What is pineapple yarn?
Pineapple yarn (also known as piña yarn) is a natural fiber yarn made from the leaves of the pineapple plant. The Red Spanish variety in particular is grown for its high-quality fibers. In the Philippines, pineapple yarn is used create traditional textiles such as piña fabric and hablon.
From pineapple leaves to natural yarns
The traditional process of turning pineapple leaves into yarn involves harvesting the leaves of the Red Spanish pineapple, extracting the fibers by scraping, sorting and washing the fibers, and knotting them together to create piña yarn for weaving.
Washing pineapple fibers and knotting fibers to make piña yarn - Photos from National Commission for Culture and the Arts and UNESCO ICHCAP
The traditional way of pineapple fiber processing is still practiced by weaving communities. Since this is a labor intensive process, pure pineapple yarn made from the Red Spanish variety is considered a premium material for creating textiles.
(Left) Manual pineapple fiber extraction - Photo from JWerner via Wikimedia Commons
(Right) Pineapple fibers extracted from leaves using a decorticating machine - Photo from DOST-6, retrieved from pna.gov.ph
Pineapple fibers can also be extracted using decorticating machines from the leaves of the Hawaiian pineapple and Queen pineapple, with the resulting fiber from these two varieties being rougher than those of the Red Spanish. These fibers are then sent to spinning facilities to be spun into yarn or blended with other fibers.
What are the benefits of using pineapple yarn?
Lower impact on the environment
One of the most significant advantages of pineapple yarn is reduced environmental impact. Consumers have become more conscious of their environmental impact and designers are increasingly seeking alternatives to synthetic materials in order to create products that align with these values.
Natural yarns, including pineapple yarn, provide an alternative that enables designers to decrease their reliance on fossil fuel-based yarns like polyester which are non-renewable resources. In comparison, pineapple yarn is plant-based, renewable, and biodegradable.
Unique texture and appearance
The unique texture and appearance of pineapple yarn makes it distinct from other materials. Pineapple yarn is lightweight and soft to the touch as individual strands are very thin. It appears glossy and translucent in its natural form.
Fabric made from the yarn is very light so when wearing pure piña clothing (such as the traditional barong), you would need an inner cloth or lining so that the outfit would not be see-through.
Sourcing locally-made pineapple yarn contributes to the local economy and helps sustain the community’s traditional weaving culture.
In the Philippines, pineapple yarn is produced in regions with a rich history of weaving and textile production using natural fibers. The production of natural fabrics from plant fibers like abaca can be traced back to the 17th century. At present, the province of Aklan is known globally for producing the highest-quality piña.
Blending pineapple yarn with cotton
Though a great material on its own, when blended with cotton, pineapple yarn becomes a more versatile material that is not only comfortable to wear but also durable.
Cotton-pineapple yarn blends combine the softness and breathability of cotton with the strength and luster of pineapple fibers. This yarn is thicker compared to pure pineapple yarn, and when made into fabric it is not as transparent and feels slightly rougher than pure cotton fabric.
The use of cotton in the cotton-piña yarn blend makes it a more affordable option compared to pure piña yarns which are more expensive to produce. The pineapple and cotton yarn blend can be used for a variety of products including clothing, shoes, and accessories.
(Left) Cotton-piña shoes from LAKAT Sustainables
(Right) Blazer made with cotton-piña and colored with Azo-free dye
Where to Buy Pineapple Yarn
Panublix offers cotton-piña yarn made from 70% cotton and 30% pineapple fibers. This cotton and pineapple yarn blend is produced entirely in the province of Iloilo— the fibers are sourced from farms in Passi and Lemery, then processed into yarn at the Regional Yarn Production and Innovation Center (RYPIC), a local spinning facility in Miagao.
Choosing pineapple yarn offers designers an opportunity to make a positive impact on the fashion industry and create unique products that stand out in a crowded market. As the demand for sustainable alternatives continues to grow, pineapple yarn and natural yarn blends represent a promising solution for a more responsible and innovative future in fashion.