Fiber in your diet
November 6, 2007 6:33 AM   Subscribe

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere, it's time to break out the sweaters. Wool too itchy for you? (It is for poor Simon Cowell.) Cashmere and alpaca are easier to wear; a surface comparison shows why. But you can also steer clear of animal fibers altogether and opt for fabric made from wheat. For that matter, while you're at the greengrocer, also pick up some bamboo (1, 2), soy (1, 2), bananas, corn (1, 2), pineapple, milk (1, 2, 3) and rice. (Vegan yarns previously in AskMe.)
posted by GrammarMoses (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Cashmere and alpaca are easier to wear; a surface comparison shows why.

And that same surface comparison shows why polyester is even easier to wear. (And no animals are used in its production.)
posted by three blind mice at 6:54 AM on November 6, 2007

I saw some Yak sock yarn going for $60 at Stitches. And it only looked like enough for one sock! And it felt just like wool!

I love alpaca so much. Whenever I pass my baby alpaca scarf I just have to pet it and remark on how ridiculously soft it is.

I bought 2,000 yds of alpaca tweed and don't want to touch it. It's so pretty in its hank. It's too precious. What if there was some giant quadruped disease and my alpaca yarn was the last on earth?
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:55 AM on November 6, 2007

Alpaca's the bomb. Right now though, I'm working with a silk/cashmere/wool/nylon blend that is amazing (Noro Cash Iroha), and my alltime favorite yarn is the llama/wool blend of Cascade Pastaza
posted by padraigin at 7:26 AM on November 6, 2007

What if there was some giant quadruped disease and my alpaca yarn was the last on earth?

We'd extract the DNA, implant it in a kitten and go IPO.
posted by DU at 7:39 AM on November 6, 2007

Then there's always Polarfleece, for those of us who make fashion statements with manufactured fibers.
posted by pax digita at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2007

I'm allergic to alpaca. I discovered this as I was knitting with it. "Gosh, my hay fever's really acting up...must be a high pollen count" I thought to myself as I sniffled and knitted, breathing in more of those fibres.

Yeah, I wasn't particularly clever that day.

But I love bamboo. It's so soft, lovely, and no one believes it came from the same plant that makes excellent chopsticks and delicious shoots.
posted by Katemonkey at 7:55 AM on November 6, 2007

Dammit, Katemonkey, I was about to jump in and mention bamboo. Amazingly soft yarn to come from such an abrasive plant.
posted by hattifattener at 8:28 AM on November 6, 2007

That pineapple doesn't look too comfortable.
posted by MtDewd at 8:31 AM on November 6, 2007

We'd extract the DNA, implant it in a kitten and go IPO.

omigosh alpaca kittens would be frictionless! They would be so soft as to just slide around perpetually and mew on ricochet.

It would be like knitting maple syrup.
posted by cowbellemoo at 8:56 AM on November 6, 2007 [4 favorites]

Simon Cowell is allergic to wool.

Having just learned this fact, I have immediately forgotten another, no doubt more important fact, such as some algebraic formula or the birthday of a loved one.

Fuck you, Internet. A pitcher of knowledge pouring into the shot glass of my brain.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:10 AM on November 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Got myself a sweater when I was in Iceland. Those folks know how to make sweaters.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:28 AM on November 6, 2007

Indeed they do, SeƱor Smedley. Indeed they do. Sadly, though, some Icelandic wool can be among the itchiest. Blame it on the tog:

Icelandic sheep are descended directly from the sheep that the Viking settlers brought to Iceland over a thousand years ago. The breed is considered a "primitive" breed, and the relative isolation of Icelandic culture resulted in lack of cross-breeding that occurred in most other places to produce finer, softer wools (think Merino, Cormo, etc).

The Icelandic fleece is dual-coated. There are coarse, longer, more wiry hairs (the outer coat, called tog), and the softer, finer undercoat called thel.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:26 PM on November 6, 2007

Oooh! I'm writing a book on Ten Speed about these fibers right this very moment -- it'll be out next year! But meanwhile, check out Amy Singer's book No Sheep for You (Interweave Press) -- good stuff!

Check out the Habu Textiles links in particular, there are some other superfun yarns we haven't even touched on yet -- kenaf, aloo (aka nettle), milkweed... I wrote an article on them in an issue of CRAFT magazine a little while ago.

Alas, I gotta pack -- I'm heading out to Minneapolis to teach the rest of the week, but if anyone's got questions about these fibers, feel free to email me or post here, I'll check the thread later.
posted by at 6:25 AM on November 7, 2007

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