June 2011

What is Corn-fiber (Corn-silk)?

These days everywhere you look you’ll find new fiber made out of protein and sugar such as corn, soy, milk etc. While it is good to use renewable resources, at the same time it makes me wonder if it is a good idea to use a food source as yarn. With so many people around the world going hungry, creating fibers for yarn from a food source is questionable. However, since it is available, I will talk about it.

Corn-fiber is developed by Japanese Corn-fiber Research Institute. Also called corn-silk, it is not made of the silky fibers on top of the ear, but it is made of sugar derived from corn.

The sugar in corn is fermented into lactic acid which then is transformed into a polymer (polylactide), and finally extruded into fiber. The resulting fiber is similar to cotton yet more stretchy, very strong, soft, and moisture absorbent. Being moisture absorbent means that it takes dyes quite well. Therefore, you can find vibrant colors in corn-silk. It has a silk-like luster and is bacteria and mildew resistant. Unlike cotton that shrinks, corn-silk is shrink-resistant.

Corn-fiber is also dirt and stain resistant. It is considered environmentally friendly and is bio-degradable. Another property of corn-fiber is that it does not fade in sunlight. Corn-fiber can be spun with wool, cotton, and viscose. Considering its properties it seems to become a favorite of knitters soon for summer tops, sweaters, and socks. If you search on the internet you can find several manufacturers who produce hand-knitting corn-silk yarn.

For more information about corn-fiber, check out:

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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