The Spandex Principle: How learning about a fiber changed everything for me.

The Spandex Principle: How learning about a fiber changed everything for me.

Spandex is an amazing invention. A fiber creation by DuPont. And it’s shape (or what I think I learned about it years ago) has been one of the foundations of my life for more than two decades.

Seems silly, doesn’t it?

It does to me, when I say it like that.

But it’s true.

But before I tell you how, let me say this: I learned this back in the early to mid 90s. Things have probably changed in the fiber industry, and I’ve probably gotten some of it wrong, or twisted it in my mind to suit my purposes in the intervening decades.

To me, that doesn’t change the value of what I took away with me from my experience.

Anyway, For a portion of my professional career, I was a pretty well-known home sewing personality. I taught over 35,000 students from 57 countries. I wrote for international publications, was on TV, created patterns and more.

And while I was primarily self-taught (as in many things I do), I did fall down the rabbit hole of research, right into fashion college.

And that’s where I learned some of the nitty-gritty.

In a class I took because it sounded cool: The Science of Fashion.

It was all about the fibers and fabrics we worked with, and how their properties (oleophillic, anyone) affected how we designed and wore clothing.

I was in geek heaven.

And it was there we learned about Spandex (and let me note again, that I am rusty on all the details. I’ve been out of that world for over a decade now, and more than twice that away from this learning).

And this is what I remember:

Spandex (Lycra, elastane) is not really all that special as a polymer (human-created fiber), but that the shape of it’s fibers made it incredibly versatile.

To create this fiber, a shape had to be found that would both allow for stretch and flexibility and that would be stable and strong.

And so, there are straight sections (rods) connected by curly, whirly, almost freeform sections (springs). The rods provide stability and shape. The springs provide the most flexibility to bend and to uncoil or stretch.

BOTH sections are needed for the magic of this fiber to exist.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I immediately started pondering life, the universe and everything as applied to Spandex the moment I heard this.

Not at all.

I was in class, learning things, and trying to make sure I soaked it all up to pass.

It was later that I began to think on the idea.

That there was found (at least for this fiber) a near-perfect blend of order and near-chaos.

And once I got THAT idea into my head, I realized it applied to so many different areas.

For example, as an entrepreneur, I have a HUGE risk and chaos in what I do professionally (springs), so my daily personal life is mostlyhabitual and ordered (rods) with a place for everything.

So, last week, when someone comment on “Must Passion Fade Over Time?” with this comment:

I believe passion usually fades over time because most people continue to judge everything based on what occurred during the honeymoon stage of the relationship, instead of the middle period where successful relationships are forged because of the work both parties do to tweak, fix, mend and whatever else needs to be done.

I realized that again in my life, The Spandex Principle seemed like a perfect metaphor.

Love is like Spandex.

I had to say it, LOL! When we meet, it’s often unknowns and high passion and drama. As we settle down, things stabilize. Become more sure, more predictable. More solid and strong.

There are fibers that are just one or the other. Super stable and straight, or almost useless as thread, but excellent for taking up space and creating loft.

But Spandex has resiliency.

It stretches and it bounces back. It maintains it shape, especially when in an ideal environment (with other fibers—the right blend for the job, whatever that is).

And to me, this is love.

There are times of intense chaos (good and bad) and high passion. There are times of stability and maintenance, and sometimes boredom.

And for those who think a relationship should be all chaos and high passion, the rods part of the relationship is going to feel like failure. Or a let down. Or a great reason to break up and find that high somewhere else.

And there are those who really dislike that initial chaos as well. They can’t wait to get to the relaxed, low-passion, stable relationship bits.

And I’m not saying they are wrong—for them.

I like my relationship, though, to be like Spandex. I love the springy bits and the chaos and the disorder and high passion. I love the deep, connective parts that stabilize us and bond us more strongly together, ready to hold us in shape around those wild times.

And I love how those parts of life are connected.

And in some cases, planned.

Sometimes, we plan together for some “boring time.” Resettling, connecting and just being.

And other times, we plan for the spice and do things to kick it up a notch and turn the passion flame higher.

And it so strange to realize, after all these years, that the reason I think about this the way I do is because I learned about the shape of a manufactured fiber so many years ago.


What do you think? Any of this resonate with you or your life? In relationships or outside of them?

Or am I just weird, LOL!

More Posts

Happy Lovers Day!

Today is a day to celebrate lovers, but I have something I prefer more. Why not make today a day that you treat your relationship,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.