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Topic: Non-animal yarn help  (Read 18411 times)
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« on: April 18, 2004 02:00:57 PM »

I just bought the SNB book and it is so fabulous. I noticed that most of the patterns called for wool yarn and I am a vegan so iI don't buy wool yarn. Does anyone have suggestions for non-animal yarn that knits well and looks great, I am rying to expand my horizons. Thank you. *robyn

« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2004 05:39:32 PM »

I don't think acrylic is made from animals. Red Heart acrylic is very good (and cheap!) and I have never had a problem substituting wool with acrylic for any of the SNB patterns I've done.

« Reply #2 on: April 18, 2004 05:51:04 PM »

...of course if you use synthetic fibers, you have to think about the chemicals/processes used in their creation and the impact of that on living beings.
Sadly, its kind of hard to do much in the world these days and not harm something in some way, however inadvertantly.  
I have been a vegan in terms of diet for over 15 years, but I do wear/knit with wool and cashmere.  
If you are hard core, how about cashmere?  It is traditionally gathered from a particular type of goat when it sheds from it's underbelly one time a year -  thats why its so expensive.  In some areas of the world they just follow the wild goats around and pick it up off of the ground when it sheds - the animal isnt' even touched.
Whatever you settle on, as long as you match up your gauge with any of the projects, it doesn't matter what you end up knitting them with -
Good luck!
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2004 09:50:36 AM »

Hi.  I'm just curious.  I know you're a vegan but why does it matter if the yarn comes from an animal?  You don't hurt or kill the animal so why would it be a problem?  Just curious.
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2004 09:58:02 AM »

i sympathise - i am allergic to many animal yarns and am a vegetarian so don't use silk. frankly from what i've heard about the treatment of sheep i would think twice about buying wool even if i could wear it.

i think the best non-animal yarns for most purposes are acrylic-cotton blends, eg rowan all-seasons cotton. they have more elasticity and are less drying on the hands than pure cotton, and are more breathable than acrylic, which doesn't absorb moisture, so if you sweat while wearing it, you stay sweaty.  Tongue
your options are really limited to synthetics like rayon and acrylic, cotton, and the lesser available hemp and linen, but you can get a pretty wide variety of interesting yarns from these.

i am not well-informed about the dyes used by yarn manufacturers but you may want to investigate the possibility that anything red, brown, purple, pink or orange may have been dyed with cochineal.

ann points out that synthetic fibres use chemicals and processes which may be harmful, but i must point out that any fibre is processed - i mean, wool does not grow on the sheep in ready-coloured 4ply strands which are cut from the animal by nomadic shepherds with flint hand-axes, and then transported to the shops in horse-drawn carts! i mean, unless you live a seriously alternative lifestyle it's a bit much to expect that nothing you do will harm anything at all.
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2004 10:14:12 AM »

there are cotton, linen, and even hemp yarns (for vegetable fibers)
acrylic, rayon, and nylon yarns all exist (for synthetic fibers)

wool, cashmere, angora, mohair, and alpaca are all animal fibers  but if you're willing to do research and figure out exactly where your ethical line lies and what you object to, you might find that some of those are acceptable to you.  
If you object to people keeping animals at all, this won't apply to you, but if you only object to people keeping animals in what you deem to be an inhumane manner, you may find that a surprising amount of animal fiber is open to you.
I think (and I'm not sure, so you'd have to check this out for yourself) that some of the animals essentially have to be free range to produce high quality fiber (like cashmere goats maybe) where as others (I think) essentially have to be cage raised (and regularly groomed) to keep their hair from forming useless mats (like angora rabbits maybe).  10-20 years ago alpaca was only gathered from the tufts of fur that the wild animals naturally shed onto the ground/rocks/trees/etc.  In addition they were a protected species, and people weren't even supposed to touch them.  So alpaca was incredibly expensive.  Nowadays I know there are alpaca farms, but I don't know how the hair is gathered.  As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the fiber, the more work went into collecting it - and that includes the care of the animal, the land on which the animals live, the quality of food they are given, etc.  You can buy yarns from individuals who own their own animals, harvest their hair, and spin and dye their own yarn.  Since there is no mass production involved, this yarn is *very* expensive, but those are probably very happy animals.  On a slightly larger scale, I believe there are certified organic yarns made from (for example) wool from free range sheep, dyed with only vegetable dyes, etc.  again, more expensive than the mass produced stuff, but you could probably satisfy yourself as to the conditions the animals live in.  And keep in mind that while a sheep probably doesn't enjoy being sheared (shorn?) it only takes about 2 minutes and they're much happier afterwards.

Wow!  I've written way more than I intended to, and I hope I haven't offended anyone.  I just think that it's important to really think about lifestyle decisions you make, and to make sure that you're informed about all the implications.
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2004 10:28:07 AM »

I like to use cotton and linen-- organic and nonbleached if possible.  I do succumb to acrylics and polyesters a fair amount.  Check out http://secure.elann.com/productdisp.asp?NAME=Naturelle+8%2F8+on+Cones&Season=&Company=&Cat=Bargains&ProductType=5&OrderBy=+Order+By+Bargain+Desc&Count=12--Naturelle 8/8 on Cones-- on elann.com for a nice, cheap recycled cotton.  They also have some good organic cotton, and some killer bargains.

« Last Edit: April 19, 2004 10:29:15 AM by susank » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2004 10:34:14 AM »

I'm impressed by your dedication to veganism Smiley
I buy mostly non-animal yarn, due more to my budget than beliefs. From what I understand, though,  sheep raised for their wool have to be treated humanely- stress and poor health adversely affect their fleece.
I've had good results with Bernat Boucle & Lion Brand Jiffy.  I like Red Heart for accessories, but I wouldn't recommend it for sweaters & the like. It's pretty itchy.
Lion Brand is fairly cheap & has a variety of non-animal yarn. Jiffy Thick & Quick, Cotton-Ease, Glitterspun, Fun Fur, and Homespun all knit nicely. Sugar & Cream cotton comes in cute colors, but small amounts.  I'm making a tank top in Bernat Sox yarn & it's quite cute.
If you have more $$ to spend, Rowan cotton is awesome, as is Patons Katrina (made of rayon). There's also hemp yarn out there somewhere, but I've never tried it.
This may not fit your ethics, but Himalyan Recycled Silk yarn is fabulous! I genrally avoid silk because of how it is produced, but I consider this an exception, as it is recycled.
Good luck with your search!

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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2004 12:39:02 PM »

I've heard of, and just this weekend saw and touched, bamboo yarn!  That was SUPER soft and may be a good substitute for wool......there's also something called SoySilk yarn out there which is very nice and soft.  Both are pretty pricey but still very nice.  

That recycled silk yarn is AWESOME stuff I've used it before.  I've also seen a lot of people who buy old sweaters like from a thrift store and frog the yarn to use in a new project...like how I would never buy myself a new leather jacket but am cool with a vintage one. Or am I kidding myself?  

I'm also looking for the cotton that grows with the color already genetically created-anyone seen that stuff yet? It supposedly has hit the market but I don't know any brand names, etc.

And although this isn't a good 'vegan' yarn, I think it's a great idea.


I've been trying to  think more about where my art products (well, all products in general) come from and how they are made...and purchase options that treat our resources and planet better, which will drive the production of more earth-friendly options and therefore reduce the price.  Yayy!!!

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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2004 02:57:43 PM »

Hi.  I'm just curious.  I know you're a vegan but why does it matter if the yarn comes from an animal?  You don't hurt or kill the animal so why would it be a problem?  Just curious.

err i think you may have misunderstood the difference between veganism & vegetarianism.
vegetarianism = not killing animals, so nothing made from dead animals
veganism = not using animals, so not using anything that comes from an animal.

i am not a vegan, so correct me if i'm wrong, but i believe the idea is that it is wrong to breed the sheep to have more hair than nature intended and basically use them as commodities, just so we can have nice wool.

you may think that the animal does not mind being farmed, and that's your opinion, but a vegan might say that you can't ask the animal for its consent to be farmed, so by default it's wrong to do it. whether the farming is humane is not necessarily the point.

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