read the Wiki Kevlar article. Dupont anticipated a gasoline shortage in 1964 ?!

        Wiki is being nice.In 1964, it was reported that a USN vessel was attacked in the Tonkin Gulf and a war erupted.  By coincidence, Brit PM Douglas-Home resigned and replaced by new PM Harold Wilson. I remember Wilson got “Skybolt” from US.  MUCH was going on and, yes, it did involve gasoline. The story’s still not finished.

        Just this year, there are now new Level 3A ( 3A is for protection against most powerful handguns [in theory?] fire fighter helmets.

        I’ve seen a demo of manufacturing felt.  A horse pulled some contraption over the unfinished product to get it “matted”.  I was wearing Jaegar brand long underwear and was warm while watching the felt procedure. 

        Another big startup in the fabric business is material infused with copper for excellent properties needed by field workers and soldiers, amongst others. 

      • 4

        Good afternoon Bob,

        Next it will be electricity shortage…and so it goes…(apologies to Salinger)

        For firefighter helmets? Wow. That is sad that they need that kind of protection. 

        The felting for my mittens and other wools is just to wash it. It shrinks and you block it out. The fibres compress and become super warm. You can do socks and sweaters like that. If you want I’ll find better instructions for how to if it will help out.

        Yes, I have heard of copper infused fabric and very interested in it. It has antimicrobial properties. This wasn’t the original article I had on it, but it has a list of what it can be used for


    • 6

      While not seen as a ‘manly’ thing to do according to our society, I’ve always been interested in things like knitting or sewing. The art of creating something, especially if it can be useful, seems like it could be a fun hobby. I can see knitting being a relaxing alternative to watching TV at night and could be a mentally therapeutic change to my hectic life. 

      Thank you for sharing this article Bob, you got me even more interested in it now that there is some science behind it. Being able to knit a certain way to make a piece of clothing more durable or waterproof could be a good challenge.

      Any men here ever knit?

      • 3


        Did you know that some of the best tailors are men? There is nothing “unmanly” about it. Needle arts are very relaxing. I believe there are some pretty large football players that do needlework and knitting.

        Plus, it is an important life skill to have, no different than knowing how to properly care for and repair your clothing.

        So, go for it and enjoy!

      • 2

        Good afternoon Mike,

        Glad to learn article proved of value to you.

        It could be worth a trip to a well-stocked “sewing store” / fabric place like JoAnns for purpose to just browse around.  This generates thoughts.

        Checking the cost of some ripstop nylon fabric on a bolt got me to thinking I could make my own tarps …… and save a quantity of $. 

    • 2

      Look up Ventile, developed for RAF aviators in WW2 its a waterproof natural fabric that ended up getting adopted by the UKs special forces.

      • 2

        Hi Bill,

        I looked up Ventile and found an article on it. The information is a bit confusing. Some say it is waterproof and others say no. Apparently the company was bought by Stotz of Switzerland.


      • 4

        Ventile is strange stuff, water beads off it and doesn’t soak in at first so for a short time it is waterproof, although the water does seem to come through it if something is in contact with the back so I guess it would be OK as a tent fly or shelter. I think it works by being woven so smooth and fine that the surface tension of the water doesn’t fit through the fibers

        I’ve had samples of it in the past to play with but it was to expensive and hard to get hold of so I haven’t tried it for clothing, from what I hear it’s waterproofing isn’t perfect but it’s meant to be good to help provide a windproof/breathable layer. Also it doesn’t crinkle like other man-made fabrics so if you did make it into clothing it would be quite stealthy

    • 4

      Bob – Hope you don’t mind me editing the title to expand on what this forum post is about. Great topic!

      • 6

        Good evening Gideon,

        I welcome your edits.

        They are appreciated.

    • 2

      Good morning Bob,

      I found another material that has an interesting history. It is called “Starlite” and was designed to be heat resistant and withstand nuclear conditions. Here’s the link from the BBC:


      • 6

        Good afternoon Ubique,

        I vaguely heard of Starlight. It was mentioned as something good for spacesuits.

        Ref the nuclear blasts, surely aspects of nuclear blasts but can guess the human bod, even in a fallout shelter, will experience other problems from the blast.

        Will glance at the BBC link soon.

    • 3

      Hello. At the risk of being a naughty newbie…this thread got my interest as I am a fiber addict. Musk ox…cashmere..angora are wonderful fibers and all a lot warmer than wool. “Softer” ( finer fiber diameter) than wools also. But the downside is the do not wear as well. I have been a spinner, weaver, knitter for about 30 years and taught also. So……..LOL…I don’t know the exact breeds of sheep that are in the brands you mention but…with over 500 different available breeds, you can tailor the yarn to purpose. One example would be a long wool and a silk blend for socks that wear like iron but are still comfy. And felted knitted fabric is basically everything proof depending on how felted it is. Thanks for letting me join and hoping I did not overstep.


      • 4

        I just joined this site this week too. Hello new friend!

        That is very interesting about how there are so many varieties of wools out there. And how mixing it with something like silk will make it very durable.

        Where do you buy some of these more exotic wools like musk ox? I don’t  think my local Hobby Lobby would have this would they?

      • 2

        Hello Isa! 

        Okay…..I think you mean exotic YARNS as wool would be the unspun stuff. And….ROFL….I suspect you would get some interesting looks at Hobby Lobby<smile>. The only way to get JUST what you want is to learn to spin. Second best way….make friends with an obsessed spinner. Or after this flu stuff passes….be on the lookout for a fiber event. You can buy really cool yarns there. MD Sheep and Wool is epic. West coast also has a thing in WA. You might try looking up events in Spin Off mag website. I have had a lot of the fibers on the hoof in my backyard over the years. Don’t ask about the storage building.  Except musk ox and polar bear. So are you a knitter? Or what?  I confess…….I only knit as the yarn will not just jump up and be socks after I spin it. So knitting is not MY Happy Place. Spinning is. An aside and back to knitting topic….even the fine wools will hold up better depending on how they are spun and how they are knitted. If you want a drool………go look at the Orenburg shawls. The fine ones are cashmere and silk…..the ” everyday ones” are cotton and silk. OH MY. The original ones are hand carded and handspun and knitted with bike spoke knitting needles. I would lose my MIND making something this fine. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with a woman who grew up making them. I learned a LOT from her. Esp…….no no no….as she ripped out my work…..yet again<smile>.


      • 1

        I haven’t done any knitting or spinning but I admire and appreciate the art. 

        While visiting an old pioneer reenactment out east I saw someone spinning by hand and thought it was the neatest thing. I didn’t know that people still did this, so I’ll have to keep an eye out for some events and learn more from other people. 

        Those Orenburg shawls are gorgeous! 

      • 5

        Welcome, liebrecht and Isabel.  I have little experience with fiber and yarn craft, or fabric craft.  My mother is addicted to yarn works and my sister is a quilting maven.  My mother describes my knitting as dangerous to be near as the needles swing wildly.  If I had more interest, I’m sure it would have improved with practice that never happened.  I have developed an appreciation for different fibers as well as the effort and skill necessary to make and use yarns and fabrics.  What would you suggest for lower skilled folks to include in prepping from this area?

      • 4


        Thanks for the welcome. Oh my…..LOL……well……maybe learning to sew would be a start. Crochet is a bit more forgiving than knitting as the stitches stay put instead of falling off the needles. I knit as I have a certain amount of time at swim lessons…..golf lessons…music lessons…and a loom is not portable. Tho I admit I have 2 balls of yarn and 2 sets of needles as that way when “one” sock is finished, both are as I work back and forth on both. Kids each got a wool/silk/angora scarf in “their” colors and that was done while waiting. And waiting. 

        Spinning is actually quite easy. Fiber +twist= yarn. I may be a wee tad obsessed so we will ignore my stashes<smile>. Weaving is MUCH faster than knitting but this comes down to what finished project you want. Next project is putting the boys to work at the loom as I need some dishtowels and that is a no brainer type project. And who really cares if there are mistakes in a dishtowel?  Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book ( don’t remember the name right now ) is great for a beginner knitter.

        One thing to remember is these skills are NOT FUN until you get past beginner. When you put in the work to get past that, THEN they are all fun. Set a timer for 15 mins a day and practice. I learned to spin by doing it every day while kid practiced piano. He put in his hour…I sat with him and did my hour. People quit before they get good enough for it to be FUN. 

        I admit I am obsessed as I can help birth a lamb/rabbit/goat/etc, shear it, dye it with nat’l or chemical dyes, spin it and knit/weave/felt/sew whatever I want. 

        DISCLAIMER: Cleaning house is not my superpower tho. 


      • 2

        Sounds like longer term prepping skills vs temporary evacuation or pressing BOB type of skills – can be a necessity (to make cloth in a complete disaster) or entertainment (for folks like you in less catastrophic scenarios).  I do basic sewing and own a machine which, sadly, I’m finding more and more rare as both standard home equipment and skillset.  

      • 2

        LOL..I guess it comes under the “different strokes” type thing. I like making/doing so this is a Happy Place for me. Going to a mall/just out places in general…………shoot me now! The younger 2 kids ( 12 yo twin boys) are under orders that they WILL get settled and do their schoolwork tomorrow so I can make new PJs for each with NO. NADA. ZIP. bellows of MOMMMMM while I am in the sewing room. If I have to stop for bickering…..they WILL be cleaning baseboards. And I have a lot of them<smile>.