One of the first synthetic fibers produced in the United States, rayon, may be one of my favorite synthetics! If you have spun anything blended with bamboo fiber, you’ve spun a rayon.
Rayons (by their current definition) were first produced in 1894 by Charles Frederic Cross, Edward John Bevan and Clayton Beadle. They named their product viscose and marketed as artificial silk. In 1910, it was brought to the United States, where the term “rayon” caught on.
Rayons bridge the space between natural and synthetic fibers. Rayons are made by forcing regenerated cellulose through a mechanical spinneret, which forms the cellulose into fibers. Usually made with wood pulp, rayon can be made with any cellulose matter, including rose, aloe, or mint (which we happen to carry here!)
Bamboo has fallen under some controversy in the last decade. In 2010, a number of companies received a hand slap from the U.S. Federal trade commission for labeling their products as bamboo, making them seem more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Companies were ordered to label their products as “rayon” or “rayon from bamboo.” In the fiber world full of indie artists and small businesses, you will often still find it listed as bamboo.
Rayons are a popular blending fiber for hand-spinners, often used as an alternative to silk, sometimes for price point, sometimes for its specific properties. Because they are slick and shorter-stapled than silk, they are not often spun alone. However, most rayons, when spun by themselves, will make a yarn with great luster and drape.
Geoffrey Owen (9 September 2010). The Rise and Fall of Great Companies: Courtaulds and the Reshaping of the Man-Made Fibres Industry. OUP/Pasold Research Fund.
Lipka, M. (2016, July 15). Bamboo-zled: FTC says retailers fibbed about bamboo product claims. Retrieved September 12, 2018, from https://www.aol.com/2010/02/03/bamboo-zled-ftc-says-retailers-fibbed-about-bamboo-product-clai/