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Textile
A textile is a flexible material comprised of a network of natural or artificial fibers often referred to as thread or yarn. Yarn is produced by spinning raw wool fibers, linen, cotton, or other material on a spinning wheel to produce long strands known as yarn.Textiles are formed by weaving, knitting, crocheting, knotting, or pressing fibers together.

Sources and Types

Textiles can be made from many materials. These materials come from four main sources: animal, plant, mineral, and synthetic. In the past, all textiles were made from natural fibres, including plant, animal, and mineral sources. In the 20th century, these were supplemented by artificial fibres made from petroleum.

Textiles are made in various strengths and degrees of durability, from the finest gossamer to the sturdiest canvas. The relative thickness of fibres in cloth is measured in deniers. Microfiber refers to fibers made of strands thinner than one denier.

Animal Textiles

  • Animal textiles are commonly made from hair or fur.
  • Wool refers to the hair of the domestic goat or sheep, which is distinguished from other types of animal hair in that the individual strands are coated with scales and tightly crimped, and the wool as a whole is coated with an oil known as lanolin, which is waterproof and dirtproof. Woollen refers to a bulkier yarn produced from carded, non-parallel fibre, while worsted refers to a finer yarn which is spun from longer fibres which have been combed to be parallel. Wool is commonly used for warm clothing. Cashmere, the hair of the Indian cashmere goat, and mohair, the hair of the North African angora goat, are types of wool known for their softness.
  • Other animal textiles which are made from hair or fur are alpaca wool, vicuña wool, llama wool, and camel hair, generally used in the production of coats, jackets, ponchos, blankets, and other warm coverings. Angora refers to the long, thick, soft hair of the angora rabbit.
  • Wadmal is a coarse cloth made of wool, produced in Scandinavia, mostly 1000~1500CE.
  • Silk is an animal textile made from the fibers of the cocoon of the Chinese silkworm. This is spun into a smooth, shiny fabric prized for its sleek texture.

Plant Textiles

  • Grass, rush, hemp, and sisal are all used in making rope. In the first two, the entire plant is used for this purpose, while in the last two, only fibres from the plant are utilized. Coir (coconut fiber) is used in making twine, and also in floormats, doormats, brushes, mattresses, floor tiles, and sacking.
  • Straw and bamboo are both used to make hats. Straw, a dried form of grass, is also used for stuffing, as is kapok.
  • Fibres from pulpwood trees, cotton, rice, hemp, and nettle are used in making paper.
  • Cotton, flax, jute, hemp and modal are all used in clothing. Piña (pineapple fiber) and ramie are also fibres used in clothing, generally with a blend of other fabrics such as cotton.
  • Acetate is used to increase the shininess of certain fabrics such as silks, velvets, and taffetas.
  • Seaweed is used in the production of textiles. A water-soluble fiber known as alginate is produced and is used as a holding fiber; when the cloth is finished, the alginate is dissolved, leaving an open area.

Mineral Textiles

  • Asbestos and basalt fiber are used for vinyl tiles, sheeting, and adhesives, "transite" panels and siding, acoustical ceilings, stage curtains, and fire blankets.
  • Glass fibre is used in the production of spacesuits, ironing board and mattress covers, ropes and cables, reinforcement fiber for composite materials, insect netting, flame-retardant and protective fabric, soundproof, fireproof, and insulating fibers.
  • Metal fibre, metal foil, and metal wire have a variety of uses, including the production of cloth-of-gold and jewelry. Hardware cloth is a coarse weave of steel wire, used in construction.

Synthetic Textiles

  • All synthetic textiles are used primarily in the production of clothing.
  • Polyester fiber is used in all types of clothing, either alone or blended with fibres such as cotton.
  • Aramid fiber (e.g. Twaron) is used for flame-retardant clothing, cut-protection, and armor.
  • Acrylic is a fibre used to imitate wools, including cashmere, and is often used in replacement of them.
  • Nylon is a fibre used to imitate silk; it is used in the production of pantyhose. Thicker nylon fibers are used in rope and outdoor clothing.
  • Spandex (trade name Lycra) is a polyurethane fibre that stretches easily and can be made tight-fitting without impeding movement. It is used to make activewear, bras, and swimsuits.
  • Olefin fiber is a fiber used in activewear, linings, and warm clothing. Olefins are hydrophobic, allowing them to dry quickly. A sintered felt of olefin fibers is sold under the trade name Tyvek.
  • Ingeo is a polylactide fiber blended with other fibres such as cotton and used in clothing. It is more hydrophilic than most other synthetics, allowing it to wick away perspiration.
  • Lurex is a metallic fiber used in clothing embellishment.

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