Vegan yarn?
October 9, 2005 9:37 PM   Subscribe

KnittingFilter: good, warm, synthetic or plant-based yarns?

I want to make a winter scarf for a friend who is vegan, so it must be free of animal-derived fibers such as wool. Pure cotton will probably be too stiff, and most synthetic yarns don't seem to be very warm or cozy. I've looked into bamboo, soysilk, etc., but they, too, seem kind of lightweight and and silky and not really what I'm going for. All my nice warm scarf patterns call for wool or wool blends, and I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to do without it.

A cotton/acrylic blend seems like it might be the best option, but I'm not sure. What about linen? If you could name any particular brands/styles that you recommend, it would be most helpful. Thanks!

(P.S. I'm not interested in any rationales of why harvesting wool is in fact not cruel or environmentally unfriendly, etc.)
posted by keatsandyeats to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've never seen a plant-based fiber I'd describe as cozy, but there are actually some really nice warm synthetic ones. This microfiber one, or this polyester one, for example.
posted by cali at 9:55 PM on October 9, 2005

I wouldn't go with linen - it'll have a nice drape, but do absolutely nothing to keep her warm. Soy silk might not actually be too bad; it's very lightweight, but very warm too, and incredibly soft and, well, silky.

This site offers reviews of yarns - maybe check out their nylon and rayon section?

Another idea for cozyness - buy a yard or two of polarfleece, and cut it into long strips, either tying them together or just turning around when you reach the end of the fabric. (You'll get a little blip- but hey! Texture!) Knit that up with big needles, and you've got a bulky, warm, cozy scarf.

Finally, I've found Caron Simply Soft to be surprisingly soft and nice; it's a good worsted weight, and good if you want to do colorwork, or something less bulky than hacked-up polarfleece.
posted by kalimac at 10:08 PM on October 9, 2005

(P.S. I'm not interested in any rationales of why harvesting wool is in fact not cruel or environmentally unfriendly, etc.)

Are you interested in hearing reasons why cotten-based yarns may be cruel and environmentally unfriendly? Hint: depending on where the cotton is sourced from, its growth may have involved a major and wasteful abuse of water resources, and multiple (in some cases up to 15 times per crop) pesticide sprayings. Pesticides kill animals.
posted by Jimbob at 10:12 PM on October 9, 2005

As cali suggests, you might want to look into microfibers -- they are sometimes silky, but often cozy-ish. Also, some of the fuzzy yarns (Fun Fur-type things) are good but the actual yarn is very thin so it needs to be held together with something else. I'm actually woriking on a scarf with some random acrylic -- Red Heart, I think, which is no fun to wear -- held with a Lion Brand Fun Fur; the Fun Fur sticks out the sides and makes it fuzzy, disguising the itchy, gross acrylic underneath, but the acrylic gives it the bulk it needs.
There's always Lion Brand Homespun, which comes in lots of nice colors but is a huge bitch to work with. The yarn splits and for some reason I always end up making the stitches far, far too tight. It's v. cozy and warm though.

Also, found from a quick Google:
Vegan Yarn page on a random blog -- might not actually tell you what you need to know, but it has a lot of recommendations.

I'd also recommend checking out a couple of knitting boards in particular, and searching their archives or joining and asking: the Knitter's Review forum is pretty good, as is the Knitty Coffeeshop, where I actually found an existing thread on vegan yarns.

I have accounts on both boards so if you don't want to join, let me know and I can post for you. But if you are much of a knitter at all, I recommend joining anyway, because they are great resources for yarn, needle, book, website, pattern, etc. info, as well as helping solve pattern problems.

On preview, I like the polar fleece idea! I have been meaning to try that for a while. Make sure the gauge is tight though; you might get bigger holes between stitches than with a round yarn because of the ribbon-ness of it.
posted by librarina at 10:15 PM on October 9, 2005

I like the feel of Red Heart Plush & TLC Amore, which are 80% acrylic and 20% nylon, and basically the same yarn, as far as I can tell. They are much nicer feeling than the usual Red Heart indestructostuff. I'm not sure how it holds up, as the one thing I've made with it was a gift and the other I just started.
posted by Shoeburyness at 10:28 PM on October 9, 2005

Response by poster: Ah, I should have mentioned that the friend in question is male, and so the furry and eyelash type yarns are probably out, as they tend to knit into rather feminine-looking styles.

The yarns suggested by Shoeburyness look promising, as does Caron Simply Soft. I'll be sure to check them out, thanks.
posted by keatsandyeats at 10:45 PM on October 9, 2005

Lion Brand Homespun is acrylic/poly blend, available almost everywhere, and knits up very soft (but chunky and masculine). If you're after something a little more daring, though, why not look into knitting tapes and similar?
posted by methylsalicylate at 1:09 AM on October 10, 2005

Organic cotton scarf at NotMartha. She names the brand and gives (sort of) a pattern, with pictures.
"I made this scarf as a Christmas present for my father. He recycles like crazy, has a worm farm, buys organic and even drives a Prius. And, this is where I get it from, he cannot wear wool. So when I felt this Inca Cotton yarn I knew it was perfect - this is made from organic, unbleached, undyed cotton, the colors are the natural color of the plant. And it is remarkably soft, much softer than you would expect a cotton yarn to be. This is a slub yarn, it alternates thick and thin. It makes a soft, puffy fabric with a good amount of weight."
posted by Melinika at 6:55 AM on October 10, 2005

I second the Blue Sky Alpacas organic cotton, which actually does come in several colors, believe it or not. Other organic, undyed cottons include Foxfibre, Ecoknit and Pakucho. These undyed cottons fade in really interesting ways, too: The greens get a bit lighter, but the brown actually get darker.

I know I've seen polar fleece style yarn in baby yarn sections at many stores, maybe even Michaels. I also found a couple options at Yarn Market by searching for "Polyster" with the yarn finder. I made a scarf for myself last year out of Red Heart Bright & Lofty, and it kept me plenty warm, but then I'm in the South so not much was required of it.

Silk can be really warm too; to keep the weight down, maybe you could use a strand of silk with a strand of cotton.
posted by Jaie at 1:26 PM on October 10, 2005

Silk is hardly vegan.
posted by redfoxtail at 2:18 PM on October 10, 2005

Silk can be vegan - it can be harvested after the moths have developed and left the cocoon. Now as to whether the silk yarn on that website is vegan, who knows?
posted by Jaie at 3:46 PM on October 10, 2005

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