Friday, March 25, 2011
The wool blends sweater challenge & everything blends!
This week's Sweater Sunday theme will be blends!
I often see this on blogs that have recycled wool projects: "you must use 100% wool. If it is not 100% wool, it will not felt". I know that is not true, because I use blends all the time, with great results! I have felted sweaters consistently with blends as low as 60% wools/animal fibers (wool, angora, cashmere), though I only sell blends of 70% & up. I decided to do a challenge, picked up a few low wool content blends randomly, and tried felt them. Here are the contestants:
Contestant #1 - 50% total wool/animal fiber content
Contestant #2 - 46% total wool/animal fiber content
Contestant #3 - 65% total wool/animal fiber content
Contestant #4 - 65% total wool/animal fiber content
Contestant #5 - 50% total wool/animal fiber content
Contestant #6 - 54% total wool/animal fiber content
Ready for the results? These are the sweaters after 2 runs through the washer:
Contestant #1 with 50% animal fiber....
... did not felt. It did get a little smaller, so it may have felted after more washings, but it was a dud for this challenge.
Contestant #2 with 46% animal fiber...
... felted up great!
Contestant #3 with 65% animal fiber...
... did not felt! This one surprised me, since it was the highest animal fiber content out of them all. It did get a little smaller & fuzzier, so it may have felted after a couple more washes, but for this challenge? Dud.
Contestant #4 with 65% animal fiber...
... felted up great!
Contestant #5 with 50% animal fiber content...
Felted great! This was a large mens sweater, and wouldn't fit on my 5 year old now!
Contestant #6 with 54% animal fiber...
... lightly felted. I have a feeling it would have felted up nicely after another wash or 2.
Now as I was throwing these in the wash, this sweater caught my eye in the laundry room. Though it wasn't an official contestant, I let him play...
The tag is hard to read, but this sweater has only 40% animal fiber contest, and felted beautifully!
Now these results were with very low blends, but I just wanted to demonstrate that blends felt. In my shop I only sell blends of 70% or higher animal fiber, so they will predictably felt.
As for functionality, like diaper covers, obviously the higher the animal fiber contest, the better, but you can use high blends. My son has a couple of wool soakers that work great and are 80% lambswool/20% nylon. The only thing to keep in mind with that, it that the other fiber can't be an absorbent fiber, like cotton or silk, or your diaper cover will not work. Stick to synthetics, like nylon & polyester.
One of my favorite blends is 70% lambswool/20% angora/10% nylon. It is a common blend, is super soft (often feels similar to cashmere), and felts soft & drapy, like cashmere does. It is excellent for clothing and diaper covers.
Why should you buy blends, when there are 100% wools available, you ask? Blends tend to come in fun colors & prints more often than the 100% wools do, and if you are looking for specific colors or patterns, sometimes only blends are available in those colors/patterns. I have had many of my customers go from "I only buy 100% wools" to "bring on the blends!" once they've tried them.
Sorry this post got so long! Any questions?