Monday, October 25, 2010

Searching for Snow White ...Fiber that is!

This time of year I start to get requests for fiber in holiday colors. Every shade of red and green become in demand and of course there is the need for snow white. It's not unusual for someone to ask, "What is the whitest fiber you have?"

I was thinking about this as I was dyeing a custom order for a Christmas sampler. I thought it might make a fun blog post. So if you are searching for snow white, this one's for you!

I've taken a variety of ecru or dye free fibers from my studio. Laying them in a row is a helpful way to compare their colors. This is far from every fiber on the market, but it can tell us a few things.

If you scan the names of the fibers, you can see that there are animal or protein fibers at the top. Then we move down into plant or cellulose fibers and finally synthetic or nylon.

Let's take a closer look back at the animal fibers. In general, dye free protein fibers tend to be more ecru than pure white. The exception to this is the Angora. It is a nice snowy white. When I looked through my wools, I determined that the Falkland was probably the whitest of my 100% wool fibers. I also included a Merino wool/Angora blend. This is an 80/20 blend and by mixing the wool with the Angora, we do lighten up the shade. A 50/50 blend would be even better. Oh, and I don't want to leave out the Tussah Silk. It seems to fall somewhere between the Angora and the Sheep wools when it comes to whiteness.

Moving on to the soy silk and the cotton. Soy silk is naturally more of a honey color, but a bleached version is readily available and usually referred to as white soy silk. The thing about bleaching fiber though, it can come out with a yellowish tinge. That is definitely the case with soy silk. We are searching for snow white not yellow snow! Organic cotton on the other hand, is a beautiful, very light ecru. It's not perfectly white, but it is perfectly lovely!

The last three in my collection represent the synthetic and nylon group. Corn fiber does come from corn, but it's the result of cutting-edge bioengineering and is technically classified as a synthetic. It is a lovely shade of white and a nice, eco friendly choice. Below the corn fiber are the whitest of the whites. One is sparkly and the other has a matte finish. Firestar is a great way to add sparkle to any project and will needle felt right along with your wool. It's a spectacular choice for embellishing holiday projects. Snow Mountain lives up to its snowy name. It's as white as white can be and an affordable choice for crafting.

So when you are doing your holiday craft shopping and you need snow white, I hope my little guide will help you decide which fiber is right for your project!

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