Last week, we organized a teachers workshop which had a session on fibers. Teachers worked with a range of fibers to test them for various properties like combustion:

There was also a part of the unit where they looked at fibers under a microscope.

I thought would be nice to try with a Foldscope. So decided to I look at my latest knitting project: a pair of socks for my cousin.

The main yarn is ‘Midnight Heather’ (75% Merino Wool, 25% Nylon). I took a small bit off one of the ends, teased it apart into its fibers and here’s how it looks under the Foldscope:

You can see the natural animal fiber with typical horizontal scale-like units along side the uniform smooth artificial fibers.

Over the weekend, I dug out my (unnecessarily) large stash of yarn….

and selected a *few* to try out. For each, I took a small bit of each of the yarns and teased out the single fibers. I used slides (cut out from old calendars) with cello tape:


Here are some cool yarn pics!

#1: 100% Himalayan Sheep (undyed/unprocessed)

The fiber has neat and clear horizontally arranged units typical to animal fiber. Also, notice the variation in thickness.

#2: 100% acrylic

Synthetic yarn is normally smooth and noodle-like.

#3: 100% Merino Wool

#4: 100% Merino Wool

#5: 75% Wool, 25% Nylon

#6: 80% Wool, 20% Nylon

#7: 100% Jute (unprocessed)

Plant fibers are normally organized into vertical bundles. Also, they are the thickness is variable similar to animal fibers.

#8: 75% Pima Cotton, 25% Acrylic

Notice the twists associated with cotton typical of plant fibers.

#9: 75% Pima Cotton, 25% Acrylic

#10: 60% Pima Cotton, 40% Modal

(Modal is synthetic fiber made from wood pulp)

#11: 70% Baby Alpaca, 30% Bamboo (Unbleached/Undyed)

Here you can see animal and plant fibers side by side.

#12: 50% Alpaca, 30% Merino Wool, 10% Silk, 10% Nylon

(Can you tell which fibers are Alpaca, wool, silk or nylon??)

For more information, and a detailed lesson plan about fibers see: ‘Know your Fibers‘ a Learning Unit of Vigyan Pratibha, an initiative by the Hombi Baba Center for Science Education (HBCSE).



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