I’ve shared this picture before, but I feel like it’s time again. So, time to talk all about this again.
This is what a variety of fibers look like underneath a microscope. And this is why each of the different kinds of fiber behave in the ways that they do. And it’s incredibly important for anyone in any aspect of the fiber arts to understand it.
The microscopic structure of the individual fibers never goes away (save for superwash), regardless of the finished format of the fiber. Think of it this way. A seamstress needs to know the best usage and properties of any given fabric they’re working with. Fabric is made of fiber, just like what we’re working with. Understanding what each fiber can and can’t do helps tremendously to increase the quality of what we all do.
You can see that all of the animal fibers look like scales stacked on top of each other. Those scales are the trick to how animal fibers act like they do. When not felted, they link up and un-link randomly, creating both breathablity and an insulating layer of air. You can also see that there’s a huge difference in wool types. Yes, not all wool is created alike. Coarse wool, usually saved for rugs, is much thicker, and therefore much more durable. A pencil is much easier to break than a tree branch, right? Fine wool is the pencil.
In felting, those scales link up into a much more permanent fashion. This is again, entirely due to the microscopic structure of the fiber. It’s why, with most techniques, felting is only done with animal fiber.
Plant fibers, as you can see, have a little bit of roughness to their surface, but lack the scales. Again, this is the secret to how they behave. That roughness creates breathing in the fabric. However, since they lack the scales, it can’t trap in air for an insulating layer like animal fibers.
And the last, polyester. While yes, there is some variety to synthetic fibers, I want to stress that all synthetic fibers are extruded from a tube. So, the majority of them look pretty darn similar to the one above. As it’s a completely smooth surface, it just sits smack up against the next fiber. It doesn’t create breathable fiber or allow in an insulating layer of air.
And it gets even more complicated. Each individual fiber type, down to the specific breed or species of plant, behaves a little bit differently. Some wools suck up dye like a man dying of thirst in a desert. Some just sip it. Some fibers have a natural luster. Some lack that shine. And it’s all because of the natural, inherent properties of the fiber.
Blending fibers doesn’t change the fundamental characteristics of the fiber types. It just means you have a blend where part of it acts one way and part of it acts another way. I know spinners who’ve been working with fiber for thirty years who didn’t get that point. And yes, I taught them.
All of these characteristics need to be taken into consideration whenever you’re choosing a fiber type to work with, regardless of whether you’re weaving, knitting, crocheting, spinning, or felting. Because they really, really matter.
✧$25 for each pouch:✧
- the layout will look like the above photo; - - edging is optional and can be changed.
- Various colors are available.
- Pouches are made to order so you have the freedom to tell me what you are looking for!
- you will pay shipping charges. Specifics later. (Approx $3-5)
- Three cartridge pouches that stretch - I have 7 games plus an SD card adapter in the pictured pouch.
- It takes 2-3 days to complete a pouch, so please consider that when ordering.
- I will happily make adjustments to the design, but this may alter the price if it uses more materials.
I will purchase more yarn shortly so I can provide examples of choices. Payments will be taken via my paypal for now, through my reopened etsy shop (InCraftyStitches) later.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Inbox me @wambyofwillow or @cattywampuswamby .