Sock Testing Hosiery Consortium

Minutes of the Hosiery Standards and Testing Committee – October 16, 2001

A meeting of the Hosiery Standards and Testing Committee was held at The Hosiery Technology Center in Hickory, NC on October 16, 2001. The list of attendees is attached.

Fit Committee

Fit Committee – Fit Committee Chairman Regina Speed opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and reading over the mission statement for the group. Dan St. Louis gave and update of where the group has been from the start of the project in March of 1998. Click here for update presentation. To summarize, through much work and effort by the group there are four devices approved to test cross stretch statistically and procedures are in place. We now know how to test the socks, but we do not know what amount of cross stretch or length stretch would make the sock fit comfortably. Dan stated that this next step would require much work and that we do not need to go forward unless everyone is supporting the project fully. Everyone must have buy in, particularly manufacturers, suppliers and retailers if we are to go forward.

Tami Rollins from the Wal-Mart testing labs then reviewed some of the confusion that is in the retail environment. Consumers are tearing open bags to get at the socks to see if they fit. Sometimes it goes so far as consumers trying on the socks in the store after they tear open the packages. The shoe size does not match the sock size. At our last fit subcommittee meeting, we had a shoe company supplier in attendance. We learned from him that the shoe industry does not have any standards when it comes to making shoe sizes. Each shoe manufacturer has their own sizes for their company. This makes it impossible to match sock size and shoe size under the current conditions. The bottom line is that there is much confusion when it comes to fit standards on socks.

Don Thompson of the Textile Protection and Comfort Center (T-PACC) at NCSU then presented a proposal on how we could attack this problem. Click here for Don Thompson's presentation.

The project will be in two phases. Phase 1 will be a short version of the project involving 1 style of sock to test. This will help to set the protocols for a larger study of many sizes and styles of socks. Phase 1 will be performed at the Hosiery Technology Center in Hickory with the help of the T-PACC lab. Thirty-two faculty or students at the school will be recruited that have a 10-13 shoe size using a Brannock gauge to measure their foot. This will be our test population. Socks will be produced at the HTC that will be knit in three different tightness ranges from too tight to too loose. The socks will be tested for cross stretch and length stretch on the appropriate machines and the results recorded. The socks will then be distributed to the test population. The test population will then fill out an initial survey as to how the sock feels after 10 minutes. They then wear test the sock all-day and return at the end of the day to say how they felt over a whole day of use. The results will be analyzed statistically to determine the best cross stretch and length stretch for that size range. This technique has been used many times at the T-PACC center to give statistically sound surveys on a number of different projects.

The group then brainstormed the type and exact style of sock to produce. We decided to produce a sock with the following characteristics:

  • White Athletic Crew – Size 10-13
  • 108 needle produced on a 4” cylinder
  • Sock Top – 2 ends of 12/1 cotton with spandex yarn in every course. The top will be turn welt with a 1x1 inside welt with 3x1 mock rib on the outside.
  • Foot – This will be ½ cushion with 14/1 cotton plaited with 1/150/68 polyester. It will be normal terry and have a reciprocated heel.

We wanted to pick a simple profile that represented a large segment of the sock market.

Phase two will be much more extensive involving many more styles and yarn types. Phase two will also include foot-scanning technology to measure the test population. It will require some sort of grant to fund the project. This Phase two study will be important as we go forward as new yarns can really affect the sock layout. Tony Whitener showed two samples of socks that made this point clear. One sample was much smaller than the other in layout and looked like it would not fit the intended 9-11 foot size. We then ran both socks on the approved DSC stretch device. The smaller one had a length stretch of 19.5 inches verses a 12.5 inch length stretch of the larger sock. We then put them on the appropriate NAHM size forms. The smaller one would actually fit a size range from 9 female to 17 male NAHM form! The difference was the amount of spandex that was knit into the smaller looking sample and the knit construction of the samples. The consumer would never have bought the smaller sock even though it had better stretch characteristics. We need some way to rate socks so the consumer will have confidence of the final fit properties.

Roy Johnson then presented a timeline for the Phase 1 project. Click here to view the Timeline. All agreed that putting a timeline helps keep the group on track to completion.

Roy and Dan discussed funding possibilities. Dan and Paul Fogleman visited with the US Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) last week to discuss possible funding with the project. Jim Bennett with OTEXA suggested a possible tie in with the Textile Clothing and Technology Center (TC2). They currently have foot-scanning technology at their facility in Cary, NC and have been working with a group in the United Kingdom to look at overall body sizes in the UK. A partnership with TC2 could possibly help reduce the cost of the project and a joint grant could be proposed to OTEXA. A meeting with TC2 is scheduled for October 17 at TC2. Roy, Don, Paul, Dan, Mary Ann Hettich and Rachel Willis volunteered to attend the meeting. We then discussed the commitment to the project after hearing the proposals for Phase 1 and 2. It was stressed that this is not a HTC or NCSU project but that it was an entire industry project. All agreed after much discussion to go forward with Phase 1 to see the results, to pursue possible funding of Phase 2 and decide on Phase 2 after seeing results of the initial study. We decided to call the next meeting of the entire committee as needed after some of the initial work is done. However there will be some fit subcommittee meetings in between.

Abrasion Committee

  Art Caldwell and Lisa Sain presented the latest results of the fourth round of tests in the Design of Experiments (DOE) process. The DOE consisted of testing the effect of cleaning cycle and the bottom pad of the abrasion machine on the consistency of abrasion results. The results show that using Trizact with a 400 cycle cleaning on a Martindale Abrasion Machine was the best so far as compared to 200 cycle cleaning. The synthetic skin trials have not been run due to the cost of the material ($800 per piece).


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