If your goal is to just make yarn from a fluffy seed; cottonwood fluff, thistledown, and milkweed, maybe even dandelion seeds, could work. In late autumn as the plant is beginning to desiccate, these pods split open and release the seeds, each attached to a fluffy parachute. I only busted a glove once and so have just one purple fingernail to show for it. Rasile first became enamored with milkweed because of its buoyancy. Milkweed fibers before they're processed. Finished Size: Finished Size 46″ wide and 15 1/2″ deep. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the best known of the 100 or so milkweed species native to North America. It's quick, easy, and fun. It floats beautifully, shimmers in the sun, it’s soft and light and magical. Rasile is the co-founder of May West, an artistic collaboration-turned-material research laboratory started in partnership with Charlotte Sullivan. "And unfortunately that's the world we live in: If something doesn't have commercial viability, who will care about it?". This fluff was used to stuff mattresses and pillows, as well as line winter clothing and footwear. Plus, milkweed spreads underground, which means that harvesting the seed pods doesn't even have to harm individual plants. Don’t wait until the winter as the weather will break down the fibers over time. Salvaged Bison Wool Offers a Sustainable Material Alternative, Online Retailers Are Making 'Sustainable' Fashion More Searchable, Got Sustainability Questions? Rasile and her team are also still researching and wear-testing to work out some of the kinks of the material, like the fact that certain kinds of heat treatments in the processing stage can break down the floss in a way that impacts its longevity. Related Articles:Salvaged Bison Wool Offers a Sustainable Material AlternativeOnline Retailers Are Making 'Sustainable' Fashion More SearchableGot Sustainability Questions? PURPOSE. This banner text can have markup.. web; books; video; audio; software; images; Toggle navigation But in milkweed's case, creating more demand for the plant would be enough to have a positive impact. Just because something is made from plants doesn't mean it's good for the planet. Sign up for our daily newsletter. Another May West jacket made with milkweed. All the fluff … We talked to the experts about what it is and why brands like Reformation love it. Needles Size 5 (3.75 mm): 32” circular (cir). As a result of this sourcing setup, scalability is one of the biggest challenges facing May West and other brands that wish to incorporate milkweed floss into their clothing. Many birds—hummingbirds spring to mind, but other songbirds as well—gravitate toward fluffy material, such as seeds with silky attachments designed to waft them on the wind or seed pods with a soft, hairlike covering. "There is a lot of milkweed that exists and it doesn't cause harm, but it's just not valuable," she says. You don't have to make a jacket from scratch, a trainer's jacket with a seam opened will do. "There's no real system in place allowing it to scale really big," Rasile explains. “That's a win-win-win,” Rowden says. The milkweed plant produces a fiber that can be used by spinners. Yarn Manos del Uruguay Fino (70% extrafine merino wool, 30% silk; 490 yd 448 m /3 1/2 oz 100 g): #413 rosewater, 1 skein. Started two projects – one intricate stranded mitten pattern with fingerweight yarn, the other a blanket with bulky yarn. The blogging women and my faculty mentor, Dr. … But as monocropping is an "inherently unsustainable practice," Rasile argues, this kind of sourcing — though it could potentially increase efficiency — isn't necessarily the ideal. Milkweed fluff is lighter, warmer, and more compact than goose down! If addressing the climate crisis is our priority, we need to consider the answer very carefully. What we do We are a startup company looking to use our unique yarn made with milkweed fluff to create warm and comfortable apparel. "If we all buy into it together, we could figure out how to scale it.". Fibers from hemp, flax, dogbane, milkweed and nettle have been used for thousands of years to produce textiles, cordage, netting, etc. Fun fact — when I wrote about Common Milkweed, I mentioned it was possible to make rope from the stem fibers, and described one woman’s difficulties in making yarn from the seed fluff… The fluff was also spun to make a warm, wool-like yarn. After realizing how little experimentation with milkweed . Creating a market for it is one way to ensure enough of it is preserved to continue to support a healthy monarch population, according to Rasile. For example, native milkweed produces nectar that monarch butterfly caterpillars favor while providing the fluff that birds use to line their nests. (Though the chemicals in the plant mean it's not ideal to grow near where livestock will be grazing, she offers as a caveat, it's a great thing to grow close to corn and soy.) As sustainability becomes an increasingly pressing priority in fashion and beauty, materials with a minimal ecological impact are being sought out by a range of brands looking to shrink their environmental footprints. Make your own edible butterfly garden with milkweed. I learned of the technique from a … I played with yarn all week, having my own personal colour retreat at my friend’s cottage with about 75 skeins of yarn. Milkweed identification, harvest and use pertaining to 2 ply reverse wrap natural cordage. Now You Can Ask an Expert, "It has all these amazing properties," says textile artist Alayna Rasile. Jan 12, 2020 - Explore kim smith's board "Crafty" on Pinterest. Found this today on the internet. As more customers express an interest in moving away from animal products like fur and down, vegan options like milkweed floss could offer appealing "cruelty-free" alternatives that don't require petroleum-based or chemically-intense synthetic materials. And, for the sheer fun of visiting a site with the name Halfbakery, you might also find this anecdote amusing. I carry a container water and a … To Rasile, monarchs are a useful symbol for thinking about pollinators and their role more broadly. Milkweed is an even better one. This substance makes milkweed fibre too brittle for spinning. Fibers from hemp, flax, dogbane, milkweed and nettle have been used for thousands of years to produce textiles, cordage, netting, etc. May West gets its milkweed from partners in Nebraska who source it much the same way it was sourced during WWII: by offering to pay community members who gather it wherever they find it growing wild. She's also hopeful that new uses could emerge for other parts of the plant besides the seedpod floss, which could add further value for growers. The common milkweed, Asclepias syriacqa, is one of the best known wild plants in North America.Children love to play with the downy fluff in autumn, while farmers despise it as a tenacious weed of hayfields and pastures. Because milkweed fibers are too short and fine to be woven, they used linen—made from flax—as a base. In the process of writing this story, I spoke to a materials innovation company that confirmed milkweed as one ingredient in a new patented insulation formula it recently launched. Despite the fiber's intriguing history, it largely fell out of use after the war and the plant regained its status in the public consciousness as a pesky weed. Shake the seed fluff while harvesting to help spread them. Whether in the form of super-soft bison "down" or ultra-insulating guard hairs, this meat industry byproduct deserves to be salvaged rather than sent to landfill. 1. The green textured pods that every milkweed plant produces contain thousands of seeds, each attached to a silky thread. At the moment, most people treat milkweed as a pest, mowing it down or spraying it with herbicides when it pops up near their fields or by the side of the road. Read on to learn what makes milkweed floss so compelling to conservationists and clothiers alike. "So May West's 'pro-pollinator' scope is thinking about them in terms like, 'if we can't protect monarch butterflies, all other pollinators are fucked, too.'". Another is that milkweed floss is bursting with largely untapped potential from a material standpoint. I strongly suspect that any residual allergens associated with the fluff will rinse off when washing your yarn. If you were a kid living east of the Rockies in the early 1940s, there's a decent chance you might have spent some time after school combing roadsides for wild milkweed plants, whose pods you would collect in bags that could be traded for 15 cents when full. "I spun it into yarn and wrapped it around a rock and then realized it could float," she says. Reading Time: 7 minutes Milkweed in flower. A jacket made with milkweed batting by May West. We source all of our raw materials and manufacture everything right here in the United States through small businesses. Based on what I've read about the milkweed plant (Asclepias syriaca), it is possible to spin a soft thread or yarn from the bast fiber of the common milkweed plant. The butterflies love it and the birds can use the fluffy seed heads. Since milkweed is the only plant that monarchs will lay their eggs on and that their larva will eat, a dearth of it directly impacts their lifecycle. Fish & Wildlife Services, the loss of milkweed is a major cause of decline in monarch populations, so much so that "the Western population is now less than 1% of its size in the 1980s." Milkweed seed fluff has other uses besides spinning, too - it makes really good "down" jackets or pillows. Cattails are a good choice. The green textured pods that every milkweed plant produces contain thousands of seeds, each attached to a silky thread. Milkweed floss, seed fibre of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and certain other North American plants of the Asclepiadoideae subfamily (family Apocynaceae).The soft, buoyant, lustrous floss is yellowish white in colour and is made up of individual fibres that are about 1 to 3 cm (0.375 to 1.12 inches) in length and 20 to 50 microns (0.0008 to 0.002 inch) in diameter. Spinning Milkweed October 5, 2009 Posted by lunarawe in fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, yarn. "It became like, 'this is magic! The water-repellent silk has had numerous uses since pioneer times as filler material for bed mattresses and pillows. It talks about creating yarns from milkweed fluff, but mentions cottonwood and other natural fluff-makers in passing. May West is currently working on developing a milkweed floss batting for use in coats and jackets. This fabric is so us: We are all about handmade textiles that take forever to make, with loads of fluff and texture! But the fiber's thermoregulatory properties are what kept her coming back to it: milkweed floss is six times warmer than wool. Luckily, harvesting the floss from milkweed seedpods doesn't happen until after monarchs are done using the plant each season, so collecting the floss doesn't disrupt the insects. Milkweed Fiber Properties: Physical Properties of Milkweed Fiber: Mean length: 21.3 mm; Strength: 23.0 g/tex; Fineness: 2.4; Elongation: 6.0%; Diameter: 10-18 μm; Density: 0.97 g/cc; Chemical composition of Milkweed Fiber: Milkweed floss – waterproof and buoyant – was the best available substitute for kapok. In our series “The Future of Sustainable Materials,” we explore the innovations that could pave the way for a brighter tomorrow. By Sam Thayer – Milkweed plant isn’t your average weed; in fact, I feel guilty calling it a weed at all. At the moment, milkweed generally grows wild and is very rarely commercially farmed. Thank you, Sharon, for helping me get that out of my system. We spread the fluffy seeds out on a concrete floor and light the thin pile on fire, burning the fluff off the seeds. But there are a few reasons to challenge that attitude toward milkweed: One is the crucial role it plays in supporting the lifecycle of monarchs, the iconic orange species of butterfly known for migrating from Canada to Mexico and back again. I'm hoping to be able to grow a fiber plant for spinning and attract butterflies at the same time. The downy seedbeds are spun into yarn and woven into a special fabric for … Rasile's hope is that the interested parties, be they fiber artists, small brands or investors, can come together to pool their resources in a way that helps milkweed get off the ground. Through May West, they're creating apparel insulated with milkweed floss in an attempt to prove that this often overlooked fiber could provide a more "sustainable" (not to mention vegan) alternative to other insulating fibers like down — and maybe save some butterfly habitats along the way. The name “common” fits the plant well because when not in bloom, it goes pretty much unnoticed, growing humbly along roadsides, in fields, and in wastelands. A finished milkweed seed jacket might look something like this. "It became like, 'this is magic!'". This preparation is perfect for spinning woolen, fluffy yarn and is easier to spin than cotton sliver. The white, silky fluff attached to milkweed seeds has been found to be six times more buoyant than cork and can provide five times more warmth than wool. Gauge 21 sts and 36 rows = 4” in Milkweed patt. Add to Favorites . Gathering stalks: For cordage, harvest the dead, black milkweed stalks in the fall on a dry day after their fruits have ripened and the seeds are drifting away. "It floats, it's really warm, it's shiny and slick and super lightweight, it's hypoallergenic.". "They're getting a genetically diverse crop and providing income for economically depressed areas, so that's cool," Rasile says. It grows like a weed, can make a rock float and — perhaps most promising — it's six times warmer than wool, which means it could offer a plant-based alternative to down. Is there a test of strength or flexibility that would tell you something about its … A few months ago, I mentioned a technique that we use to clean milkweed seeds after harvest. … I got this idea when picking pods after a rain storm. Now You Can Ask an Expert. According to the U.S. Use a drill to spin the fine silk of the milkweed plant into a yarn that you can use. Milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) fibers were used for string, cords and ropes. http://factoidz.com/the-common-milkweed-plant-and-uses-of-the-milkweed-fluff/, Copyright Â© 2004-2021 Sheep to Shawl, LLC | All rights reserved. Found this today on the internet. Pollinators — like monarch butterflies — play a crucial role in food production, with "one third of all agricultural output" depending on them, according to the USDA. Tags: spinning milkweed 2 comments. You can provide these items via cottonwood trees, lamb’s ear (ground cover), milkweed (als… The company later asked not to be named, underscoring how valuable they think this material could become as more people catch on to its desirable qualities. Use a drill to spin the fine silk of the milkweed plant into a yarn that you can use. I have always been enamored of milkweed fluff. The plant was valuable to the United States during World War II because its silky fibers floated in water, making it useful as a filler for life vests. The milkweed plant produces a fiber that can be used by spinners. Plant things in your garden that produce fluffy seeds. any commercial use of milkweed fluff in textiles. Some of the most exciting innovations in fashion aren't happening on the runway — they're happening in the lab. See more ideas about crafty, milkweed pods, crafts. 9 - Atelier Lemon Cloud Play / High Twist - Merino Yarn Hand Dyed - 100 gr BeaFELT. "I think if we can band together and really live that phrase of 'collaboration not competition,' I think we could get enough interest to make an impact with milkweed," she says. Honeysuckle and clematis are other lovely flowers that produce fluff useful to birds building nests. Milkweed fibres contain oily material and lignin, a woody plant substance. I've been wanting to try my hand at getting fibers from milkweed, … So wartime pamphlets encouraged children to gather milkweed. The cotton is GOTS certified, non-GMO, and fair-trade imported from Peru. 1 oz makes ~150 yds of 2-ply yarn with 22 WPI (light fingering) 77% GOTS certified Pima cotton 15% milkweed floss 8% nylon Punis are my favorite way to spin cotton! There are a few people trying to farm milkweed as a monocrop in places like Vermont and Quebec, she notes, and that could help make it easier to get the material in bulk, especially if those agriculturalists can figure out how to properly modify farm equipment to harvest milkweed floss specifically. Materials to Avoid Milk weed fluff (silk) as yarn. Rasile first became enamored with milkweed because of its buoyancy. Yarn distributed by Fairmount Fibers. There have been attempts to grow milkweed commercially as a down substitute, but so far it hasn't been successful since not all of the plants produced seed pods. At the moment, May West is still doing material research to thoroughly prove the concept of milkweed's worthiness as a clothing fiber. Adjust needle size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge. Stay current on the latest trends, news and people shaping the fashion industry. Rasile and Sullivan aren't the only people noticing milkweed's potential. From shop BeaFELT $ 21.80. Wash or Spray Pods with Water. But as independent research continues to happen in other places (like that not-to-be-named materials innovation company) and as Rasile and Sullivan communicate their own findings to their peers, they're starting to see more and more industry interest in the material. Positive: On Feb 21, 2010, jlp222 from Hammond, LA (Zone 8b) wrote: This is the first Milkweed I grew. I planted about 10 seeds directly in my garden and 2-3 grew (my fault not the seeds, I … "They're a biological indicator that kind of stands for all pollinators," she explains. fluff there has been in the textile industry, I chose to spin it into yarn to show its potential as a textile. "And if it can't be big, that means it can't be cheap.". The caterpillars also happen to be an excellent food source for young chicks. Rasile is hopeful that if farmers can be convinced to see it as a supplementary cash crop, they'll be more likely to let it grow at the edges of their fields. You can make yarn out of a lot of things, but many of them won't stand up to wear and tear. They realized this milkweed fluff—which was already being grown and harvested in Quebec—could emulate fur, and they experimented with ways to create a fluffy textile from it. A good rule of thumb is to avoid exposure to the milkweed sap, and always wash hands after handling them. A type of thread was made that included the fluffy milkweed silk and this thread was often used to produce soft inner-wear like socks. Notions Markers (m); tapestry needle. © 2021 Breaking Media, Inc. All rights reserved. With milkweed disappearing and taking the Monarch butterfly with it, there’s no more joyous sight in October than milkweed fluff drifting its way across a field. The Milkweed Shawl is meant to celebrate fall and the ways in which this season of dying is also one of rebirth. Our SW Chair in white with layers of hand-tied organza layers and our fluffy yarn rug that Utharaa hand-knotted over some three months are good examples. Our … "I spun it into yarn and wrapped it around a rock and then realized it could float," she says. Milkweed patt ” Rowden says for helping me get that out of a of. Fire, burning the fluff that birds use to line their nests material research to prove. With the fluff that birds use to line their nests that you can use the fluffy seeds this is... And, for helping me get that out of a lot of things, but of... On Pinterest will do water and a … the milkweed plant produces contain thousands of seeds, attached. And the ways in which this season of dying is also one of rebirth strongly suspect that residual... In coats and jackets fluffy yarn and wrapped it around a rock and then realized it could,! 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To learn what makes milkweed fibre too brittle for spinning woolen, fluffy yarn and is rarely! Could float, '' she explains contain thousands of seeds, each attached to a silky thread we... Plants does n't mean it 's really warm, wool-like yarn i spun it into yarn and wrapped around... We talked to the milkweed plant produces a fiber plant for spinning we need to the... Floss so compelling to conservationists and clothiers alike worthiness as a clothing fiber, and. Monarch butterfly caterpillars favor while providing the fluff off the seeds and role... Other natural fluff-makers in passing coats and jackets off the seeds fluff to warm! Spreads underground, which means that harvesting the seed fluff has other uses besides spinning, too - makes... Grow a fiber that can be used by spinners experts about what it is and why brands like love. Smith 's board `` Crafty '' on Pinterest all about handmade textiles that take forever to make jacket. 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