It is a joy every day to look out on the fields around us, which are absolutely lovely, even during the rain. The fall colors are gorgeous shades of golden brown interspersed with the bright colors of fall leaves (although the leaves are mostly gone now). Farmers have been harvesting corn and soy for the past couple of weeks (out where we live, soy was the big crop this year), trying to get their crops in before bad weather. While driving around we noticed that soy fields are different colors, perhaps dependent on the type of soy that is grown or maybe the color is related to the soil. Some were the same color as golden topaz, others more the color of citrine. After harvest the soy fields all had a hue more common of the citrine.
Looking at the empty fields made me think about the uses of soy. Soy is a wonderful product and looking at the dry pods on the plants doesn't give you any idea of the many uses to which this bean is put. We are all familiar with soy milk and tofu. Those of you who shop at the store probably also have noticed that there are many yarns made with soy.
Soy yarn is made using a chemical process which is supposed to be somewhat green since the chemicals are reused. The yarn or fiber is made from okara, the waste product from tofu, soy milk, and soy oil. ( Using the waste instead of landfilling it is definitely green.) Liquid proteins are removed from the okara using bioengineered polymers. The liquid protein is wet spun through a spineret and then dried. When dry, the fiber threads are cut to length and spun with mechanical spinners. The soy threads can be spun into yarns that are 100% soy or mixed with other fibers to give it different characteristics.
Soy is a beautiful fiber. It has a lovely drape and sheen that compares with silk.
Making fibers from soy is not a new idea. In 1937 Henry Ford, who wore a suit made from soy fabric during this time, made car seat covers from soy. He believed very strongly in soy and promoted soy fuel as well as soy fabric. There was also a soy stuffing material. Fascination with and use of soy materials declined during World War ll.
Unfortunately, none of the fibers in my shawl are soy. Perhaps if I had realized that it would remind me of this summer's soy fields and crop I would have searched to find a soy yarn to include in it.