Fibre Characteristics Deep Dive: Synthetics

20 December 2023

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While natural fibres are preferred by many fibre artists, we can’t ignore the importance of synthetic fibres in our crafting. Synthetic fibres bring their own unique characteristics to the projects we make, whether they are standing alone or blended with natural fibres, giving a little sparkle to our yarn, drape to our cloth, and strength and washability to our sewn or knitted garments.

Synthetic textile fibres can be divided into two major categories: regenerated cellulose fibres and petroleum-based fibres. Each of the more common fibres has its own set of characteristics based on the chemicals and processes used to create them, but they are all regarded as extruded fibres. In most cases, one synthetic textile “recipe” can produce a huge variety of fibres by simply changing the diameter of the spinneret they are extruded through or the staple lengths of the fibres. Because of the broad range of processes and resulting fibres involved, I am only going to talk about these fibres in the broadest terms.

All photos by Michelle Boyd.

Copyright © Michelle Boyd except as indicated.

About Michelle Boyd

Michelle Boyd is a Master Spinner, weaver, and writer who lives in Olds, Alberta, located in Treaty 7 Territory, the ancestral lands of the peoples of the Blackfoot Confederacy. Michelle learned to spin in 1995 when her local yarn shop closed, and she became obsessed with the art and science of making yarn. She has taught workshops across North America and instructed for the Olds College Master Spinner Program for fifteen years. She is also a frequent contributor to both PLY Magazine and Digits & Threads and is currently completing her first book about spinning.

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