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. The milkweed plant produces a fiber that can be used by spinners. 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. Make your own edible butterfly garden with milkweed. Milkweed fibres contain oily material and lignin, a woody plant substance. All the fluff … In late autumn as the plant is beginning to desiccate, these pods split open and release the seeds, each attached to a fluffy parachute. © 2021 Breaking Media, Inc. All rights reserved. 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. "And if it can't be big, that means it can't be cheap.". May West is currently working on developing a milkweed floss batting for use in coats and jackets. "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. 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. 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 few months ago, I mentioned a technique that we use to clean milkweed seeds after harvest. This fabric is so us: We are all about handmade textiles that take forever to make, with loads of fluff and texture! Rasile first became enamored with milkweed because of its buoyancy. 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. 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. Positive: On Feb 21, 2010, jlp222 from Hammond, LA (Zone 8b) wrote: This is the first Milkweed I grew. The fluff was also spun to make a warm, wool-like yarn. 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. Don’t wait until the winter as the weather will break down the fibers over time. This substance makes milkweed fibre too brittle for spinning. "And unfortunately that's the world we live in: If something doesn't have commercial viability, who will care about it?". 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. "I spun it into yarn and wrapped it around a rock and then realized it could float," she says. Notions Markers (m); tapestry needle. And, for the sheer fun of visiting a site with the name Halfbakery, you might also find this anecdote amusing. At the moment, May West is still doing material research to thoroughly prove the concept of milkweed's worthiness as a clothing fiber. Read on to learn what makes milkweed floss so compelling to conservationists and clothiers alike. any commercial use of milkweed fluff in textiles. This preparation is perfect for spinning woolen, fluffy yarn and is easier to spin than cotton sliver. 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. "They're a biological indicator that kind of stands for all pollinators," she explains. Stay current on the latest trends, news and people shaping the fashion industry. Our … Is there a test of strength or flexibility that would tell you something about its … The water-repellent silk has had numerous uses since pioneer times as filler material for bed mattresses and pillows. 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. PURPOSE. Add to Favorites . 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. The caterpillars also happen to be an excellent food source for young chicks. Use a drill to spin the fine silk of the milkweed plant into a yarn that you can use. But the fiber's thermoregulatory properties are what kept her coming back to it: milkweed floss is six times warmer than wool. 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. “That's a win-win-win,” Rowden says. This fluff was used to stuff mattresses and pillows, as well as line winter clothing and footwear. I've been wanting to try my hand at getting fibers from milkweed, … http://factoidz.com/the-common-milkweed-plant-and-uses-of-the-milkweed-fluff/, Copyright © 2004-2021 Sheep to Shawl, LLC | All rights reserved. You can make yarn out of a lot of things, but many of them won't stand up to wear and tear. Sign up for our daily newsletter. We spread the fluffy seeds out on a concrete floor and light the thin pile on fire, burning the fluff off the seeds. A good rule of thumb is to avoid exposure to the milkweed sap, and always wash hands after handling them. 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.