Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fantasy Socks Become Reality, News at Eleven

Picture me lying limply in a puddle of yarn...the weekend was extremely busy. However, as with other social events, I did a lot of knitting while chatting and listening to music (not to mention the screams of people who believed me when I said the pool was 'fine once you got in'). The socks:
Fantasy Socks
plain toe-up socks, Lana Gross Fantasy

And yes, these also match. Really, it's not my fault...just as I started thinking that it was about time for ribbing on the first one, I noticed that I was only a few stripes away from the start of the pattern repeat. So it was a cinch to end the first sock there, and start the second at the same point in the pattern. And after I'd firmly resolved I wasn't going to be persnickety about getting an exact match this time, too.

And then, I looked around at my half-dozen WIPs and said, 'gosh, I should finish a few things before I cast on something else'. Next thing I knew, there was another pair of socks on the dpns. Apparently I have the willpower of a jellyfish. (There were extenuating circumstances having to do with needing another portable project, or at least that's the story I'm going with.) The new yarn is Tofutsies' wool/soysilk/cotton/chitin blend, which I thought would make good summer socks. Although I'm going to wonder (at least until I have a chance to look it up) just how they get fiber out of shrimp and crab shells (that's the chitin).

Edit: Okay, with some help from Wikipedia, I have an answer: chitin fiber is produced by deacetylation. No, really, it makes sense, if I'm interpreting the chemistry right. (It should be noted here that chemistry has never been one of my strong points, however.) Chitin is a natural polymer commonly found in nature- second most common after cellulose (plant fiber). A polymer is a group of molecules that join up in repeating chains- natural biopolymers include things like DNA and proteins.

In its natural form, chitin is translucent, pliable, resilient and tough. The acetyl group (a clump of atoms arranged in a particular configuration) occurs regularly along the length of the molecule chains, and enables more bonds to be formed between adjacent molecules. So the acetyl group seems to be what turns it from a bunch of long microfibers to a thick solid mass. Deacetylation removes the acetyl groups, which breaks the bonds between adjacent molecules- like removing the snarls to comb out long hair. Chemically, the resulting fiber is similar to rayon.

So- they get the fiber by chemically treating the shells. Which is pretty much what I guessed, but I still find it cooler to know more detail. It's a geek thing.

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