A specially developed synthetic fibre has helped British woollen spinners to produce a new yarn that they say is proving highly popular with the knitwear industry.

The yarn, which has been developed by spinners Willey & Pearson and dyed by Bulmer and Lumb, is a blend of 60 per cent wool and 40 per cent Tencel. Tencel was originally developed by Courtaulds for the cotton industry, but the company has produced a new version specifically for use by woollen spinners.

According to Fred Ellis, export sales manager of the Bulmer and Lumb Group, it has been a worthwhile exercise. "We are seeing a great deal of interest in the Far East and it is escalating rapidly. As well as yarn manufacturers, we are synthetic converters, and from the reaction we have had from customers in the Far East we think it is going to really take off. It will be very popular with the knitwear industry."

The addition of Tencel has helped to soften the naturally coarse fibres in the wool and, says Fred Ellis, it has produced a much more versatile yarn for knitwear manufacturers to work with. It is also possible to spin a finer blended yarn for use in fine gauge knitwear.

"The Tencel has given it a better handle. It is a very soft fibre and the yarn knits very successfully into fabrics. It has a full soft warm touch, silky sheen and sensuous drape. It is a beautiful yarn."

By Clive Hinchliffe.