Best Natural Fiber Yarn without Wool

I want to knit a luxurious present for a friend who can’t wear wool. She would like a boomerang or asymmetrical triangular shawl in a natural material with bright colors — the blues, purples, and reds of the hand-dyed Malabrigo yarns. I want something with body in a fingering weight that is also soft. In other words, I want something just like a nice wool-fingering yarn that isn’t. What would you recommend?

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Silk! Miss Babs and Neighborhood Fiber Co. both have beautiful hand dyed silks!

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My mother presents me with the same challenge - so she gets silk or silk/linen blends.

Most recent was a cowl in Ella Rae Rustic Silk - wonderful to work with and Mom loved it.

Also Dye Diana Dye does gorgeous colors in non-wool yarns (most silk or silk blends) - I haven’t tried any yet but have my eye on several (OK - several dozen) of her colors.

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Pima cotton is a beautiful cotton with some shine to it that would be great to knit a shawl. Purl Soho has the most lovely cottons, silks and linen blends you can imagine. If you are interested, they are having a summer sale starting today Wednesday August 17th. Their yarn is not too expensive for high quality yarn. I have been knitting all summer with their cotton yarn and it is a joy to knit with.
Best of luck in your search for your perfect yarn to knit the shawl for your friend.

Chantal

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Does their cotton yarn have give? Is it stretchy just a bit? I’ve knitted with cotton before and it was like rope.

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Dye Diana Dye is a treasure. I had no idea such wonderful dyeing was available. Thank you.

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When I’ve used silk in the past it has been very soft and limp. For a shawl or shawlett, I would like it to stand up a bit around the neck. So it can also be worn as a scarf inside a winter coat like a cowl.

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It is definitely not like a rope. I did not have any difficulty knitting tight stitches like kfb or ssk or others. I am using the buttercup cotton right now to knit a baby layette.

It might take a bit of trial and error to find a shawl pattern and needle size combination that behaves the way you want it to. The silk cowl I made for my mother is highly textured and has plenty of body while remaining soft and drapey.

ETA: I would look for shawl patterns designed for non-wool yarns and examine the pictures to see if there is the potential to bunch up around the neck the way you desire.

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Tahki cotton classic comes in a lot of beautiful colors as well. (Not hand dyed, so not exactly on point). It is mercerized cotton and washable. I use it a lot.

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I did a temperature shawl out of Rowan Summerlite DK and they have some very saturated colors. Look at the Summerlite 4 ply and Handknit Cotton (available in the MDK shop). It’s 100% cotton but feels like heaven. Also do a google search on Sugarcane Yarn. It’s heavenly.

Is it all animal fibers or just sheep’s wool?

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Thank you for all the wonderful suggestions. I’m very glad I asked so that I now know of many choices. I’ll let you know how my swatches work out.

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I like bamboo. Check Webs to see a fairly large selection from 100% bamboo to blends with cotton or silk. It can be drapy but I made a lace and textured scarf that is far less so. It does stand up around my neck. Good luck!

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Maybe look into alpaca?

I’ve recently seen some yarns with silk, linen and Cotten. The sheen is lovely and they look to drape beautifully. Usually linen is a little stiff until it’s washed and used, but that didn’t appear to be the case with these yarns. I would stay away from 100% cotton as this will stretchhhhh out and end up at her ankles as it has no memory. Best of luck

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