Barnyard Yarn

If you’ve always dreamed of a gourmet sweater knit of corn and a scarf made of milk—and who hasn’t?—you’ll be interested in the new ecoyarns. Made of proteins like soy, corn, milk casein, and chitin from crab or shrimp shells, the yarns offer an interesting alternative to boring old wool or cotton, and some claim they’re more sustainable (though it’s hard to imagine anything more sustainable than wool).

How do you make yarn out of milk? Well, according to Cyarn’s apparently Babel Fish–translated website, it’s simple: Just “dewater” and skim the milk; then, “by means of new bio-engineering technique, the protein spinning fluid suitable for a wet spinning process is manufactured, then finally the new high-grade textile fiber is made.” There you go!

Yarn importer Euroflax says milk and soy yarns were invented in the 1930s but were abandoned after World War II, when inexpensive synthetic man-made fibers became available.

Cost may turn out to be a problem for the new food-based ecoyarns, too. Given the record-high prices of grocery staples, you’d think these yarns wouldn’t be cheap, and you’d be right. Milk yarn is $18.25 a skein at Yarn Market, chitin and soy yarn is $15.85, and A-MAIZing corn yarn is $9.50.

If you really want to be thrifty and low-impact, you might consider knitting a sweater made of your own pet’s hair instead.

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