Join our guest blogger,Ali from Craft Alley,on her adventures (and yes she is adventurous) into Bamboo.
Bamboo is a wonderful thing. It grows like grass,because,well,it is grass. Shoots up at a ridiculous rate of knots,towering over everything around it. Recently,my husband and I went shopping for some bamboo plants to pop in along our back fence to screen out the encroaching neighbourhood development. We learnt then,that the non-invasive bamboo plants can grow at a rate of a foot in height every month.
Good thing for the pandas,that particular statistic –and a good thing for us!
Bamboo fibre is growing in popularity for a number of reasons –one of which is how fast and easy it is to grow the raw materials required. But the rest is all about the resulting fibre itself.
As a spinner,knitter,crocheter,sew-er and general crafty-person,fibre is one of my current and ongoing obsessions. I like the way fibre looks,drapes,shines,dyes –everything fibre does entrances me. And bamboo is certainly not an exception to that rule.
Spinning bamboo fibre is very similar to spinning silk –it’s long,lustrous,almost glowing. It caresses your hands and flows through your fingers almost like water. Mmmmm … Silky water.
Knitting with bamboo-containing yarn is an experience in softness and drape that can be found in only a select few other fibre types.
But sewing with bamboo –this reaches a whole new level. Bamboo fabrics have such a range of applications,all well suited to the particular fabric type. Somewhere in my piled-high sewing room (complete with plastic tubs full of fabric and yarn stashes plus a cupboard filled with home-preserved tomatoes and an enormous printer acquired from freecycle) there is a precious metre of a bamboo/cotton blend lightweight knit fabric just SCREAMING to be tie-dyed in to a slinky,summer dress. Mind you,if I made it for me,the poor public would be screaming if I tried to wear it –my figure doesn’t really work well with slinky dresses!
The range of bamboo fabrics for cloth nappy making are pretty simple,although they come with a number of variations in things like percentages of contributing fabrics. Currently Nappies Covered have in stock three of the most popular and widely used bamboo fabrics for nappy making.
Bamboo Fleece –this is the most widely used absorbent fabric in the nappy making world at present. It has that super-soft,slinky feel that accompanies all bamboo fibre products,and if you hold it the right way you can even see the shimmer in the fleece. This fabric is 85% bamboo,15% organic cotton. It is a single –sided fleece (fluffy on one side,knit on the other) and it weighs in at 450gsm (for the unitiated,that means its kinda heavy and dense and uber squishy)
Bamboo Velour –oooh my,bamboo velour. If you occasionally have throw-backs to the days BEFORE Kath and Kim were cool,and recall your parents dressing you in a funny navy tracksuit that felt just awesome,even though it had red-striped bands around the ankles that felt like they were stopping the blood-flow to your toes,then you are remembering velour. Nothing like this velour though! It’s 90% bamboo,10% polyester (to give it it’s strength) and it is super super soft,drapey,luscious,and if I had the time I would be making the ‘mod’-est leisure-suit you’ve ever imagined…. and possibly tie-dyeing that too!
Bamboo double-sided terry. Can’t say too much about this one. I *think* I’m stealing some of it to go home and turn into a bath towel,because quite frankly,I can’t imagine anything better than wandering around my house after a bath wrapped in an enormous sheet of this stuff. It’s silky and soft and double-sided and LUSCIOUS in the extreme. Oh,and because it’s loopy,you can use it as a nappy outer,with a snappy! (Tie-dyed,of course. Is there a pattern developing here?)
I might be raving just a little here,but bamboo simply IS that good. From a cloth nappy perspective it has all the characteristics you want in an absorbent fibre. It soaks up fluid super-fast. It is naturally anti-bacterial and anti-fungal,and it holds onto to what it soaks up for ages (unlike your standard kitchen sponge,for example).
It is easy to sew and overlock,easy to wash and dry,and makes your cloth nappying easy too,especially as it doesn’t have that crunch factor like some other absorbent fabrics can. It stays soft and fluffy all the way through.
There you have it,my rant about bamboo. If you are in South Australia,next time you are at the zoo watching the pandas have lunch,think about it. (And watch out for the crazy lady in the tie-dyed velour jumpsuit with a drop spindle and a bag of bamboo fibre.)