Colour Sails

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


It is widely acknowledged that textile processing is increasingly unsustainable, for example textile dyeing is experiencing a rising use of water, leading to a scarcity of freshwater globally (Easton, 2009, p145). It is imperative to investigate alternative strategies to colouration and whilst there is no single resolution to the problem, using design intelligence from diverse design specialisms, in this instance knitted fabric design, can offer a realistic framework within which to develop solutions.
Following established design methodologies, successful knit design requires knowledge of materials, process, technology and aesthetics which is utilised in unique combinations to create a specified product. Disrupting this approach to design through the application of innovative technologies or removing the concept of designing for a specified product, this unique body of knowledge can question wider societal problems, including textile coloration, and determine a range of solutions through knitted fabric design practice.
The paper will report on the development of sustainable textile coloration through innovative lighting technologies. New research explores the breadth of colour gamut achievable with a limited palette of yarn (so minimising dyeing) when recognised optical effects, for example optical mixing, are observed in different lighting conditions. The iterative design/research methodology used exploits the materiality and structural knowledge inherent in knitted fabrics and allows the creation of unique fabrics, which would be unachievable in any other medium, to test ideas abductively. A feature of this methodology is an acceptance of unexpected outcomes that challenge the concept of designing for a specified product. The fabrics produced are not in themselves functional, except as a communication tool for the knowledge revealed through the design research.
Easton, J. R. (2009), Key sustainability issues in textile dyeing. In: Blackburn, R. S. ed. (2009), Sustainable Textiles: Life cycle and environmental impact. Cambridge: Woodhead Publishing Limited pp.139-152.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFuturescan 4: Valuing Practice - Abstracts & Biographies
Place of PublicationOnline
PublisherAssociation of Fashion and Textiles Courses
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2019


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