Darn it! and HURRAY! There are great wick materials that are easy to find and don't require a lot of work to prep. I wish I had found these yarns earlier. In today's (brief) session with excellent conditions that compared favorably to some of my favorite materials. This is only one session, but the results were good enough that I think that others should try these out.
I have had to take a break from the color profile studies that I have been doing since the sky was cloudless and bright -- which makes it impossible to get meaningful video. So, I decide to quickly test out a couple of yarns that I purchased at Michael's, a popular chain of craft stores in the U.S.
Wayne had mentioned having good luck with a pre-braided knitting yarn. I purchased the only yarn that I could find that matched his description. I also picked up some 100% acrylic "craft yarn" since Dr. Sin on SBF, the Soap Bubble Fanciers Yahoo Group had mentioned liking "art yarn". I asked for art yarn and the people at Michael's had no idea what I was talking about. So, I purchased something labeled as "craft yarn". It is very thin yarn, maybe 2-3mm diameter -- about the same diameter as the cotton twine that I use.
I made a 48" top-string from the braided yarn by cutting it to length and tying a split ring on either end. I made a 96" bottom string from the acrylic yarn.
I did not have much in the way of expectations. I was shocked by the results. The conditions were nice despite being sunny. Very mild to no breeze. 80-85% humidity and an air temp of about 61F.
I made several 40 foot or longer tubes and closed several 30-35 foot tubes.
I will definitely be making some larger loop parts out of these materials to see how they do making super giants.I did a minor pre-treatment after tying on the split rings and before using them -- since yarn often has sizing in it that harms bubbles. I boiled a bowl of water in the microwave. I added a teaspoon of borax when I took the bowl from the microwave and put in the wicks. I soaked them for 15 minutes, rinsed them, then soaked them in water and Dawn for a few minutes before rinsing them thoroughly. NOTE: later that day, I made a loop with no pre-treatment other than soaking in hot water that had some Dawn in it, and it worked great. The borax treatment is not needed.
Since the lighting was not what I am used to -- and the mix was a bit of a mongrel (20:1 Dawn Guar with some odds-and-ends of other Dawn/Guar mixes thrown in) -- it was hard to fully analyze the flow from the wand. One thing was clear was that once the film started to be 'stretched' there was a fair amount of available juice as the tubes grew a considerable amount after the colors switched to the 'stretched' profile. You will notice in the pictures that the back end of the tube has a noticeably different color set. This is the stretched profile.
I am looking forward to more trials.
FOLLOW-UP (2014 Sept. 15) I have now used the acryclic/wool blend yarn in several sessions. It is an excellent material that is especially nice as it does not require the labor-intensive prep that mop yarn and many other common wicks require. While the yarn is very light (much lighter than the RubberMaid Webfoot Microfiber mop yarn), it absorbs more juice than the mop yarn -- and is a bit drippy. For my taste (I don't like heavy/drippy wicks), it is well-suited to use as a top-string but is too heavy/drippy to be used on the bottom. Uniform loops made from it will make lots of large bubbles, but they will waste a lot of juice as the bottom strings will soak up a lot of juice that just gets dumped on the ground.
I have not tried the acrylic craft yarn as anything but the bottom string of a 48-inch top-string loop. It is quite self-closing and low-capacity -- which balances well with the high capacity of this acrylic/wool blend. It remains to be seen if the craft yarn is worthwhile with very large loops -- it might need an extra strand or some weight to be useful at very large sizes.