Industry rumour mills have been running at warp speed (no puns intended) since we published an article on Nike’s Flyknit integrally knitted running shoe upper in February on our Knitting Industry website - see Nike Flyknit – a seamlessly knitted running shoe!.
Now having taken a closer look at the knitted upper, we can reveal that Flyknit is without any doubt made on an electronically controlled flat knitting machine.
Some have speculated that Flyknit is produced on circular knitting technology and although a version of Flyknit could be produced on a circular knitting machine, a substantial amount of post knit cutting would be required leaving ‘raw edges’ on the fabric. Flyknit has closed selvedges all around the upper.
In addition, the Insertion of the support/lacing cables on the shoe side would not be possible as the machine would need to have a reciprocating movement to allow the laying in of the cables from side to side.
Others have speculated about warp knitting or double needle bar raschel technology being involved but again post knit cutting would be required. Raschel and warp knitting machines have continuous warps and ‘seamless’ items still need to be cut from the machine. Weft insertion is possible on some machines but Flyknit would require a hybrid machine which also has jacquard needle selection.
Only flat knitting technology can give the result achieved in the Flyknit uppers shown so far. A modern flat knitting machine has the ability to produce closed selvedges all around the upper whilst imparting complex shape and laying in the support/lacing cables. Having said that, this is a very complex piece of knitting which will have taken a lot of developing.
Author: Billy Hunter