Whether You Spin, Knit or Dye,
It All Begins With These Natural Fibers
All the natural fibers you will read about here are used as knitting and weaving yarns and most also as handspinning fiber. Wool, silk, cotton, and bast fibers (coming from the skeletal structure of plants) like flax, hemp and ramie are used most closely to their original state and have been used for centuries.
Other fibers may be referred to as semi-synthetic because they require more modern day processing techniques to be usable in fiber form. Nevertheless, they are biodegradable and from renewable resources. They are mostly from natural plant material ie. cellulose based and include rayons, viscose, bamboo, seaweed, soy, corn and tencel which comes from wood. They can be naturally dyed similar to the other cellulose fibers.
Acrylic fibers are petrochemical based - a less renewable resource and non-biodegradable. But they have come a long way in mimicking some of the qualities of wool, silk and plant fibers – in warmth and softness and are less expensive to produce, so while they are not my personal favourites, they have their place. They are of course, used as knitting and weaving yarns, less commonly for handspinning.
The natural fibers are divided into two main categories – protein fibers and cellulose fibers. Protein fibers are primarily wool and silk while cellulose is anything from plant material - the most common being cotton.
Continue to the page links below for more information:
Natural Fibers To Wool Fiber
To Silk Fiber
To Plant Fibers
Natural Fibers dye beautifully with
I've included some information on spinning the various fibers but it may not be enough. Two books I have found really helpful are:
Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning by Judith MacKenzie McCuin
The Ashford Book of Spinning by Anne Field
They are also very helpful if teaching yourself to spin.
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