What's the deal with natural fibres? We talked to blogger Ashlee Lackovic about why natural fibres are important to the craft community and the planet.
Why are natural fibres important?
With so many choices of yarn out there, it can become very difficult to choose the perfect wool for your project. Not all fibres and yarn are created equal and there is a big debate amongst knitters, crocheters and all fibre artists about which yarn is the best; especially, when it comes to natural vs. synthetic fibres.
I personally always felt knitting with something like merino wool or linen was a luxury but, now I feel like it is BEST part of knitting. There’s nothing like the feeling of running alpaca yarn through your fingers or creating a shawl with linen/cotton blend.
Although the fibre used, the price point and the brands of yarn all vary greatly, it doesn’t have to be confusing.
Synthetic yarn is man-made. The most common of theses being acrylic which is made from polyacrylonitrile (aka plastic). Although synthetics are readily available, cheap and made in a variety of colours, natural fibres, are just that, natural. You can break down natural fibres into two categories, animal and plant fibres.
Animal fibres are wool that obviously, comes from animals. The most common and recognizable of the natural fibre yarns is sheep’s wool but, you are not limited to just traditional yarns; everything from Alpaca. angora, cashmere, merino, mohair, silk and even yak wool can be found.
If you would rather stay away from animal fibres, fear not! You have just as amazing of choices. Bamboo, cotton, hemp, and soy. These yarns are often great for knitting all year around, durable and surprisingly fun to create with! Many of them can be used by people who are allergic or cannot tolerate animal fibres.There really is something for everyone and the beautiful creations you can make from these yarns is truly endless.
What can natural fibres do that synthetic ones can't?
Natural yarns tend to keep in warmth better and are more durable than synthetic yarn. Felting it can only be really done with animal fibres. Blocking for example is difficult, if not impossible, with acrylic yarn. However, with natural yarns you can easily create the final shape and fit you require for your garment or project when you use natural fibre yarn.
In terms of environmental impact. Natural fibres are a sustainable resource. Sheep, alpacas, and mountain goats will continue grow their fleece. Hemp, cotton, and bamboo are all naturally occurring plants and are excellent choices for knitters and crocheters who want to choose eco-friendly products.
We are all becoming more aware on how our everyday choices affect our environment and choosing natural fibre yarns is a great way to begin reducing our impact on our planet! Don’t be afraid to try a new yarn or new type of fibre from what you would normally choose. You may be pleasantly surprised on how amazing your project looks, and feels!
Ashlee Lackovic is a blogger and pattern designer from the snowy mountains of British Columbia, Canada. She runs her own knitting website called Smashlee Stitches where she shares her love of all things knitting with the world. Click here to visit her Smashlee Stitches blog, and follow her on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Photography credit: Joy Segovia