Follow the winner of the WPC 2020 Woolmark internship program, Bettina Blomstedt of Finland, on her three-month journey to develop innovative performance wool samples.
One of three winners of the 2020 Woolmark Performance Challenge, Bettina Blomstedt of Aalto University in Finland, undertook her three-month internship with four of The Woolmark Company’s network partners. Alongside gaining invaluable technical knowledge and deepening her understanding of wool, Bettina had the unique opportunity to develop innovative new wool samples in collaboration with The Woolmark Company’s longstanding supply chain partners.
As one of 352 applicants and one of three internship awardees, Bettina’s WPC entry explored possible compositions of wool and other natural fibres with sustainability in mind, asking: how can the inherent properties of Merino wool be utilised in sportswear, without adding any synthetic materials to the mix?
Bettina’s Internship Journey
Bettina’s research culminated in a three-month internship journey with placements at several supply chain companies that have longstanding relationships with The Woolmark Company. In learning more about the wool supply chain in order to enhance her developing Woolmark Performance Challenge project, Bettina explored how knitted wool fabric can be strengthened by incorporating linen yarns while still retaining the benefits of wool.
Last November, Bettina made her first stop at the well-established yarn and fabric manufacturer Tollegno 1900 in Biella, Italy under the guidance of Birgit Gahlen, The Woolmark Company’s Research and Development Manager for Europe.
“During my two weeks at Tollegno, while I worked on the yarn choice and colour palette for my project, I learnt a lot about the spinning, dyeing and finishing of Merino wool yarns”, Bettina shares.
The following two weeks were spent with knitting machine manufacturer, Shima Seiki, where Bettina learned to program machines to create knit samples using the yarns that she had acquired from Tollegno. Additionally, she completed a ‘flat knit design’ course using software to create knitted patterns and structures.
Her internship then took Bettina to D-house urban lab in Milan, where she completed a side project exploring how embroidery can enhance the performance of textiles, particularly where embroidery can give fabric a robust three-dimensional shape.
Bettina researched the three-dimensional embroidery effect by stretching wool fabrics onto the frame of machines to embroider them. She explored the many variables that impact the three-dimensional effect and stability, including the direction of the fabric, amount of stretch, and width of the embroidery. D-house by Dyloan gave Bettina the opportunity to incorporate digital embroidery Coloreel technology into the design and manufacturing of her samples. This digital embroidery technology allows instant colouring of a single recycled polyester thread, opening up new embroidery possibilities that are both innovative and sustainable. The resulting samples were incorporated in The Woolmark Company’s ‘The Wool Lab’ sourcing guide.
The final weeks of the internship saw Bettina journey to BYBORRE digital design platform Create™ and development Knit Lab in Amsterdam and continue to explore the possibilities of blending wool and linen for knitwear.
“A selection of structure samples I created were sent for abrasion resistance and burst strength tests to determine the best knitwear structures. An important part of the experimentation was to do some washing tests; this was to be able to predict the felting of wool and how it affects the various knitted structures,” Bettina added.
The results of her internship project have now been presented to The Woolmark Company and the supply chain partners that she visited. Bettina’s innovative sample work will be showcased in the next edition of The Wool Lab - a great opportunity granted by this internship. Following her rewarding internship experience through the Woolmark Performance Challenge, Bettina is now working as a footwear knit designer for Nike in Portland, Oregon in the USA.