Thursday, October 23, 2014

Weaving with weird stuff

I love the idea that almost anything is weavable on a pin loom. Here are two of my most recent experiments.
We're coming up on the holidays and I have been looking at the multitude of spun and woven fibers intended for scarves with the intention of making some pretty little bags for the holidays. I think they would be great as part of a gift or as the basis for a holiday purse.

I found this particular fiber in a "Please get this out of our store" bin. It is flat and ribbon-like with a generous amount of gold colored fiber woven through.

Here are the specifics:
Red Heart Boutique Sashay Metallic
Fiber Content:     66% Acrylic, 23% Polyester, 11% Metallic
Skein Weight:     3.5 oz (100 g)
Yardage:     30 yd (27 m)

So the question becomes, can you weave with it on a pin loom?  The sample you see to the left was woven with two layers of the gold fiber and two layers of a wool sock weight yarn. I found that it was best to roll the fiber against my leg just before laying each 4" piece between the pins in order to turn it into a rounder package. I don't think it makes any difference to the outcome, but that made it easier to wind on.

I always wind on the difficult fiber first and weave through with something easy to handle.  As you can see this produces a wider shiny stripe of gold and with a smaller stripe of white. I think that it would be possible, but not easy, to wind on three layers of gold and then just weave through with the lighter wool yarn.  I think it would be possible to wind and weave all four layers in the gold fiber but the effort, for me, would not be worth the tremendous amount of difficulty.

Second strange fiber-

As I may previously mentioned, I am fond of shopping at thrift shops because the items are so interesting.  They represent a cross section of American passions over the past thirty or forty years.

I don't know that I can call this particular item a passion, perhaps more an infatuation, a reflection of an earlier age that introduced the slogan "Better Living Through Chemistry". 

From that earlier time I found one skein of a very weird yarn.

This is Phentex, a knitting yarn made of 100% polypropylene. It is reported to be:
stain resistant
machine washable and dryable
will not stretch or shrink
keeps the shape you knit in
non-fading fast colors
long wearing and

It looks as though it is made from exactly the same stuff as pantyhose. I did a search online and found another person who had discovered a skein of this stuff, but it was white rather than brown. A newer version of this yarn is listed as "slipper and craft yarn" which makes sense because it is very hard to the touch and might work well for knitted slipper soles.

Comments in Ravelry notes the hard, scratchy feel of anything that is made out of this yarn, noting that it is extreeeemly durable, seemingly impervious to wear. There are 40 year old slippers still out there that were made from it. Of course, that may have as much to do with the fact that the slippers were so uncomfortable that they never had a chance to wear out.

There is no twist to it, so it splits very easily-- not quite such a problem for me as for a knitter, but still difficult to work with. The greater difficulty for me was that the yarn was a little too thick to comfortable weave on my 4" pin loom. I finally wove two squares on a Weave-it 5" rug loom which I crocheted together to make what appears to be an impermeable pot scrubber-- which is shown above.

Have you run into some strange fiber that has offered an unexpected gift? What unknown or underestimated fiber is out there, just waiting to share its gifts?  Please share your experience. 

My intention, metaphorically, is to spin flax into gold, to show each fiber in its best light.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if it's "weird," but I came across Buttercream Soft Knit Multi 100% polyester yarn at Jo-Anns. It looks like it's knitted instead of woven plies and it works very well on a pin loom. The color I have is Clematis, a tonal yarn that runs from white to lilac. On the 4-inch loom the yarn makes a bitmap pattern, on a 2-inch loom it almost looks like a houndstooth pattern. The only downside is that there are few colors of this yarn available. So far I've used it to make lavender sachets. I just make two squares and stitch them on three sides, fill with lavender, and stitch the remaining edge shut.


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