Give Jimmie Grow
almost any piece of fabric produced on a circular knitting machine and he
will not only reel off precise technical specifications, he
could tell you how to reproduce it, down to the stitch.These skills certainly come in handy for Grow, the energetic and amiable Associate Director of Fabric Development at Cotton Incorporated, who, despite his encyclopedic knowledge, is as unpretentious as his given first name (yes, it's Jimmie on his birth certificate).
As the in-house knit fabric "guru," he
is often called upon to troubleshoot and devise improved production techniques that have helped knitting mills all over the world.Grow
is also actively involved with developing new fabrics and working with the latest technologies to further expand the collection of over 4,000 cotton and cotton rich fabric ideas available to anyone in the industry looking for inspiration and know how.
After 28 years in Fabric Development at Cotton Incorporated
, which followed five years of production management at two different knitting mills, one might think Grow
has accumulated enough knitting expertise for several lifetimes.But for all of his
experience with circular knits, Grow
had yet to explore the possibilities of flat knit machinery, most often used in the production of sweaters.After investigating the potential of this technology and the options available, Grow
decided to focus on flat knits and purchased a Stoll 340 TC, Knit to Wear machine: "In terms of research and development, I knew we would have a lot more options in flat than in circular," he
relates.Along with Emmett Hylton, Manager, Knit Fabric Development, Grow traveled to Stoll USA headquarters for two weeks of specialized training on the computerized design system used with this machine.
Soon after, the flatbed equipment arrived at Cotton Incorporated
, and Grow
Fabric Development colleagues are reveling in the new frontiers now open to them.With this, Grow also sees the promise of furthering the mission of Cotton Incorporated
, to increase the consumption and profitability of cotton.First and foremost, the new technology allows the knitter to produce a completed garment directly from the machine, with little or no cutting and sewing."We see this recent advancement, known in the trade as full fashion, as the technology of the future," Grow explains."Any kind of automation that helps cut labor costs is especially important to knitters in the U.S." He
notes that there is circular knitting equipment capable of full fashion production, "but the flatbed technology is several years ahead in this area."
, sharing the benefits of cotton and cotton-rich full fashion production with mills is only one important reason for learning about flatbed knitting.
Don't believe, however, that Grow
is turning his
back on his
beloved circular equipment."We are still running 12 circular knitting machines from six different manufacturers, from 28-gauge single and double knits all the way down 8-cut single knits and 18-cut double knits.These produce about 80 percent of the knit fabric samples we have in our collection," he
says."We also work with the North Carolina State's University lab, where they have fleece, terry and an array of other equipment.Our new flatbed machine makes us fairly complete as a research and development facility, although we are looking forward to getting circular knit full fashion technology."
But in the meantime, "everybody in Fabric Development is quite excited about our first foray into flat knitting.Not only is it a new challenge for us, but the technology has an important place in the world of cotton."And it won't be too long before Grow
will be able to analyze and recreate flat knit apparel as well as he
now does with circular knit fabrics.