Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Marvelous Mittens Mystery or Fabulous Faux Finally Fails

Has anyone besides me noticed how well modern chemistry is duplicating natural materials now?

I have a couple of faux fur coats that people think are real when I wear them  I have red pleather short shorts that … never mind.  Just kidding.

My recent faux vs. real experience I will call the Marvelous Mittens Mystery.

I acquired a pair of vintage fur and leather marvelous mittens lined with fleece.  They were in great condition.  There was no brand label, just a very worn size label.

A couple of months later I decided to list them in my TangoPony shop and began the listing.  The title was 'Fur, Leather and Fleece-Lined Mittens.'

I photographed the marvelous mittens, edited the fifteen shots down to five, resized them and uploaded them to my in-progress Etsy listing.

As I began to write the description, it occurred to me that the lining might not be real fleece from a sheep.  It felt woolly, but something wasn't quite right.

I discovered the fleece was on a woven background.  Thinking it still could at least be wool, I pulled a few fuzzies off and took them to the Fire Test Laboratory … one of my dad's old glass ashtrays from the 1940's and a box of Rosebud stick matches.

The fleece flunked the Fire Test.

Of course that made me wonder about the leather.  It really looked real.  It felt real.  Even after an examination under magnification I wasn't sure.  I saw what could have been pore marks. 

This time I took the Marvelous Mitten to the Smell Lab along with a couple pairs of kid gloves and an old leather backpack.

The 'leather' on the mittens flunked the Smell Test.

Of course I had to subject the fur to testing and went back to the Fire Laboratory already described in the fleece episode.

And of course the fur flunked the Fire Test.

Now the mitten listing reads, "Wookiee Paws, Mittens, Faux Fur, Faux Leather, Faux Fleece". 

So what are these tests?

♣ The Fire Test for Fibers:  When lit, natural fibers smell like burned hair or paper and turn to ash. Silk threads will actually glow like the filament in a light bulb.  Synthetic fibers smell like chemicals and will melt and disappear when lit.

♣ The Smell Test for Leather:  Leather will always smell like leather.  Synthetic pleathers or vinyls never will. 

And that, boys and girls, is the Science Lesson for today.

Since I am not familiar with the test for wookieeness, I'll go out on a limb and say the mittens are definitely Genuine Wookiee. 


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Are Fair Isle Sweaters Knit by Ponies?

Fair Isle sweaters are named after a tiny island in the north of Scotland. The island is part of the Shetland Islands, famous for little fat, hairy ponies like this pair.
I don't know if they knitted their own sweaters or not, but they are fine examples of Fair Isle knitting. 
Fair isle knitting is a traditional technique used to create patterns with multiple colors. It became popular in the 1920's when the Prince of Wales (later to become Edward VIII) wore Fair Isle tank tops in public. 
Traditional Fair Isle patterns use only five colors and have only two colors per row. Unused colors of the alternating colors are "stranded" across the back of the piece.

'Fair Isle' has become a generic term for a style and is no longer limited only to sweaters knit on Fair Isle.

Sometimes people like me come along, chop up a vintage wool Fair Isle sweeater and use power tools to make a purse.

I call my washer, dryer and sewing machine power tools.  Doesn't everyone?