In a moment of creative eco-eccentricity, lured by a generous discount offer, I bought the most bonkers yarn I’ve ever seen…
Yes it really is bananas! It’s made from the banana plant. From the bark of banana trees, in fact. The fibres are made from the dead outer layer of bark from older trees. It is scraped off by hand and soaked in water over a period of time where it becomes soft cellulose fibers. These are suitable for spinning into yarn. This bark would otherwise be discarded, making banana yarn a wonderfully planet friendly, recycled product and completely natural too.
It’s eco and ethical credentials are awesome, seriously, it doesn’t get more ecofriendly than this.
Women’s co-operatives make, dye and handspin this yarn, providing a much needed income for small rural communities in India and Nepal, whilst providing a sustainable recycling service for the banana industry.
For the sake of our planet and the positive impact this yarn has, it’s definitely the kind of yarn we should be embracing.
It’s commonly regarded as ‘vegan silk’ due to it’s shiny texture and drape. You can see it’s subtle sheen in these close ups. Isn’t it pretty?
It feels quite tough, yet silky at the same time. I thought it wouldn’t feel nice against the skin because of that but it actually feels lovely, just like silk.
The yarn I have is quite rustic looking with quite a chunky thickness, but it varies a lot in each skein, with thick and thin bits all the way through them.
Being handspun they all look really different from each other and are completely unique.
Having never worked with this fibre or any other handspun yarn before, I thought I’d Google to see what to expect. It didn’t take much searching to find that this varying thickness throughout the skein is typical of banana and recycled silk yarns.
Another thing I noticed, and read about, was they also had quite a musty smell when they first arrived, but I left them to air for a couple of weeks on a shelf and the smell has gone from most of them. Apparently this is common and is due to the humidity when they are spun. I have now unknotted and opened out the remaining pongy skeins to air them better.
So what do you make with it? Theoretically it’s an alternative to cotton, silk and bamboo, but with the variable thickness, homeware, scarves and bags will work best, sizing could be a problem with these inconsistencies in the yarn thickness so I don’t think I would consider clothing, not yet anyway.
I’m not sure how robust a yarn it is, it looks fragile in some parts and super tough in others. It looks and feels much less fragile than recycled silk so I think it could be more hardwearing. I have lots of ideas and can’t wait to get experimenting!
Have you worked with banana yarn? I’d love to hear about it and what you made
If you love the sound of banana yarn and want to get your hands on some. Here are some (non affiliate) websites:
Yarn Yarn (UK) where I got mine from. Great range of ethical yarns and pretty colours.
Darn Good Yarn (US) Small range of options, often has offers on!
Etsy has plenty of independent sellers worldwide, some hand dying and spinning their own, others reselling. Great for choice.
I’ll be back to show you what I made soon. Why not subscribe so you don’t miss it