Saturday, January 7, 2017

Alpaca Christmas Gift

Alpaca Scarf

As a Christmas gift my husband gave me a beautiful alpaca scarf woven in Bolivia.

 According to the hang tag. Bolivia Fair Trade “ brings hand made products to the North American consumer market from artisan groups, cooperatives and small businesses in Bolivia.  We promote Fair Trade with our purchasing practices, and we have a commitment to improve the living conditions for the people of Bolivia”.
For more information contact

Alpacas are South American camelids and were first domesticated more than six thousand years ago in the Andes mountains of Peru.  BY the 1500’s there were large herds of Alpaca throughout South America, but these herds were decimated by the Spanish conquest of  the Incan Empire of Peru.
Alpacas are bred for their fiber.  Their exquisite, supple fiber is heavier when compared to wool and most fibers are white, range of browns, black and spotted..

Bolivia Fair Trade states the” Alpaca fiber is 5 times warmer then sheep wool, stronger than mohair, more luxurious than cashmere and smother than silk.  The fiber is elastic, hypoallergenic…because it does not contain lanolin.  The smooth cell structure, with its microscopic air pockets contributes to the creation of lightweight apparel with higher insulation value and thermal capacity than almost any other animal fiber”.

Cute, aren't they?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hello 2017 !!

Greetings for a New Year

Time to get ready to welcome a other new year.  Whatever great and wonderful things you accomplished in 2016, try for even great successes in 2017.  That is my only resolution, to do better.  I think that covers it all.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

My Holiday Wish

                                        However you celebrate the holiday season I wish you peace.

Saturday, December 10, 2016


B is for BURLAP

Continuing with my alphabetical listing of textile terms (see my blog “ARALAC”, 11/12/16) today is the letter B.

I have already written several “B’s”  :Batik
                                                           Burton (Virginia Lee)

There are many other "B" textile references: buckram, brodade, Berlin work, but our subject is BURLAP.

Also called Hessian, Burlap is a coarse, rough, heavy plain-weave fabric made from jute or hemp fiber..The fabric was first imported from India in the 19th C. The term Hessian refers to the coarse, heavy uniforms worn by the Hessian troops of Hesse (Germany)

  Because it is known for its durability and strength, poor grades of the fabric are used for sacking and upholstery backing, however it frays easily and has poor washability.

Better grades are bleached and/or dyed and are used in the craft industry.  For years burlap has been used as the ground fabric for rug hooking.  With special finishing treatments burlap can become a smooth, attractive finishing fabric.

This burlap has been patterned for rug hooking.  Commercial kits are available with pre-printed designs.  Originally, of course, rug hookers created and drew their own patterns on the ground fabric (perhaps from used sacking).

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Giving

Christmas giving

Each year, around this time. I get requests for textile-related gift suggestions.  I usually suggest visits to thrift or antique shops for vintage table linens, hankies, hand crochet doilies, etc.

This year I thought of another idea.  Why not visit your neighborhood bookstore (used books or new).  There are many magazines and books for every textile enthusiast .  Whether your gift is for a quilter, knitter, weaver, fashion follower or collector a subscription to  a related magazine is possible.  You might try giving just one copy to see if they really love it and then complete the subscription.

  For others, there are reference books and coffee-table flashy editions in a huge range of topics.  The advantage of shopping locally is the book can be returned if it is not suitable and  a gift certificate can be issued.  There are also fiction and mystery books with textile themes .

Do not overlook the selection of “gently used” books.  Often, out of print books are not only affordable but valuable references.  My last suggestion is a textile dictionary, encyclopedia or sourcebook.  

If your recipient lives in a city near a textile or art museum with a large textile collection, how about a museum membership?  Or a membership to my favorite organization, The Textile Society of America.  There are textile guilds  in most cities: Embroidery guild, Weaving and Spinning guild, Quilting guild and membership fees are generally quite reasonable.

Thoughtful gifts such as these will bring year-long enjoyment.

Happy shopping!!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving Day

“I am grateful for what I am and have,
My thanksgiving is perpetual”

                               Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, November 12, 2016


A is for…ARALAC

I decided to do an occasional series of textile themes in alphabetical order.  Taking inspiration from one of my favorite mystery writers, Sue Grafton, who uses the alphabet to title her books ( “A is for Alibi” etc.)

I have already written several “As”:   Armor
                                                            Aloha shirts

There are many textile As: acrylic, acetate, alpaca, angora and others.  But, ARALAC?

The story of this textile fiber is innovative and imaginative.   Remember the alchemists who tried to combine various compounds to produce gold, well, chemists throughout history have tried to manipulate certain elements to produce new innovations.

Textile fibers, wool and silk, have always been considered high end (and expensive) .  For many years there was a search for  fibers that could be created from common  ingredients, much in the way rayon and acetate were created from cellulose that was chemically manipulated.  This became especially important during the years between World Wars I and II.  Cloth produced from natural fibers was in great demand.  Cotton for bedding and military uniforms, silk for parachutes, wool for uniforms…..all were in  short supply.  Therefore the requirement for new fibers became paramount.

Work was being conducted on a class of fibers termed Azion.  Fibers in this class are made from regenerated proteins such as milk, soybeans, peanuts and corn. According to archives at the National Museum of American History, credit is given to H. Irving Crane  and a group of chemists working at the Atlantic Research Associates, Inc. which specialized in the development of products from the milk protein, casein ( ARA was a division of National Dairy Products Corp. which was later to be absorbed by Kraft Foods).

The casein required for Aralac was formed by adding acid to milk to form the curd (casein) which was collected from small and large creameries.  One hundred pounds of milk was required to produce 3.7 pounds of casein, which would produce 3.7 pounds of fiber. From the casein, crystals were formed by evaporation and then ground and dissolved into a solution.
The solution was processed by forcing it through spinnerets and hardened in a chemical bath. During World War II Aralac was blended with rayon and acetate for use in civilian dress fabric and,, interestingly, felted hats.  Other uses were tested (carpeting, knitting yarn, lace) but it was not deemed satisfactory due to its poor strength and difficulty in dyeing. Purchasers of the clothing products had a unique complaint:  when wet, the fabric smelled like cheese!!!   Production was halted in 1948.

As we all know, the search for alternative synthetic fibers and methods of their production  continued and endless possibilities seem inevitable.