It’s the season for crocheted raffia bags again, though in Singapore raffia bags are perfect the whole year round as they are structured, hardy yet lightweight & breathable. The airy texture of raffia complements casual breezy outfits like linens or cottons well; making them the perfect fibre for summer accessories.
I’ve worked with many types of raffia yarn and wanted to share my experiences - purely based on my own views (i.e. not sponsored!). First, though, what is raffia yarn?
Raffia is a fibre from the leaves on palm trees mainly found in Madagascar, and some parts of the Philippines as well. These long leaves are either sun-dried & bundled up (ending up in more brittle, shorter natural raffia “straws”), or ground-up and processed to create a smoother, continuous fibre (called ‘wood pulp’, ‘cellulose’, or ‘viscose’) which is friendlier to crochet with. Raffia is hence a “plant-based” fibre and is natural, biodegradable and sustainable.
If you’re looking for a easy crochet bag pattern that has an interesting stitch detail, check out this Mori Bag Crochet Pattern (byiroiro) that works out beautifully in raffia, such as :
Ra-Ra Raffia (Wool and the Gang)
Composition : 100% paper
Suggested Hook Size : 3.5-5mm
Review : Seriously top-notch quality stuff, and the colours (though limited) are always beautiful. I find that items made in this raffia tend to last better. And did I mention that its addictive to crochet with this stuff? Con : it does tend to be expensive and the shipping to SG is rather high as well.
Source : woolandthegang
Ispie (Yafit) Raffia / 一线一品棉草拉菲(Etsy sellers, taobao)
Composition : Rayon
Suggested Hook Size : 2.5-3.5mm
Review : The colour ranges are simply amazing, from matte pastels to very shiny metallics. I find that the yarn tends to vary in thicknesses even within a cone, and the colours that you see online tend to be a bit hit-and-miss. It is, however, extremely cost-efficient, and very versatile raffia. Con : I find that items do not last as long and the yarn becomes prone to friction & breakage at certain points (e.g. shoulder straps).
Source : Hamanaka
Composition : 100% Rayon (Wood Pulp)
Suggested Hook Size : 3-4mm
Review : Superb uniformity, quality and colour range. This raffia yarn has masses of crochet patterns & books to support it - just head to Kinokuniya or search online and you will find tons of patterns for eco-andaria. It’s different from Wool and the Gang raffia in that this is a rayon-based raffia, and so is thinner, softer, and has a shiny appearance. It is also extremely easy to work with this raffia as it is the most pliable of the lot.
Composition : Both viscose & paper raffia
Suggested Hook Size : 3.5-5mm
Review : My favourite source for raffia yarn, Muscraft carries several types of raffia yarns that are made in Taiwan. Their colours and photography are always beautiful, so its a pleasure to surf the site. My favourite is this product called 和色拉菲 which is a 100% wood pulp raffia, with soft muted colours, that is slightly softer than the Wool and the Gang raffia, and is apparently washable!
There are also several other interesting raffia brands from Korea that I’ve yet to try out - do leave me a comment below if you’ve tried any!