Looking for a lustrous, strong yarn that’s vegan friendly? Soy fibers might be the perfect choice for you. I explore what soy yarn is, and ways to use it for knitting.
I reviewed, fact checked and updated this post on May 16, 2023.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Soy Yarn?
- What Do You Use It For?
- Common Blends Using This Fiber
- Where To Find It
- Interesting Facts
What Is Soy Yarn?
Soy fiber isn’t popular because it’s not widely available and relatively new to the fiber market, however, it’s lustrous, breathable, smooth, and moisture-wicking.
Soy yarn is a plant fiber, they’re soft and great for long-lasting projects as they have high tensile strength. These natural fibers are available in all colors of the rainbow as they respond well to natural dyes and acid dyes. It’s naturally a light yellow color, but it has good colorfastness when dyed as it’s processed using high heat.
Usually sold in 1.8oz/50g balls at affordable prices, often labeled as “soysilk yarn” as it feels like silk against the skin. But unlike silk yarns, it’s plant-based.
Where It Comes From
Soybeans are the source of soy yarn. Soybeans come from the soy plant, which is a part of the legume family. The plant is mostly found in Asia, however, it’s also in North and South America.
The scientific name is Glycine max, and it’s also called the soyabean plant. It has many other uses, including soy milk, tofu, soy sauce, and tempeh.
How It’s Made Into Yarn
The plant grows in pods that contain beans. The beans are then harvested, hulled, and the oil is extracted to produce biodiesel and other products. The meal that’s leftover is used as animal feed or made into soy yarn.
The fibers are harvested from the stalk of the plant and made into yarn. It’s a sustainable option, as the plant doesn’t require much water or land to grow.
The yarn is made from the cellulose in the plant. The process starts with dissolving the cellulose. Once it’s dissolved, it’s forced through tiny holes to create long strands of fiber called filaments. These filaments are spun into yarn.
How To Wash Soy Yarn
Soy yarn can be machine washed on the delicate cycle in cool water with a mild detergent. You can also hand wash it in cool water with a mild detergent.
To dry, lay flat or hang on a drying rack. It dries quickly and doesn’t need to be blocked. Always check the yarn label for care instructions for soy fibers or the specific to the yarn you’re using.
Does It Shrink When Washed?
No, these plant fibers won’t, because they’re highly resistant to heat and agitation.
How To Soften Soy Yarn
Washing it after you’ve finished knitting always helps!
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What Do You Use It For?
It’s often used for projects and things like clothing, dresses, summer garments, cardigans, accessories, scarves, purses, hats, knit socks, gloves, toys, home décor, a spring garment, dishcloths, towels, or baby items.
It’s excellent for making clothing as it’s so strong. The luster means that it looks great in casual and dressy garments. It has a lovely drape, which makes it ideal for summer items. For more information about summer yarn options check out my post here.
This yarn is also good for making things for the home as it’s durable and can be machine washed. It would make lovely dishcloths, towels, and tablecloths to last for years. Like silk, it’s slippery to knit with, so I wouldn’t recommend metal needles when making knitted items.
It has a lot of stretch when you wear it, so I’d avoid it for fitted garments, unless you’re using a blend. Some knitters love the texture and stretchy characteristics, but it can be tricky to use.
Common Blends Using This Fiber
Here is a list of common blends using this yarn, and why they’re created.
- Soy/Linen – for a cool, crisp fabric
- Soy/Cotton – for absorbency and breathability
- Soy/Wool – for warmth and insulation
- Soy/Bamboo – for drape and softness
- Soy/Hemp – for strength and durability
Where To Find It
Here’s where to find this yarn: at a yarn store or craft stores in your area, or nline brand shops. As it’s not widely available, it’s difficult to find at big box stores like Walmart, Joann or Michaels. It’s usually available in DK or fingering weight yarn.
Here are brands or manufacturers of soy yarns to try: KARA, SWTC, Queensland Collection, Patons, and Schulana.
What’s The Price Like?
The price of soy yarn is around the same as other luxury fibers like bamboo, linen, and silk. It’s more expensive than acrylic or wool, but less expensive than cashmere.
Want to know some fascinating tidbits about this material? Impress your friends with these.
- Soy yarn is biodegradable.
- It’s hypoallergenic and good for people with sensitive skin. It also has antibacterial properties and natural amino acids.
- It has a natural sheen which makes it look like silk.
- The fiber is resistant to mold, mildew, and insects.
- It’s being researched as a viable, biodegradable alternative to PVA.(1)
FAQs About Soy Yarn
Is Soy Yarn Safe For Babies?
Yes, it’s safe for babies because it’s hypoallergenic and soft.
Is Soy Yarn Ethical & Eco-Friendly?
The plant doesn’t need much water or land to grow. The yarn is also biodegradable, so it won’t add to landfill waste.
What Can I Make With Leftover Soy Yarn?
You can make dishcloths and other home décor items.
Is Soy Yarn Itchy?
No, it’s not itchy because it’s smooth.
Is Soy Yarn Good For Clothes?
Yes, it’s good for clothes because it’s durable.
Is Soy Yarn Good For Winter?
No, it’s not good for winter because it’s not too warm, however it would be suitable if it was blended with a warmer fiber, like sheep’s wool.
Is Soy Yarn Good For Summer?
Yes, it’s good for summer because it’s lightweight and has a lovely drape.
Do Soy Yarns Pill?
No, they don’t pill.
Can You Dye Soy Yarns?
Yes, you can. If you use a natural dye, keep it out of direct sunlight as it’ll fade with time.
What Is Soy Silk Yarn?
It’s a soy yarn treated to feel like silk. It often has a higher price than regular soy yarn.
Are Soya And Soy The Same Thing?
Yes, they are the same thing. Soy is the American spelling, and soya is British.
How Is Soy Silk Made?
The yarn is made from the protein fibers of the soybean plant. It’s often blended with other fibers like bamboo or wool to create a desired effect. The yarn can be treated to feel like silk.
What Is Soy Cotton Yarn?
It’s a cotton and soy blend which is absorbent and breathable.
Happy knitting! Hope you enjoyed this article. Do you have questions? Please leave them below!
- Zhao, Yi, Helan Xu, Bingnan Mu, Lan Xu, and Yiqi Yang. 2016. “Biodegradable Soy Protein Films with Controllable Water Solubility and Enhanced Mechanical Properties via Graft Polymerization.” Polymer Degradation and Stability 133: 75–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polymdegradstab.2016.08.003.