All About Tencel Yarn (plus a free pattern!)

I'm eco-conscious, and I'll bet you are too. I recycle, reuse, and reduce wherever I can. But did you ever think about the environment in regards to your knitting?

The yarn you choose can make a difference ecologically, and I recently learned a lot about the fiber tencel from a segment on Knitting Daily TV. I thought tencel was a man-made fiber, which shows how much I know—not much!

Here's the segment, from Knitting Daily TV episode 1007:

Maidenhair Lace Wrap
by Christine Nissley for Prism Yarn

Laura Bryant is such a wealth of knowledge about all things knitting. She's the owner and creative force of Prism Yarn—beautiful handpainted yarns. Laura is a frequent guest on Knitting Daily TV, which is just one more reason to watch!

Tencel has a wonderful drape, which you can see from the Maidenhair Lace Wrap at left. It's knit out of a lace-weight 100% tencel yarn, and it has a beautiful drape—wonderful for lace knitting. It's a free pattern, too! I think it's stunning.

KDTV episode 1007 has lots more to offer. Clara Parkes and Eunny talk about recycled yarn. Really, knitters have been part of the recycling program for a long time.

Pre-World War II, people sold their old, too-much darned knitted sweaters and socks to mills that would break them down and re-spin the wool into yarn, or simply use the bits as stuffing for pillows, mattresses, or other furniture.

Now, recycled yarn is made from discarded clothing, leftover bits from fashion manufacturers, and other too-used fibers. Most recycled yarn is a blend of wool and cotton and other fibers. This blending compensates for possible weaknesses in some of the fibers included and it results in a strong fabric.

I love these insights into our craft, and Knitting Daily TV is such a wonderful resource. You can download episode 1007 (or any of the other episodes from series 1000!), and learn all so much!

These individual episode downloads are great ways to start watching now!


P.S. Have you knitted with tencel yarn? Leave a comment and tell us what you thought!



Other Things You May Like to Check Out:


Knitting Daily Blog, Yarn Info & Tips
Kathleen Cubley

About Kathleen Cubley

Hello daily knitters! I'm the editor of Knitting Daily. I've been obsessed with knitting for about ten years now and my favorite projects are sweaters. I like the occasional smaller project, but there's nothing like yards of stockinette with a well-placed cable or a subtle stitch pattern here and there. I crochet a bit now and then—especially when I need to produce a baby blanket in time for the baby shower. I've been in publishing for 20 years and I'm finally exactly where I want to be: at the crossroads of knitting and communication. I live in Spokane, Washington and when I'm not knitting I enjoy gardening, snuggling with my dogs, swimming, reading, and playing in the snow in the winter. But, really, I'm pretty much always knitting!

27 thoughts on “All About Tencel Yarn (plus a free pattern!)

  1. I try not to use tencel or bamboo. I’ve gathered that the processing required for these “natural” fibers is very harsh, often worse than for more standard wool/linen/cotton, and the factories are not always responsible about how they dispose of their chemical waste. I would love to have information on ecologically responsible factories.

  2. Count me as skeptical…but I think many of these ‘saving of the environment’ products play on people’s guilty consciences and really don’t make that much of the different in saving the environment at all. That said, I’d use tencel yarn just because I like to try different yarns, not because I’m trying to ‘reduce my carbon footprint.’

  3. The thing is, making Tencel yarn and/fabric is quite toxic. It really isn’t environmentally kind at all. And this is one of the reasons I won’t use it.

  4. The thing is, making Tencel yarn and/fabric is quite toxic. It really isn’t environmentally kind at all. And this is one of the reasons I won’t use it.

  5. I bought a skein of linen/tencil yarn last year at the TKGA session in Reno. I’m now making a sleeveless lace top and loving the silky feel and cool touch which will be perfect for FL weather. I’m a fan!

  6. Hi Kathleen and kudos to the whole KDaily team for such a friendly, informative, and easy-to-navigate site!

    A more general question if I may (and forgive if this should have been better placed over in some support forum), do your articles’ COMMENTS section close for further comments after some period of time?

    Whereas leaving this comment was easy (do to the open and ready comment window directly below the invitation “ADD A COMMENT”) when I was wanting to ask a questions in an older post (here: I find no such box for entering my text.

    Again, sorry about this more techy question about the site (rather than about Tencel Yarn) here and thanks again for a great site!

    Mpls, MN

    PS: is there a “guys corner” here somewhere (you know, some low-lit leather couched macho cigar room where a bunch of us MEN’s men sitting in circle, needles a click’n, and argue over cable patterns and the sound of clinking whiskey glasses)


  7. The solvent used to create tencel yarn is amine oxide, which is also used in many household cleaning products. It is completely biodegradeable and breaks down under normal sewage treatment. (Wise Geek,

    Transporting the materials does have significant environmental impact, but this may improve over time. Bamboo grows extremely fast and replenishes itself. It requires no pesticides and grows so fast in wetter states like Kentucky that it can take over an area very quickly. Cotton, on the other hand, is the costliest agricultural product in terms of environmental impact, except for the organically-grown cotton.

    For knitters who are unable to wear wool, this is a good alternative. It also makes a great deal of sense for summer wear.

  8. This didn’t post, so here goes again.

    The solvent used in creating tencel yarn is amine oxide, an ingredient in many household cleaning products. It is completely biodegradeable and breaks down well in regular sewage treatment. (Reference: Wise Geek,

    The main issue with tencel as far as the environment is concerned would be the transportation of raw materials to the factory.

    Bamboo is easily grown without chemicals and quickly replenishes itself. Instead of importing bamboo, it would make sense to grow the product here, since it reproduces well in wetter states like Kentucky.

    Conventionally-grown cotton has a severe environmental impact due to the chemicals used in growing the crop. Organically-grown cotton is a much better choice but is also quite expensive.

    For knitters who are unable to wear wool or looking for a good summer product, tencel yarn makes a lot of sense.

  9. Thanks for the beautiful video on tencel. I LOVE tencel. It is one of the most beautiful, soft yarns I’ve ever used. I have to admit I only have woven with it but it was a very tightly woven twill. I thought I had beat it too hard, but after washing and ironing, I was stunned to see just how soft and drapy this was. I’m sure it would knit up just as nice. Thanks for reminding me of this wonderful fiber.

  10. I am knitting a beaded shawl with tencel from Just Our Yarn, purchased at Rhinebeck. It has lovely variegated short repeats of aqua, purple and lime. The color is vivid and the yarn has a nice sheen to it. I love the drape and with the beads it will be really eyecatching. The yarn feels like silk. I’m a fan and would make more items from tencel. Having researched the processing, tencel is environmentally friendly.

  11. I knit the Henley Perfected sweater a few years ago with a cotton and Tencel blend. It was so very comfortable as well as attractive. Unfortunately, the sweater stretched horizontally. That was when I learned to include some wool in the yarn blend when knitting fitted garments. And I do intend to knit another Henley with Tencel in the blend! Judy in SE WI

  12. Tencel may not strictly be synthic, but it is certainly manmade.

    If you still think it’s not manmade, then please point out the plant or animal that produces the fiber. I know it starts as trees, but it has to be chemically altered, and then physically altered to become fiber.

    By humans.

    That makes it manmade.

    In contrast, although linen needs a lot of processing to get the fibers out of the plant stems in a useable form, the fibers exist in the plant before processing.

    Tencel does not exist as a fiber until it has been altered chemically and mechanically by humans to make it into fiber. That sounds manmade to me.

  13. I use Tencel because I like the properties that it lends to the project at hand. The fiber is manmade. Much more processing than, say, wool. Wool only requires cleaning and organizing the fiber. Tencel is nice, but heavy on the processing.

  14. By definition, a man-made fibre. Yes, it’s made from trees so it is a cellulose fibre. But it then requires tremendous amounts of processing to get the fibre to the point where one can work with it.

  15. Stashing huge amounts of yarn that we will never use is probably the most ecologically detrimental practice (no, I’m not innocent of this). Reducing consumption is the only real way to be ecologically sound. Of course, no one wants to hear that.

  16. Why is the video portion not showing? Audio is fine, but no video.
    This is not the first time your links to the Knitting Daily segments have failed to have any video.

  17. I loved the sheen, luster and stitch definition on the 50% Tencel/50% wool yarn from a well-known brand when I saw it in a store sample.

    Unfortunately, when I knitted a swatch for a gauge sample, I found this blend/brand to be hard on the hands (no give to the yarn) and not a good project to enjoy making cabled designs. They looked great but were no fun to knit. The yarn was also odd in that it kept a visible crease wherever I stopped knitting in my project, a very basic cowl. When I tried it on to check the drape and fit, it prickled and itched on my neck and even my wrist, as I considered fingerless gloves with it instead.

    I returned the remaining skeins the very next day. Since no amount of soaking/conditioning made the gauge sample stop prickling, I frogged the project and gave the yarn to a friend with a warning.

    I am sure there are more wearable combinations of Tencel and other fibers, than I encountered, but I certainly avoid anything with more than 10% Tencel now. Darn it, that yarn had soo much luster and was so attractive in the skein….

  18. @JudyW
    I’ve never had any problem with the video not being here. I suspect it is your computer or your internet browser program or connection speed. (I use Google Chrome browser.) As an alternative way to see the videos, you can probably go to you tube & search for the video by title. I know I occasionally watch Knitting Daily videos there just by looking through their videos there & finding one I’m interested in watching, so I’m just sure you could look at the title on this blog & then go there & search for it. Good luck!

  19. This is hardly all about tencel. Eco conscious? As everyone else has said, it requires massive processing to make and there certainly is no “tencel” fiber growing anywhere in the world. And unless I’m completely mistaken tencel is rayon by another name.

  20. I am working on a shawl knitting with tencel and LOVE IT! I heard of tencel from this episode and started looking. Very disappointed at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival since not one vender had tencel but finally found some at the LYS. Love love it. Thanks for always showing new yams, needles and techniques.

    Mary Pat Trainor