Do you know where your yarn comes from? Yarn consciousness is slowly making impressions on people as we see more recycled, eco-friendly, and charity-focused yarn brands fill the shelves. Check out these yarn providers who hand-dye, recycle, upcycle, and even support poverty with their wonderfully unique yarns.
I ran into this brand in a small knitting store in Madison. Based in Maine, Darn Good Yarn provides eco-friendly, fair-trade, child labor-free yarn. All of the yarn is recycled and eco-friendly materials, including recycled silk and recycled sari ribbon from Nepal and Northern India. The latter are hand-spun and dyed by women in Nepal, and the workers benefit from sales through Darn Good Yarn (the yarn label reads: “Reasonably priced, high-quality yarn that helps women in India and Nepal and gets rid of waste”). I bought some of the pulled silk yarn, and it has a lovely sheen and soft texture.
Darn Good Yarn also has newspaper yarn made from old newspapers - have you heard of it? There are some great tutorials, videos, and other resources about how to make your own. Check them out!:
The Mirasol Yarn Collection
This beautiful yarn is hand-dyed with natural, plant based dyes. The wool comes from coopworth sheep in small New England farms and backyard flocks. The fiber is spun at small mills and then dyed at Upton. The website features a wonderful description of both the yarn and the sheep - a very pleasant read! - and colorful pictures of the yarn.
Brambleberry Yarns also supplies natural, hand-dyed yarns. The colors are stunning and individually unique. For knitter gardeners, this is the site for you. She has a great, colorful blog with her knitting and gardening adventures.
The Nude Ewe (UK)
I am just tickled with their name - too funny! The Nude Ewe in a non-profit wool company whose wool comes from sheep in Bedfordshire nature conservation projects. Proceeds from sales then support those conservation efforts. The wool is naturally beautiful - undyed, unbleached, and unique.
Etsy also hosts numerous recycled, for-good yarn producers, and their work is incredible.
Northcott Wilson Artisans
This is one of my favorite Etsy finds. Previously a statistician, the shop owner switched to the fashion industry. However, traveling the world for a growing apparel company, she was struck by poor factory conditions overseas. Disturbed by the problems she saw and the lack of others seeking solutions, she left her job and founded this shop in 2006. Much of her work is made from recycled silk yarn, purchased from a from a women's collective in Kathmandu, and she sells the remaining fair trade yarn in his shop. By purchasing yarn from the women's collective, the women are able to support themselves and their children and they can pay for their children's' education. The yarns are beautiful - I wholeheartedly recommend this one!
Penelope's Fine Yarns
This great Etsy store features yarn recycled from thrift store sweaters. The yarn is mostly cashmere, silk, and merino. Most of the yarn is lave weight and comes in a wide variety of colors, all at very reasonable prices.
Another wonderful recycle yarn store on Etsy, Crafty Yarn features a wide variety of yarn, repurposed from previously knit items or hand-spun with scrap fiber.
Echo Yarn hosts many recycled yarns thrifted from secondhand sweaters. The store also offers a great opportunity to try free samples to make sure you are getting the yarn you really want.
Mike's T-shirt Yarn
You've probably heard of making t-shirt yarn or have done it yourself. This shop makes and sells it at affordable prices. It also supplies t-shirt yarn loops for crafting and t-shirt yarn hats and necklaces.
Don't forget that you can recycle your own yarn using old sweaters or thrift shop knits. Here are some guides for recycling yarn: