May 2004

How to choose fiber
Part V - Man-made Fibers

Last month we finished talking about natural fibers. This month we conclude this series with man-made fibers.

Unlike natural fibers that are spun from organic filaments, most man-made fibers are made from filaments produced synthetically from liquid then formed into different fibers. They are dyed while in liquid form, therefore it is almost impossible to change their color afterwards.

Soy Silk is a wonderful, environmentally friendly, fiber. It is man-made, however unlike most other man-made fibers that are synthetic, and mostly originated from petroleum and other chemicals, Soy Silk has natural origin. It is made of leftover and waste of Tofu manufacturing. Same as other man-made fibers, soy protein is first turned into liquid, then into fiber. This product feels and act a lot like natural silk. It absorbs moisture and provides warmth. You can find soy silk blended with natural fibers like wool, which adds to its memory, yet does not destroy its silky softness. If you are allergic to soy protein, be careful about using this product. Make sure you are not allergic to it, before buying large amount of soy silk yarn.

Acrylic is a man-made fiber that feels a lot like wool. It is light weight, non-allergenic, draws moisture away from the body and dries quickly. It is machine washable, thus easy to use for children's garments. Acrylic cannot take heat and loses its body if ironed at high heat.

Nylon is stronger than Acrylic. It is elastic, non-absorbent and dries quickly. Nylon does not lose its shape by washing, so it can be machine washed and dried. It does not take heat and melts. Dirt does not cling to Nylon, so it is a good candidate for blending with natural fibers to enhance their characteristics. You can find a lot of Nylon blend yarn, especially in sock yarn category.

Polyester is a strong fiber. It is wrinkle resistant thus keeps its shape, but melts in medium to high temperatures. Blending Polyester with cotton gives cotton a wrinkle resistant quality and improves its wear.

Rayon comes from cellulose and is absorbent like cotton. Its soft, smooth hand resembles silk. A garment made of Rayon has a beautiful drape. Rayon wrinkles easily and does not melt with heat, but burns. A newer version of Rayon (Viscose Rayon) is wrinkleless and can be washed.

I hope the information provided in recent issues have been helpful to you, especially when choosing yarn for different projects.

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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