YARN OF THE MONTH - WHAT IS RAFFIA?
Updated: Aug 14, 2022
First of all, I would like to welcome you dear reader to this new section of my website. In the next few months you will be hearing from me on a monthly basis as I will be sharing more information about some yarns based on the season. I hope that you will enjoy these posts and I would love to hear from you in case you have any comments, thoughts and recommendations.
As you may understand from the title of this blogpost, this month we will talk about Raffia yarn!
What is this blogpost about?
We often hear, or even use, raffia yarn but - especially if you are a maker - do you know what it is? As the weather turns to a bit hotter every year, raffia yarn reappears as a fiber in various products. Raffia yarn is mostly used to make summer items such as summer bags, mats, shoes, baskets, hats and small pouches but what is it made of? Is it eco-friendly? Is it washable? Keep reading below and you will find out about everything related to this yarn as well as some links that might be useful for you!
What is Raffia yarn made of?
Raffia is made of a palm called Raphia Farinifera (or the raffia palm tree), which can be found in tropical regions such as South-East Asia, South and Central America but mainly in Madagascar. In order to make raffia yarn, producers use segments of the 18 meter (60ft) long leaves which are the veins and more specifically a membrane on the underside of the leaves which they roll and put them together to make them stronger before they dry them out. Later on the fiber can be dyed and then used to make various products.
What are some characteristics of this yarn?
Raffia yarn has quite a few characteristics that make it a great yarn to work with and make great, durable and nice-looking products. Here are some of these characteristics:
Sustainable: Harvesting raffia is considered sustainable as the plant is not harmed during the process of making raffia yarn so it can continue to grow as a plant. As mentioned above, the membrane of the leaves is used to make strands which are then placed under the sun to dry. The natural colour of the yarn is beige/ sand which is the colour that the strands take after drying out under the sun (they are initially green). Local people who collect the leaves to make the fiver are protected by governmental laws. Other laws forbid harvesting between June and October each year, in order for the palm trees to have enough time to regrow leaves before the new harvest season. Also, this yarn is biodegradable and easy to dye with natural colours.
Vegan: Yes, raffia is one of the vegan options for yarn.
Washable: You can wash this yarn gently but please do not soak it as it is not considered waterproof so it is important to take good care of your products made of raffia. Is there is something on your product (such as dirt) that you need to remove, it will be best for you to try and remove it with a soft brush first and if you cannot remove it try with a bit of water. Since this yarn is mainly used for summer products (hats, bags, baskets etc) it needs to stay as dry as possible.
Durable: As a yarn, raffia is resilient as its texture prevents it from cracking or breaking over time.
I hope that this blogpost was helpful and you will hear from me again next month with another yarn! Please feel free to reach out to me in case you have any questions or if you would like more information about this.
Interested in this yarn?
If you are interested in discovering some ways to use raffia yarn here are some suggestions:
Make a hat with raffia yarn: If you are a crocheter, you might be interested in making the ‘Kukka summer hat’ yourself by following my pattern.
Purchase yarn to make something else: If you are a maker and would like to buy some Raffia yarn, you can visit the Wool and the Gang website by clicking this link and we will both get 20% off when you spend $/ €/ £ 50!