If you are new to purchasing yarn, you may wonder whether to buy man-made or natural fibers. At Meridian Mill House, we admit that we have a bit of bias because we’re big believers in the beauty and versatility of natural fibers. Not only are natural fiber yarns attractive and highly workable, but they are better for the environment and human health. Read on to learn more about the benefits of using yarns made of natural fibers for your projects.
What Are Natural Fibers
Natural fibers come from animals or plants, including materials like wool, cotton, hemp, and more. Man-made or synthetic yarn is made from petrochemicals that do not break down like natural yarns. The use of synthetic materials like acrylic yarn claims the benefits of being lightweight, machine washable, wrinkle-resistant, and readily available on the mass market at a lower price point. But, that isn’t the whole story.
Advantages of Using Natural Fibers
Natural fibers offer some significant advantages worth exploring. They’re more environmentally conscious and sustainably produced. They also offer excellent performance characteristics like durability, breathability, flame resistance, and even antimicrobial properties. Natural fibers also usually require a lot less energy to produce in comparison with man-made options.
Not only is natural fiber production more sustainable, but natural fibers break down faster than their man-made counterparts. After being discarded, some natural yarns biodegrade within as little as five months. Because they contain no plastics, natural yarns are also more heat-resistant, making them better for making items where high heat is a concern.
Desirable Performance Properties
Many natural fibers offer the performance benefits typically associated with man-made materials, but there’s a major difference. Man-made materials have chemical additives that make them more flame resistant or breathable, whereas many natural fibers already possess these properties. For example, wool naturally resists bacteria, so socks made out of wool will stay dryer and fresher than those made of synthetic materials.
Natural fibers like wool yarn, for example, are especially great for beginners. Yarn made from wool has a naturally fuzzy texture, which helps stitches hold their shape. Acrylic yarn is very smooth and doesn’t hold its shape as easily. That’s why the stitch definition is more visible with wool than acrylic yarns, especially after blocking.
Better for Human Health
There is evidence that natural yarns are better for human health than synthetic yarns. Yarns made from natural fibers don’t contain some of the harsh chemicals found in man-made options. It’s even believed that sleeping with wool covers promotes better rest because it’s naturally breathable, so it is a good temperature regulator. Wool takes up and releases moisture which is helpful to all those hot sleepers out there. And we all know getting a good night’s sleep makes a difference in overall human health.