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Why rayon is a great choice for cool comfort in warm weather
by Jackie E-S

Rayon has such sheen, drape-ability, and dyes to such vivid colors, it is no wonder it receives lots of oooh's and aaah's, both in the skein and when made into a completed project. Sometimes called "poor man's silk", rayon is a man-made fiber. It is not considered a synthetic, because it is made from a natural product – i.e. regenerated cellulose derived from cotton linters and wood chips.

The fiber is produced as a continuous filament, then made into yarns with single filaments (monofilament), a group of filaments (multifilament), or cut in short staple lengths and spun. Fabric made from spun rayon is similar to wool or cotton, whereas fabric produced from continuous filaments is smoother, more lustrous and stronger. Cut staples can also be blended with other fibers. Rayon has less strength than most other fibers, and has low abrasion resistance. Therefore it is not a good choice for articles subject to a lot of wear, e.g. socks.

Have you wondered as I have about the relationship of rayon and viscose? Different types of rayon are created by different processes. According to "Yarn - A Resource Guide for Handweavers" (Interweave Press, ISBN #0-934926-17-3, copyright 1985), these are: viscose, cuppramonium, high wet-modulus and saponified. The types share a majority of the same qualities, varying mainly in elasticity and tendency toward shrinkage.

All types of rayon dry clean well. I get many questions about whether rayon can be washed. To be sure, test a sample before committing to a project that you want to be able to wash rather than dry clean. High-quality yarns generally can by hand-washed gently, as rayon loses strength when wet.

Rayon is a good conductor of heat, so it is a cool, comfortable fiber good for use in warm weather. Being that Southern Louisiana where I live is warm almost year-around, no wonder I love it!

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Email address: jackie@heartstringsfiberarts.com
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Last revised Tuesday, 05-Mar-2013 21:39:48 CST