Natural Fibers and What You Should Be Using Them For

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Hello everyone! Tara here—

This week, we’re going to talk about yarn that’s made with natural fibers: specifically natural fibers that aren’t from animals.

Last time, we spoke a bit about cotton, rayon/bamboo, etc., which you can check out HERE, but today we’re really going to crack down on fibers that are considered to be more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.

#1- Linen

When I think of linen, I think of really light summer fabrics. I’m usually picturing a white or a soft sand color and a very coastal grandma aesthetic.

Linen yarn is made from plants, the flax plant specifically, and shares a lot of traits with cotton yarn. They’re both moisture-wicking and dry quickly, making them ideal for summer projects. They soften the more you wash them too. Linen is also anti-fungal and antibacterial, so it won’t start to smell the way a synthetic fiber would.

Unlike cotton, you’re really going to want to use linen yarn in garments and accessories more than you would home décor projects like baskets. It does do well for projects like placemats and dish cloths, but it really shines in tops and shawls.

#2- Hemp/ Jute

When I think of hemp and jute, I usually think of them together because they have similar textures in my opinion. They’re also very similar in that they’re incredibly strong, completely bio-degradable and recyclable, making then incredible for the environment and a great choice for a project that’s going to get a work out.

Jute is typically spun into coarse threads to make rope, but you can find yarn like Scheepjes Mighty, which is a blend of cotton and jute. The cotton helps soften the yarn, while the jute adds a punch of strength that makes this yarn perfect for home décor like rugs, baskets, bags, placemats, etc.

Hemp yarn is easier to find and occasionally blended with cotton, but you can find yarn that is 100% hemp fibers. It won’t shrink as easily as jute will when it’s wet, so it’s not just great for home décor projects, but it’s perfect for dishcloths, soap cozies, and other projects that may get wet. Lion Brand’s Just Hemp is also a favorite for light accessories and cardigans.

#3- Nettle

Like jute and hemp, nettle is incredibly eco-friendly and sustainable and it’s quickly becoming a favorite to replace nylon. It’s incredibly strong, making it a favorite for projects like socks, which usually require a blend of wool and nylon to ensure the yarn can stand up to being worn as roughly as socks do.

Nettle yarn blends are usually paired with wool or superwash wool and are really great with garments and accessories, and, as mentioned earlier, for socks especially.

#4- Silk

While this one doesn’t come from one of the animals we usually think of when we think of yarn fibers, silk yarn is typically listed under the animal category when it comes to fiber because it comes from caterpillars. So why is it here? Most people don’t consider caterpillars to be animals.

Silk is fun to use and makes a luxuriously soft and surprisingly strong yarn. It’s warm, drapes beautifully and, like wool, it’s mildew-resistant. It doesn’t pill like an acrylic yarn would either. But, collecting silk from caterpillars is a lot, so this one is expensive. It’s why most yarns that contain silk are blended with other fibers as well.

Projects made with silk are delicate and you have to be careful when you get it wet. Because of this, you wouldn’t want to make anything for your kitchen or bathroom with this. Silk yarn is perfect for tops, scarves, shawls, and projects like that. You could use it for home décor, but it’s much better suited for something you’re going to wear.

#5- Soybean Fiber

Soybean fiber is known for being a lot like silk. It is so soft and stronger than most would expect, with a stunning drape. Like cotton and linen, it’s moisture-wicking and breathable, so this one is ideal for summer garments and accessories. It can usually be found blended with cotton yarn as well, like Stitch & Story’s Daydreamer yarn, and yarn made with this fiber is becoming easier to find in the marketplace.

With many industries looking into more and more ways to be sustainable and environmentally friendly, we’ve been seeing more natural fibers making their way into the market. One such fiber that seems to be trying to make its way is actually made from corn! It’s not widely available as yarn yet, but it may be something we’ll be seeing in the nearby future.

Do you have a question for us? Let us know in the comments below!

– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine

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2 Responses to Natural Fibers and What You Should Be Using Them For

  1. Pingback: Everything You Need To Know About The Different Wools | Crochet World Blog

  2. Pingback: Different Animals, Different Fibers: What You Need To Know For Your Yarn | Crochet World Blog

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