Tools + Supplies

Published on January 24th, 2008 | by Victoria Everman


Yearn-Worthy Yarns: Southwest Trading Company

Southwest Trading CompanyFor 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

[Image courtesy of Webs; SWTC Karaoke 50% SOYSILK/50% wool yarn]

Who makes your favorite sustainable yarns?

Which natural fiber is your favorite to work with? (i.e. cotton, wool, bamboo, hemp … etc.)

Let us know what you love to create with and we might feature them in the next installment of Yearn-Worthy Yarns!

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About the Author

I think of myself as a creatively versatile eco-powerhouse. Freelance writer, life-long model, on-camera personality, public speaker, official U.S. spokesperson for Twice Shy Clothing - I'm a classic Renaissance woman and mistress-of-all-trades. Though my days of growing up in the corn fields of central Indiana are behind me, forgetting where I came from is not an option. I lost my father unexpectedly in March of 2006, months before moving from NYC to San Francisco, which helped to amplify my zest for life and thirst to help change the world. Perpetually looking for fresh ways to share my unquenchable green knowledge, I blog about everything eco on my own website, as well as for All Green Magazine and select others. Additionally, I am the editor/head writer of Crafting a Green World (part of the Green Options blog network) and a writer/web editor for Building Green TV. My diverse articles have been published in variety of reputable magazines, such as: Yoga Journal, Venus, CRAFT, Yogi Times, Recovery Solutions, M+F, and Office Solutions. In my spare time, you can find me knitting, reading, singing, taking pictures, practicing yoga, taking long walks, and working on my first non-fiction book. Other random facts about me: I'm a Buddhist, latex fan, have four tattoos, and an attempting locavore. MOVING TO PORTLAND, OREGON IN JUNE 2008

One Response to Yearn-Worthy Yarns: Southwest Trading Company

  1. Kendra Holliday says:

    How embarrassing! I just sent in a question asking about non-wool yarn that is eco-friendly and soft, and poof, found this post! Thanks!

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