Home > Soy and Corn Yarns
There are many new "enviro-friendly" fibers, and hence yarns, coming on the market these days. The latest few have come from products we usually associate with food....banana, soy, corn, seaweed.
I am currently not stocking either a banana or seaweed yarn, but may in the future. Since I have yarns from soy and corn available online, here is some info from the industry about them if you're curious....
Made as a by-product of the soybean industry, soybean protein fiber is naturally a light yellow color, like tussah silk. Soy fiber takes chemical dyes well (for those of you who are dyers, acid dyes are best and it is not as light/wash fast when dyed with natural dyes) and so this yarn is comercially available in a wide range of colors. The dyed yarn feautres both sunlight and perspiration fastness.
Soy protein yarn is lustrous like silk, and like silk, enjoys a higher breaking strength than wool and cotton (tho' lower than polyester). Unlike polyester however, soy breathes and has a moisture absorption like cotton, making it comfortable to wear in the summer.
Because of the high heat at which it is processed, you shouldn't have to worry about shrinking in the wash, and because it is fast to dry and anti-wrinkling, it makes a great garment for travel. Soy has a natural antibacterial resistance to coli bacillus, staph a., and candida albicans, so some many knitters particularly like it for children's and babies garments. It is also moth resistant.
A bit of a stretch in my mind, but an argument I know the seaweed yarn makers are claiming for their product as well (and maybe I'm just too much of a skeptic) is the health benefit of wearing this next to your skin. Rich in amino acids, soybean protein is said to activate the collagen protein in the skin.
In pilling tests, soybean yarns held up as well as similarly spun cotton yarns and better than similar polyamide yarns. Because of the low crimp in soybean fiber, it does fuzz, but does not pill the way many polyamides did in the "nylon brush" test the industry subjects its yarns to.
Sometimes carrying the label Ingeo®, which is a brand name, yarn made from corn fiber is like cotton in appearance, is breathable, has high wickability and good flame resistance. It also has more resilience and crimp than cotton, making the resulting fabric springier, and perhaps being easier on the hands to knit with. Made from a renewable natural fiber, the raw materials is abundant. Ingeo® is made by fermenting the simple sugar from the corn plant. This fermentation process transforms the sugar into a polymer called polyactide -tho' I also ran into some sources that called it polylactic acid, but in either case it is shortened to PLA-- which is then extruded at high force like other polymers into a fiber that is spun into yarn.
Corn's properties include low odor retention and good moisture management. It has a fluid drape and is easy to care for. Quick drying like soy, it also has demonstrated increased soil release properties in the industry's washing tests, so stains don't so easily set as with cotton. Corn is
If you are interested in reading a bit about either bamboo or tencel, two other "green" fibers/yarns I have available, check out this page.