It is known that us knitters like to knit all year round, come rain or shine. But when the sun is shining what yarns do we reach for. Plant Fibres of course! Plant fibres offer us a cooler alternative and provide a vegan option for those who would prefer to not use, or have allergies to animal fibres. With a variety of textures and properties to choose from, plant fibres can give you drape, structure, sheen, softness and versatility. Plus they are easy to care for and can take more of a beating than some of our more delicate woollens. Great for those summer garments or children’s clothes.
Here at Knit With Attitude we have various different plant fibres as well as plant fibre and wool blends. In this post I am going to focus on Växbo Lin Lingarn and Nuturing Fibres in Eco-Cotton, Eco-Fushion and Eco-Bamboo.
First up is Växbo Lin Lingarn. Lingarn is a 100% natural pure linen yarn traditionally grown and spun in Sweden. Växbo Lin’s Lingarn is certified with the Swedish Good Environmental Choice label (Bra Miljöval) because of its durability and environmentally friendly processing.
The earliest trace of flax culture in the Swedish county Hälsingland is dated to circa 200 AD. Evidence from the Viking age indicates that women wore linen chemises under their woolen skirts. Flax has been grown for domestic use throughout Sweden. In medieval times there was a surplus of flax in Hälsingland and linen became an item of trade. In fact, linen rather than money was used to pay taxes and fines.
Heres a little bit about how linen fibre is made from one of our earlier Fibre Fridays posts. ‘Linen comes from a plant called flax. Unlike cotton, where the fibre comes from a pod that the plant produces, linen is made from the inner stalk. This type of fibre is called a bast fibre. Other bast fibres include nettle, hemp and rattan. The plant is grown to a height of about 4 feet. When it is ready, the plants are pulled up from the roots and left to decompose in a process called retting. This unbinds the unwanted outer bark from the inner bark that makes the fibre. The two types of bark are separated by big metal rollers in a process called scutching. The fibre lengths are combed to find the longest fibres which are then spun into thread or yarn.’
Linen is a tough fibre that may feel stiff an unyielding at first, but the more you work it the more it softens. It is recommended winding linen by hand, as this begins the softening process, which continues the more you work with it.
Linen is great for summer garments. It holds it’s shape well and is light and airy. Providing a cool and breathable layer. Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
Mirabeau by Natalie Selles is an attractive striped summer top with a fetching lace panel. Idea for summer holidays and evenings dining al fresco. Light and cool, with fun Breton stripes, allowing you an opportunity to play with colour.
Fiore di Lino by Regina Moessmer is a simple summer top with the added flair of lacey details around hem and cuffs. Worked seamlessly from the top down you can add more or less lace as you prefer.
Next up is Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton. This DK weight cotton with a good twist, good definition and a dreamy palette of hand dyed colours. Nurturing Fibres is an Eco-friendly yarn range, hand dyed near Cape Town by Carle Dehning and her team. Nurturing fibres strive to conserve as much energy and waste during their production process. They make use of borehole water that is heated by solar power for their dye baths. After dyeing, the PH levels in the dyebaths are neutralized and the water is used to irrigate an olive grove near the dye studio. Their whole production process, from receiving the spun yarn, is done by hand.
Cotton is perfect for summer wear, accessories, children’s clothes, blankets and more. Here are a couple for inspiration:
Razzle Summer Poncho by Noma Ndlovu is a gorgeous open lace work poncho. This would make a great light and airy layer over a t-shirt. Knit on larger needles in a simple two row lace repeat, it will be speedy as well as straightforward. Buttons on the sides are a nice edition for closing.
Colour Block Shawl by Noma Ndlovu is a great way of indulging in a few colours. This easy to knit garter stitch shawl is knit using 5 colours. Create your perfect fade or just pick your favourites and let the beauty of this hand dyed yarn sing.
Last but not least we have Nurturing Fibres Eco-Bamboo and Eco-Fusion. I have grouped these two together because they are the same weight so are really interchangeable. Eco-Bamboo is a 100% Bamboo Fibre where the Eco-Fusion is a 50/50 blend of Bamboo and Cotton. The Eco-Bamboo and Eco-Fusion have the same principles of the other Nuturing Fibres yarns. Hand dyed, eco friendly and with an aim to conserve as much energy and waste during their production process..
Bamboo has an amazing sheen, it almost glows as it catches the light. The Eco-Bamboo has a good twist which helps it hold its shape and this means it will sag less than usual bamboo. Eco-Fusion plays with the bamboo and cottons qualities, plying a matte yarn against a glossy one to give an interesting texture to your knit wear.
Here is some information on Bamboo production from our earlier Fibre Fridays post: ‘Bamboo especially has been heralded as the new natural wonder fibre due to it’s renewability as a plant, but it’s journey from farm to knitting needles is not without it’s pitfalls. There is no denying that the process of producing these yarns is a chemical one. The fibres are broken down with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide into a viscose cellulose solution, which is then pushed through spinnerets. The fibre then solidifies into the fibre that can then be spun into yarn. Luckily, with newer technology this system is quoted as being a 99% closed loop system, where the chemicals are recycled and re-used for each batch of fibre.’
Bamboo offers a really cool to the touch quality, silky with good drape. Perfect for knitting and crochet projects. Here I have found a couple of crochet ones which I find inspiring:
Summer Rebel by Brenda Grobler is a go to summer top. Wide in the neck for a relaxed fit. The crochet stitch adding a cooling mesh fabric.
Flower Stole by Yuli Nilssen is a gorgeous crochet wrap. Perfect for draping over your shoulders on those cooler summer nights. Featuring an attractive flower pattern repeat it has a graphic play with light and shadow.
I hope these summer suggestions have you dreaming of hot days and given you some food for thought when it comes to plant fibres.