Silky Soy Fiber: Have You Tried It Yet?
Soy fiber is a qualified, if unlikely, candidate for a yarn. It’s strong yet soft, with a luster similar to that of silk. Soy fiber also has good colorfastness and elegant drape. It is an all-natural and healthy choice—with antibacterial properties, as well as amino acids that boost skin health.
The first use of soy in textiles was in the 1930s, when Henry Ford produced car-seat upholstery with a blend of soybean and sheep’s wool. Soy yarn fiber comes from the byproducts of the tofu and soy-food industry. The useable soybean leftovers are called okara, which is in liquid form. Through a process called wet-spinning, soy proteins are extracted from the okara and dried. The dried proteins are then spun into yarn, either the dried soy protein by itself or with other fibers such as wool or cotton. The operation is eco-friendly and leaves little to no waste.
Because of the range of fibers soy agrees with, soy and soy-blend yarns differ widely in style and characteristics. The five yarns reviewed below vary in feel, look, and weight.
1 South West Trading Company Oasis
Content: 100% Soy Silk
Put-Up: 240 yd [220 m]/31/2 oz [100 g]
Care: Handwash or dry clean
Recommended Gauge: 5 sts and 8 rows = 1″ (2.5 cm) on size 6 (4 mm) needles
Oasis is squishy in the skein and stretchy in the swatch. It is a DK-weight yarn made exclusively from soy (Soy Silk is a trademark of SWTC) and so is optimal for warm-weather attire—tank tops, kerchiefs, and lace shawls. This strong “tube” yarn does not break easily, rendering it worthy of projects such as purses and home items that might receive a little more wear. The colors of Oasis are earthy and bold, both in solid and variegated skeins. www.swtcyarn.com
2 Habu Textiles XS-52 Soy Yarn
Content: 100% soy
Put-Up: 554 yd [506 m]/31/2 oz [100 g]
Recommended Needles: Size 2–4 (2.75–3.5 mm)
The cobweb—almost threadlike—fineness of this yarn lends it best to lacework. Here it is knitted with eight strands held together; the feel is akin to very fine cotton. It is delicate, with excellent drape (but also very durable!), and because it comes only in this natural cream tone, it is the epitome of pure. www.habutextiles.com
3 Kolláge Milky Whey
Content: 50% milk, 50% soy
Put‑Up: 137 yd [125 m]/13/4 oz [50 g]
Care: Handwash, lay flat to dry
Recommended Gauge: 24 sts and 32 rows = 4″ (10 cm) on size 4 (3.5 mm) needles after washing
Milky Whey is uniquely half milk, half soy—a very intriguing combination! This soft, shiny fiber has fine stitch definition and is a pleasure on the hands to knit with. The light DK-weight yarn knits up into a drapey fabric that allows for plenty of movement. Pretty spring pastels thrive in this yarn line, with a few summer brights cropping up among them. www.kollageyarns.com
4 The Fibre Company Savannah, distributed by Kelbourne Woolens
Content: 50% wool, 20% cotton, 15% linen, 15% soya
Put-Up: 160 yd [146 m]/13/4 oz [50 g]
Care: Handwash in cool water, lay flat to dry
Recommended Gauge: 22–25 sts = 4″ (10 cm) on size 4–6 (3.5–4 mm) needles
Classic Savannah is a blend of wool, cotton, linen, and soy. It has the look and feel of wool, with a touch of added strength and character. The yarn has a subtle sheen and an airy yet slightly firm quality. The colors featured in this line are reminiscent of summer wildflowers. www.kelbournewoolens.com
Consider Projects That Use Soy Fiber!