Netting is a type of fabric created by knotting together wire, thread or rope. It is a mesh fabric that has a variety of uses from sports jerseys and bridal gowns to chicken coops and fences. The fabric is extremely versatile because it can be made from almost any material in a plethora of styles. Netting is usually transparent and varies in thickness and stiffness.
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One of the most important qualities of netting is transparency. Types of netting vary in transparency depending on the material used and the tightness of the knotting. For example, chicken wire is transparent because of its very wide knots. Bug netting is also transparent despite the tight knot structure. This is because the thread used in bug netting is very fine. Other types of netting, such as the mesh on sports jerseys, is not entirely transparent, but it does have tiny holes to allow the fabric to breathe and dry quickly.
All types of netting have a pattern of knots. Some patterns are visible and intentional as a part of the fabric design. Other mesh fabrics have an invisible pattern of knots that make up the fabric itself. Some of the knotting patterns to construct netting are elaborate in design. Others are simple squares or hexagons.
All the tiny holes between the knots in netting make the fabric extremely breathable. Mesh netting is used for sports jerseys because it does not keep in heat and dries quickly. Other types of netting are used on animal cages because it does not block the entry of air or light.
Netting is flexible because the pattern of knots mold to whatever shape the designer wants. Softer meshes, such as netting on butterfly nets, is soft and flexible to protect the delicate butterfly's wings. On the other hand, chicken wire is bendable to the shape of the coop but maintains it shape and strength once in place. Netting is also used on dresses and petticoats to add volume because of its potential stiffness. The amount of flexibility in the netting depends on the material and the size of the knots.
Many types of netting are stretchy. One example is fish net stockings. The knots allow the fabric a wide range of stretch in every direction.