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Friday, May 06, 2005

Kitty: MS&W, Silk Saga, & Fire and Yarn

So where will you find me on Johannes Brahms (Date of Birth: 7 May 1833) birthday????? Well Sheep & Wool of course.

Though really I should be practicing the piano I fear, somehow I don't think he was a knitter or would approve. I guess I will just have to wind my Teddy Bear up and listen to Brahms Lullaby before I go for my homage to Brahms today.

That's right assuming that the server doesn't crash in next three hours (thought it just crashed 15 minutes ago), the database files don't become corrupt, and I am leaving for Maryland. <Happy dance>

Now getting to go to MS&W is awesome, but the coolest thing has to be I get to meet my Secrete Pal, Mia. She really spoiled me during SP4 and we became friends. I thank her dearly for all the kindness and thoughtfullness she showed me. We are going to meet for coffee in the morning. I am so insanely excited to get to meet her. She also passed her practical last night. Her three months of hard work with her Fire class paid off.. CONGRATS MIA!!!!!! I am really happy for you.

Since MeowGirl brought up her worries about the silk industry I was doing some more research. It looks like there is some good news on the silk front. Japan is doing research on Flash Freezing the cocoons. The silk is then removed and the moth is released back into the egg hut area. Allowing for a natural renewal. There also seem to be some strict regulation on the treating of silkworms. Even in Cambodia whose animal rights issues are usually not so kind to the animals. So there is some hope. The overriding issues are that to free the moth, the silk has to be cut in some way. So you don't get the 4,000yard single piece of fiber the industry dictates. The Japanese researchers are finding that the renewal process does save money, but is this enough to offset the break in the fiber. The cocoon has to be boiled or baked to loosen the glue that holds the fibers together.

Something really interesting, silk worms are blind and have incredible hearing. Workers work barefoot in the worm area so as to not make any news and the area is kept as quiet as possible. Sharp noise causes the worms to stop feeding and produce half of their body weight in waste products that is toxic. After thunderstorms there is a rush to carefully clean the area so as to save the worms lives.

The choice to continue to buy silk is clearly not clear-cut for me I fear. The over whelming desire to drape oneself in the most luxurious fiber of the kings or to worry about the deaths of the moths that didn't see the day. Another interesting fact about the moths is they are actually blind and have been bread since the Han Dynasty to be chubby so they don't fly. HEHE early on I warned MeowGirl to not look to closely about how silk fibers were actually acquired if she ever wanted to wear silk again.

Some Cool Silk Info:

Self-Assembly of Genetically Engineered Spider Silk Fiber in Insect Cells (Anyone for some Spider Silk Yarn?)
The History of Man-Made Fiber Development
From the Mulberry Tree to Silk Fiber
Silk Ukiyoe Gallery - Wonderful old wood block prints of Silk Production
Silk Laboratory

On to a more pleasant topic. I was reading Blue Blogs most recent posting about her giant white bread sweater. She was wondering if there was a test to find out whether the yarn was man-made or plant based? WOHO, My mother will be so happy. I get to use my college education, all those Textile Chemistry and Organic Chemistry class and put it to good use.

Well the easiest way to find out what the fiber identification of an unknown fiber is to do a burn test.

Please, Please burn in a metal bucket and have plenty of water when you try this. I use to do this in a lab, in a white suit, with sprinklers, and chemical hoods. I have watched fibers torch and produce incredible flames in just seconds. So I just dug up my cheat sheet notes from fiber lab. There are essentially 39 tests to run on the fiber to find its true identity, but this is the quickest and easiest.

WARNING: Please Be Careful :) Have water around in case you start a large fire and have the phone near to call 911 just in case.

Burning Test plant and man made


Cotton: Steady Flame, smells like burning leaves, ash crumbles, will blow out like a candle
Linen: Take a long time to ignite, ash is brittle, will blow out like a candle
Silk: Burn but not easily and no steady flame, smells like hair, ash crumble, can not be blown out easily
Wool: Steady flame, difficult to burn, smells like hair

Man Made Fibers

Acetate: burns easily, flickering flame, not easy to be blow out, burning cellulose drips and leaves hard ash, smells like burning wood chips
Acrylic: Acrylonitrile made of gas and petroleum, Burn fast and lofty fibers have air pockets that burn instantly, Ash is hard, smells acrid
Nylon: Polyamide made from petroleum, Doesn't burn but melts rapidly, it there is a flame it is floating on the melted fibers, smells like burning plastic
Polyester: petroleum product, coal, air, and water, melts and burns at the same time, melted ash bonds with the surface of the item it was held by, smoke is black and sweet smelling, hard to blow out
Rayon: Cellulose, burns fast and leaves only a little bit of ash, smells like burning leaves

1 comment:

  1. Kitty

    That was such fun to read. I love a well-researched answer! SOunds pretty easy to duplicate....my firefighter husband will so enjoy this information. He never ceased to be amused by what I find from fellow knitters.......thanks thanks thanks!

    irisheyesknitters Kathy