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Updated: Jul 26, 2023

There’s a fiber that can be extracted from shrimp, crab, and krill shells. Chitin is a naturally occurring polysaccharide and the second most abundant natural polymer after cellulose. Commercially produced from shell waste, the material undergoes a series of processes to remove protein and minerals. Chitin represents only 15–25% of the total amount in a carapace.

Its strength and antimicrobial properties stand out among the many benefits of this fiber. Chitin can inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms. It can also slow sweat and reduce odor, keeping the body clean.

This biodegradable product can also give us a cooling and moisturizing effect. Additionally, it promotes skin regeneration and strengthens the immune system through its antimicrobial characteristics. Another good news for us crafties is that chitin reacts very well when dyed, resulting in vivid and powerful colors.

Crabyon: the use of chitin in industry

Currently, the Japanese group Omikenshi has the patent for crabyon, a blend of chitin and viscose (a vegetal fiber made of cellulose). This thread is manufactured by Pozzi Electa, an Italian-based textile producer.

The exclusive transformation of crabyon into yarn ensures that the properties of the chitin remain unaltered, making the fiber intrinsically antibacterial and hypoallergenic. The fabric remains even after long-term use of the garments and numerous washes. The fabric retains these qualities even after prolonged use and numerous washes. Additionally, it helps soothe irritations caused by excessive exposure to sunlight or skin problems, such as dermatitis.

80% cotton and 20% crabyon | 100% crabyon | 70% polyamide and 30% crabyon

Pozzi Electa's production is primarily intended for the textile industry, specifically for underwear, technical and sports clothing, bedding, and medical garments. It's particularly suitable for burn treatments, socks for diabetic patients, and gloves for individuals with allergies. Depending on specific requirements, Pozzi Electa creates blends with crabyon ranging from 5% to 99%, combined with other fibers such as cotton and modal.

From the lab to your stash

We have discovered two knittable chitin-based products that are ready to jump in your project bag! The first one is called Onde, produced by the Italian company Filatura di Crosa. It is a sport-weight yarn composed of 67% crabyon and 33% cotton. Each 100g skein of Onde provides approximately 280 meters (306 yards) of yarn.

Onde – Filatura di Crosa
Onde – Filatura di Crosa

Tofutsies, the signature sock yarn from SWTC, is renowned for its vibrant colors that stripe naturally as you knit. Each ball of Tofutsies is designed to create a pair of socks or a lace scarf. The composition of this yarn consists of 50% superwash wool, 25% soy silk, 22.5% cotton, and 2.5% chitin. It's suitable for machine washing and drying. Each 100g skein of Tofutsies provides approximately 425 meters (465 yards) of yarn.

Tofutsies – SWTC
Tofutsies – SWTC

Do you feel ready for a delightful knitting afternoon by the beach with your sea yarn? We sure do! Enjoy!


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