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The Right Yarn for Green Knitting

By: Caley Walsh

As I introduce myself to the knitting, I'm keeping in mind certain environmental concerns.

I’m interested in the kinds of yarn you should use for your projects. The problems of traditionally grown cotton are starting to emerge. According to the Pan North American Pesticide Action Network, cotton relies on more insecticides and pesticides than any other single crop. These pesticides, some of the most hazardous on the market, can harm farm workers, especially in developing countries, contaminate ground and surface water, and kill beneficial insects, social micro-organisms, and wildlife.

Organic cotton production uses no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and instead relies on natural processes, such as enhancing soil quality, to increase yields and disease resistance. Just as more and more clothing manufacturers are using organic cotton by consumer demand, you can find organic cotton yarn quite easily these days.

Interesting, industrial hemp (not marijuana!) is a sustainable crop and viable alternative to cotton and tree paper (which uses bleach and contributes to deforestation). Hemp can be used for insulation, biodegradable plastic, fuel, and more. More importantly, hemp requires little to no pesticides or herbicides and effectively controls erosion of topsoil. Nonetheless, the U.S. classifies hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act and is the only developed country that prohibits the growing of hemp as an agricultural crop.

You can purchase hemp yarn from many different places but this one of the best I have found, a Canadian online shop called Hemp for Knitting. They have their very own page about hemp. Aside from the environmental concerns, they say that it’s the strongest natural fiber and gets softer with every wash!

Happy Knitting!



Problems with Conventional Cotton Production” Panna: Pan North American Pesticide Action Network

 “Organic Cotton Production” World Wildlife Fund

 “Hemp” Wikipedia


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Hemp and organic cotton are a good start. Bamboo is as soft as silk (another organic fiber) and antibacterial as well. Other fibers are lambs and alpaca wool. Angora rabbit fir works well also. Check with your local knitting or yarn store or on line. There are lots of choices. Have fun!!!


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