I’ve been reading a series on Crochet Spot called Focus on Fiber (I prefer the British “fibre” spelling) and I thought it would be a good time to talk about the different textiles available to today’s needleworkers.
One of the most widely used yarns is acrylic. Inexpensive, sold in bright and varied colours and available in almost every store, acrylic yarn is warm, nice to work with and washes easily. It resists moths, oils, chemicals and deterioration from exposure to sunlight.
The downside? It’s made from petroleum and probably isn’t great for the environment. Acrylic pills easily (the formation of small, fuzzy balls), which can be minimized if you hand wash your garment and dry flat.
The term “wool” refers to fibres obtained from goats, muskoxen, rabbits, llamas, alpacas and sheep, but in this case we’re talking about sheep. The Merino is the oldest established breed of sheep in the world and can be found in South America, Australia, North America and Africa. Wool is separated into grades based on its diametre in microns. Ultrafine Merino is less than 15.5 microns, carpet wool is 35-45 microns. Any wool finer than 25 microns can be used for garments.
Merino wool is naturally antibacterial, absorbent, breathable and wicks moisture away. It can be blended with other fibres and is one of the softest types of wool available. I’m one of the people sensitive to coarse wool so I appreciate the finer Merino.
The downside? Merino wool is expensive and will felt (get matted together) if washed in warm water and/or dryer-dried. And let’s not forget about moths. Superwash Merino is very soft and washing-machine safe, perfect for baby items.
After researching silk, I’ve decided I’m kind of grossed out about it. The main source of silk fibre is the silkworm’s cocoon. The cocoon is made of one continuous and smooth thread. If the pupa inside the cocoon is not allowed to escape during harvesting, it dies inside; sometimes the harvesters kill the pupa to make it easier to gather a continuous filament.
Typically, the filament is woven into fabric but crocheters use spun silk. It takes about 5,000 silkworms to make a kimono (yikes). More recently, people have started reclaiming silk from saris, beautiful and brightly coloured garments worn by Indian women.
The downside? Apart from being costly, silk has a tendency to snag and becomes weakened with sunlight. It is not a springy yarn – if elongated even a small amount, it remains stretched.
This category includes bamboo, corn, soy and cotton. They are great for people with sensitivities and are made from sustainable resources. Inherently soft and durable yarns, they have good moisture wicking properties.
Bamboo as a plant can slow deforestation, provide an alternative source of timber and prevent soil erosion; it doesn’t need pesticides or fertilizers and uses half the amount of water than other trees. Products made from bamboo biodegrade in soil, so don’t plant your afghan.
The downside? Again, they’re costly. But nothing will give you that spa-feel like a body scrubber made from all-natural bamboo. Convinced yet?
THE SQUARES – WEEK 19
It was another week of wool and this time I actually impressed myself with the resulting patterns. Yes, it made for a lot of ends to sew in but it was well worth the time. Squares three and seven are my favourite.
Square six is dedicated to my mom for Mother’s Day. My mom’s a quilter so I chose a circa 1800 block called Eight-Point Star (also called LeMoyne Star, Puritan Star or Lemon Star). I chose it for Mother’s Day because my mom and I have been through eight life stages: baby, toddler, preschooler, kid, teenager, young adult, adult and becoming a mom. Moms and daughters have their ups and downs but eventually (and hopefully) they come together in the end, all the more strong for life’s roller coaster ride.
Hope all the moms out there had a great Mother’s Day!
Square Count: 133