Knitting with Bamboo Yarn

Wool and Knitting Needles
Radius Images/Getty Images

Bamboo yarn is made with bamboo grass that is harvested and distilled into cellulose that is then spun into the yarn.

Bamboo knitting yarn is a relatively new entry in the knitting world, but it has become quite popular very quickly and with good reason. Bamboo is a beautiful natural fiber that wears well and is often considered naturally antibacterial.

Positive Things About Bamboo Yarn

  • Bamboo is a renewable resource. Bamboo can be harvested without killing the plant, and it only takes a few months before the plant is ready to be harvested again. That makes it an environmentally friendly choice.
  • Bamboo yarn, when not mixed with unnatural fibers, is biodegradable.
  • Bamboo yarn often is dyed with more natural dyes that are safer for the environment.
  • Bamboo fabric is naturally antibacterial.
  • Bamboo also has ultra violet-protective properties.
  • Fabric knitted with bamboo is quite breathable and cool and has great drape.
  • Bamboo has a good luster, similar to mercerized cotton.
  • Bamboo is strong, flexible, and can be softer than silk when spun into yarn.

Potential Bamboo Negatives

  • Bamboo yarn loses strength when it is wet and swells considerably in water.
  • The yarn may not be very cohesive. Some brands split much more than others.
  • Bamboo needs to be hand-washed, so it isn't a great choice for things that need to be washed frequently.

Tips for Working with Bamboo Yarn

  • If the antibacterial property is something you are looking for, stick with a 100% bamboo yarn or choose one that has at least 70% bamboo for best results.
  • Use blunt-ended needles to cut down on the splitting (perhaps bamboo needles?).
  • Knit slowly at first to avoid splitting.
  • If you're looking for strength in the fabric but are using a fine bamboo yarn, try knitting with two strands held together.

Places to Buy Bamboo Yarn

Many knitting manufacturers now have bamboo yarns and bamboo blends in their lines.

Here are a few to check out:

Bamboo is a wonderful choice for an item that is a little bit of luxury and brings beauty and antibacterial strength to your projects.