Published on January 24th, 2008 | by Victoria Everman1
Yearn-Worthy Yarns: Southwest Trading Company
For as long as I can remember, Southwest Trading Company has been a major player in the yarn world. Run by mother-daughter team Jonette Beck and Jonelle Raffino, SWTC claims to have started the “Earth fiber” trend, being the first company to sell fibers from renewable resources “like corn, soy, milk, and bamboo. In 2006, we introduced Chitin fiber from shrimp and crab shells.”
Their most well-known and therefore best selling yarns are those made from SOYSILK, an unspeakably smooth fiber made from, you guessed it, soybeans. “The fiber is soft like silk, yet warm like cashmere. It wicks away moisture and has a soft, gentle drape. Interestingly, Henry Ford first thought of the idea of Soy Silk in the 1940s. However, during WW2 the government chose to endorse Rayon and Nylon and it would be decades before Soy fiber came to fruition,” says the SWTC website.
Southwest Trading Company’s two newest yarns both feature renewable fibers, as you would expect from this eco-conscious brand. Their much touted sock yarn, TOFUtsies, is made from 50% Superwash Wool, 25% SOYSILK brand fiber, 22.5% Cotton, 2.5% Chitin (made from
shrimp and crab shells) – not the most sustainable blend (it could be if they used organic wool and cotton), but it is still a fantastic yarn blend with a dizzying number of color choices. Bamboo has often be used in SWTC’s blends, but their first 100% bamboo yarn – Xie – made its debut late last year.
If you like to dye and spin your own fibers, SWTC offers four different ones for you to choose from. As expected, they also offer a wide variety of patterns based on each different type of yarn they create and sell. Modern knitting guru Vickie Howell has her own unique yarn collection with SWTC, featuring four different yarn made from sustainable sources in an array of her favorite punk-loving colors:
- Craft: 35% milk fiber, 65% organic cotton (I’m personally yearning for this one!)
- Rock: 40% SOYSILK, 30% fine wool, 30% hemp
- Love: 30% silk, 70% bamboo
- Vegas: 29% SOYSILK, 67% wool, 4% metallic thread
Who makes your favorite sustainable yarns?
Which natural fiber is your favorite to work with? (i.e. cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp … etc.)
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