Friday, October 14, 2011

In Praise of Natural Yarns

When I was a little girl, my mother taught me to crochet.  She bought me my very own crochet hook, which I picked because of its shiny blue color, and probably because the size -- J -- made it feel like it was monogrammed.  I still use that hook today. 

Back then, your only yarn choices were acrylic.  (In fact, most of your clothing choices were of non-natural fibers too; it was the 70s, after all.)  Acrylic certainly is easy-care, but it tended to be scratchy, and it never had the feel of a nice homemade item.  Today's acrylics are much better, and they are well-suited for some applications.  However, they aren't quite the sustainable choice that one might hope for.

As gardening season gives way to more time inside, I spend more time on crocheting, knitting, and sewing, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite yarns.  All of these are used for our products over at Carrot Creations, and they would make fine choices for your own sustainable textile arts projects.

From left to right:

100% Cotton:  Cotton is, of course, a natural fiber, and these basic cotton yarns (once called "kitchen cottons") come in a wide range of twists, ombres, self-striping patterns, and solids.  They also wear extremely well.  I have kitchen towels that I have had for a decade made from these yarns, and they are still going strong.  Ditto for some socks that have gotten hard wear for two or three years without fraying.  Items made from this yarn will have a little "give" in them, and you can also shrink them a bit by drying them. 

100% Organic Cotton:  All of the benefits of cotton, plus organically grown.  This is my favorite yarn, not just for the sustainability credentials, but also because it crochets up fluffy and warm.  Because of the way the yarn is spun, it has the most "give" in it, and it is super-soft.

Bamboo/Wool Blend:  This particular yarn seems to take the dyes very well, so some of the most vibrant colors come in this yarn.  Bamboo has some antimicrobial properties, so this is a good yarn for socks or other items that you will use during exercise.  Because it does contain wool, you will want to wash it by hand or on cool, and lay flat to dry.  If you accidentally wash it on hot and put it in a hot dryer, it will felt on you.  (Guess how I learned this.)

Bamboo/Cotton Blend:  This yarn crochets up with a very light, silky feel, making it a good summer item option.  It combines the benefits of bamboo and cotton and gives you the lightest weight product of the four yarns.  Because it is a finer yarn than the others, you will be using a smaller hook and doing more work, but the yarn is very pleasant to handle.

What are your favorite sustainable yarns?
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1 comment :

  1. Very interesting about the different natural yarn. So nice to do a project using a natural yarn.
    I still have my first hook too. :)