What are natural sources of yarn?
To begin by answering this question, we must first dive into what exactly yarn is. Yarn is defined as long continuous lengths of interlocked fibers that are suitable to produce various things like textiles, sewing, crocheting, knitting, weaving, embroidery, or even rope. Thread is the type of yarn that is most intended for sewing by either hand or machine. Embroidery threads are yarns specifically designed for needlework. Yarn can be made from several natural, synthetic, or sometimes even a blend of the two, fibers. Natural sources of yarn are ever increasing in popularity, and below, we’ve detailed exactly why that is.
Now that we’ve defined just what exactly yarn is, it’s time to look at some of the natural sources of yarn. You may be asking yourself, what are natural sources of yarn? Well, luckily, we have your back and are here to explain. Some of the natural materials used for yarn include cotton (which is normally used for mechanical weaving or for knitting into cloth), silk (a natural protein fiber, materials woven into textiles), linen (another natural fiber and derived from flax plant, which has a detailed history with use tied to yarn used for various textiles), bamboo, hemp, maize, nettle, soy fiber. Apart from materials, various animal fibers are sometimes used, or spun, to make yarn. One of the most spun animal fibers into yarn comes from the wool that is harvested from sheep. A sheep’s fleece helps the sheep regulate their body temperature and avoid pests and is also an excellent material to spin into yarn. Other frequently used animal fibers for the purpose of yarn are alpaca, angora rabbit, mohair (or angora goat), llamas, and silkworm (the only natural yarn that is also a continuous filament). Yarn makers have become quite creative over the years, and it has been recorded that material has also been used, albeit quite rarely, from camel, yak, possum, musk ox, vicuña, cat, dog, wolf, rabbit, bison, chinchilla hair, turkey, and even ostrich feathers. When harvesting natural material, most yarn weavers take into consideration many different elements of the material, such as those that have the advantage of being both elastic and breathable, while simultaneously trapping air. This combination of attributes makes for some of the warmest fabrics on the market today.
It is important to remember that natural yarns are made up of many different threads and the standard of quality is normally measured by the length of the fibers with their diameter to create a gauge. It is often thought that the longer and thinner the yarn is, the higher its quality. Some of the benefits of good, natural, yarn are that they are warm to touch, soft to the touch, maintain a low electrostatic charge, have great insulation properties, and are often thought of as hygroscopicity (ability to absorb moisture from the air).
Some additional benefits of natural yarn are that when you buy natural yarn, chances are you know or are at least familiar with the source (kind of like the local shop going on with food now) as well as the numerous environmental benefits because of natural yarn’s renewability and thus sustainability. Also, if you are a beginner or just starting out on your fabric weaving journey, natural yarn material is much more forgiving for any mistakes made. Furthermore, the natural yarns’ unmatched finishing or ability to hold shape and flame retardant capabilities make it especially valuable, which is very present within wool, since it is naturally flame-resistant and can even be used to put out small fires. Researchers have concluded that some natural yarn allow for a better night’s sleep due to its breathability, temperature regulation, and hygroscopicity. There’s a sense of connection to human history when working with natural fibers, because it brings us back to prior generations who depended on natural fibers for warmth, and finally, the undeniable and irreplaceable natural beauty and feel of natural yarn and these fibers’ ability to maintain vibrant colored dyes, each having both its own unique properties, as well as texture.
Yarn Trader is happy to source many different natural sources of yarn in Australia, including fibers locally sourced in South Australia and boasting a wide range and variety of wool, mohair, cotton, bamboo, silk, alpaca, possum, and cashmere.