What are "Wale" - Definition & Explanation

In the realm of textiles, a wale refers to a series of raised parallel ridges or ribs on a fabric's surface, most commonly found in knitted or woven fabrics. The term "wale" is derived from the Old English word "wl," meaning ridge or streak. Wale can refer to both the individual ridges themselves and the number of ridges per inch or centimeter.

The presence of wales in a fabric is determined by the construction technique employed during manufacturing. In knitting, wales are formed by a series of loops or stitches that interlock vertically to create a raised pattern. In woven fabrics, wales are formed by the interlacement of the warp (lengthwise) and weft (crosswise) yarns. The number of wales per inch or centimeter is referred to as the "wale count" or "wale density," which varies depending on the fabric's intended purpose and desired appearance.

Wales play a crucial role in the aesthetic, texture, and performance of fabrics. They can create decorative patterns, add texture and dimension, enhance stretch and recovery, and influence the overall drape and hand-feel of the fabric. Fabrics with a higher wale count generally have a smoother and more refined appearance, while those with fewer wales may have a more pronounced ribbed texture.

Various textile manufacturers and users utilize wales in their products. Rib-knit fabrics, characterized by distinct raised vertical ribs, are commonly used in the production of garments such as t-shirts, sweaters, socks, and cuffs. Jersey fabrics, on the other hand, have a smoother appearance with no visible wales and are widely used for lightweight garments like t-shirts and dresses. Corduroy is another example of a fabric that prominently displays wales, featuring raised ribs formed by cut-pile yarns.

The fashion industry, including apparel brands and designers, extensively uses fabrics with wales to create unique and visually appealing garments. Luxury brands like Gucci, Prada, and Chanel often incorporate rib-knit fabrics into their collections to add texture and style to their garments. Sportswear and activewear brands like Nike and Adidas also utilize wale patterns in their knitted fabrics to enhance stretch and provide a comfortable fit during physical activities.

Additionally, upholstery manufacturers utilize fabrics with wales to create visually interesting and durable furniture coverings. Woven fabrics with distinct wale patterns are commonly used for upholstery purposes to lend texture, depth, and resilience to sofas, chairs, and other furniture pieces. The wale count and style can be tailored to suit different design aesthetics, from classic to contemporary.

In conclusion, wales are an essential aspect of textile manufacturing, contributing to the appearance, texture, and functionality of various fabrics. Whether used in garments, upholstery, or other textile applications, wales offer designers and manufacturers a means to create visually striking and versatile products. The top users and manufacturers of wale fabrics span across the fashion, sportswear, and upholstery industries, where creativity and quality are paramount.
In knit fabrics, a column of loops lying lengthwise in the fabric. The number of wales per inch is a measure of the fabric's fineness. In woven fabrics, one of a series of ribs or cords, running either warp wise or filling wise.
In woven fabric, one series of ribs, cords, or raised portions. In corduroy fabric, wales per inch are counted to distinguish broad- from fine-textured cloth. The higher the wale number, the finer the texture of the fabric.
In a knitted fabric, the series of loops that are formed by a single needle, which runs vertically or lengthwise in a knitted fabric.
In a woven fabric, like corduroy or Bedford cord, the wale is the rib or raised cord that runs lengthwise with the warp.
A column of loops along the length of a knitted fabric.

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