May 2008

Banana Silk

Just as I thought I have seen it all and no new product could surprise me, I encountered one, Banana Silk. Banana silk is made out of the fibers of banana stalks and leaves. As a result, this is a renewable source of fiber. The plant is not destroyed in the process, as the dead leaves and the decaying outer layers of the bark are used for creating fabric. This material is soaked in water until all the chlorophyll is dissolved and the remaining cellulose fibers are extruded into pulp which in turn is spun into yarn.

The resulting yarn is soft and shiny, but is not stretchy, like rayon and cotton. The yarn is hand-spun by women in Nepal and India. It is hand-dyed in vibrant colors, just like the saris they wear. The yarn is offered as bulky weight. Therefore, if you knit it with small size needles or hooks you can produce items such as belts and purses. Working with large size needles and hooks can create items with a nice drape such as scarves and stoles.

Yarn companies claim that the yarn becomes softer when washed. However, some users have encountered problems. Although the yarn becomes softer, it is not colorfast and loses its shine when washed. As a result, if you plan to make a garment or an accessory such as a scarf, wearing it in wet weather may cause the scarf to bleed into your light-colored garments.

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Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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