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  • Merino Wool conductive yarn from Bart and Francis
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    Content by Mika Satomi and Hannah Perner-Wilson
    E-Textile Tailor Shop by KOBAKANT
    The following institutions have funded our research and supported our work:

    Since 2020, Hannah is guest professor of the Spiel&&Objekt Master's program at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch in Berlin

    From 2013-2015 Mika was a guest professor at the eLab at Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weissensee

    From July - December 2013 Hannah was a researcher at the UdK's Design Research Lab

    From 2010-2012 Mika was a guest researcher in the Smart Textiles Design Lab at The Swedish School of Textiles

    From 2009 - 2011 Hannah was a graduate student in the MIT Media Lab's High-Low Tech research group led by Leah Buechley

    In 2009 Hannah and Mika were both research fellows at the Distance Lab

    Between 2003 - 2009 Hannah and Mika were both students at Interface Cultures
    We support the Open Source Hardware movement. All our own designs published on this website are released under the Free Cultural Works definition
    Conductive Materials

    Merino Wool conductive yarn from Bart and Francis

    Recently I have noticed bart and francis has merino wool / inox conductive yarn. (https://www.bart-francis.be/index.php?item=–150-meter_cone&action=article&group_id=128&aid=4531&lang=EN) This sounds really interesting! I have ordered it immediately, and just have got the package. Here is the first try out of the measurement and comparison to the plug and wear conductive yarn.

    specpackage arrived

    The spec of the yarn is “82% TeXaS extra fine merino 17,8Micron + 18% iNoX rostfree steel alloy 316 filament (3 x 2/48 Nm)”. By looking closer, the yarn is made out of 3 strand of 2/48 Nm yarn plied together. Through the magnifier, it looks like each strand is a wool (2/48 Nm) wrapped with thin long strand of iNox (steel fiber).

    One of my interest is the thickness of the yarn as I would like to use it with hand crochet, hand knitting, knitting mills and hand knitting machines. The conductive yarn that was sold by Plug and Wear (later sold by sparkfun and not it is out of production) is 10Nm/3.
    The unit Nm is “No. of 1000 metres (Kilometre) in One Kilogram (from http://www.sriyadithatextile.com/quality/count-conversion)”, so the larger this number is, the finer the yarn is. the number after / is the number of ply. ┬áThe yarn from bart and francis is 48Nm yarn x3, so it makes 16Nm if my calculation is not wrong… When feeling/looking at these two yarns and comparing it, the bart and francis yarn is definitely thinner, a bit thicker than half the thickness… which matches the calculation.
    wool conductive yarnplug and wear yarn

    Now I am testing the electrical property with multimeter. And here is a big difference. The Bart and Francis yarn is made of long thin iNox fiber, so there are not a big difference between relaxed state and stretched state. While the plug and wear yarn is made of short steinless steel fiber mix and it has a significant difference between relaxed and stretched state.

    Bart and Francis Merino wool Inox yarn
    wool conductive yarnwool conductive yarn

    Plug and wear conductive yarn
    plug and wear yarnplug and wear yarn

    I have not tried to knit/crochet with the Bart and Francis yarn to further make the comparison as textile sensors. But I think we will need the yarn made of shorter steel fiber. The nice thing about the Bart and Francis yarn is that it is made of merino wool fiber, and this will allow us to dye them easily at home or with natural dyes. Also, the original yarn is almost white and it will show the color well. I will try to contact Bart and Francis to see if they will be interested in making them with shorter steel fibers (they have mentioned that they can take a group orders to make new yarn as we want)

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