In setting up the directory on Real Good Yarns I have made a decision to focus on the smaller suppliers of wool and yarn. This is primarily as I want to support the smaller, independent producers who don’t have the marketing budget, brand reputation and retail distribution of the larger brands. However, I think it would be unfair to exclude all of the big brands from Real Good Yarns.
My Favourite Big Brands
The following are some of the big brands I know of that are that are taking the extra steps to produce yarns that promote animal welfare, have a minimal impact on the environment and/or promote fair trade. The information I’ve obtained about them is mainly from their own websites.
For each supplier, I’ve provided a link to Love Knitting where you can purchase these yarns (if you purchase these yarns on Love Knitting after clicking these links I receive an affiliate fee of 5% or 15% percent depending on whether you’re an existing or new customer of Love Knitting).
If you have any comments on these yarns or their ‘real good’ credentials please let me know (and please let me know of other larger brands that deserve a mention).
Happy knitting, crocheting & weaving!
Debbie Bliss Eco Baby
Debbie Bliss is a knitwear designer with her own brand of yarns that are sold worldwide. She has one yarn that I believe fits the ‘real good’ credentials in so far as it goes the extra steps for the environment – Eco Baby. Eco Baby comes in both a solid colour (Eco Baby) and a tonal/multicoloured range (Eco Baby Prints). It is made from 100% organic, fair-trade cotton (certified by GOTS – Global Organic Textile Standard) and, as stated on the Debbie Bliss website, is created with special dyes that are “non-toxic, non-carcinogenic and non-allergenic”. As a side note, I’m researching the processes involved with dyeing yarns and will presumably find those that are toxic, carcinogenic and allergenic in my travels – a scary thought that I’ll update you on in future posts.
You can buy Eco Baby and Eco Baby Prints at Love Knitting:
Erika Knight is a knitwear and crochet designer, as well as the creator of her own eponymous yarn range. Her ethos, according to her website is “to support British manufacturing where possible, to promote sustainable, natural fibres and to celebrate traditional skills.” She states that all her yarns “are dyed with environmentally friendly dye stuffs to European standards” – again more on what this means in a later post on dyeing. Her four wool ranges are all sourced from British sheep. In addition she has a cotton yarn, sourced from India, and a linen yarn spun in Italy made from 85% is recycled rayon-linen fibre and 15% linen.
You can buy Erika Knight’s wool collection at Love Knitting – Erika Knight
Malabrigo is a family owned company in Uruguay who have developed a range of beautiful hand-dyed yarns. They started hand-dyeing yarn in the kitchen in 2005 and have now expanded and own 2 mills (one in Uruguay and one in Peru). They have a focus on being environmentally friendly e.g. they have a flat-plate thermal heating system to decrease the environmental footprint at their mill, use the power of the sun to heat the water tanks and use as little water and as few chemicals as possible. Whilst they do have a Superwash process (I’ll write more about this in a future post), it does meet Oeko-Tex standards. The downside is that there’s inevitably a carbon impact as all yarns need to be shipped from Uruguay.
Malabrigo mostly employ women of all ages, and always try to give job opportunities to people that have fewer opportunities than the average. Their wool is 100% produced by Uruguayan farms that allow their sheep to go free-range – the practice of mulesing does not exist in Uruguay.
You can buy a selection of their yarn at Love Knitting – Malabrigo
Manos del Uruguay
Another Uruguayan supplier, Manos is a non-profit social organization which, since 1968, has provided jobs for craftswomen living in rural areas. Manos sells garments that are designed and knitted by its network of craftswomen as well as selling yarns to knitters, crocheters and weavers worldwide. A key part of Manos’ mission is to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic growth. In 2009 they acquired the World Fair Trade Organization trademark. The dyeing of their yarn is an artisanal process with small dye lots made in pots heated by wood fire or gas. After being dyed their yarns are sun-dried in the back yard. Each skein of yarn has a tag with the name of the artisan who made it and the co-operative’s location. I haven’t found information about the chemicals used in the dyeing process or the sourcing of their wool yet, however, have written to them and will update this post when I have more information on this.
You can buy Manos del Uruguay wool at Love Knitting – Manos del Uruguay
Wool and the Gang
In terms of promoting ethical, sustainable yarn in a modern, appealing way I think Wool and the Gang are doing a great job. Their aim is to pioneer fashion production made in a sustainable way by “bringing back knitting as a viable means of production for generations to come”. They pay careful attention to how their materials are sourced to reduce the environmental impact. Many of their yarns are produced in Peru (so some more air miles there). I think the most interesting of their yarns are the recycled/upcycled yarns such as their Jersey Be Good & Mix Tape yarn which are made from offcuts and scraps from fashion factories in Turkey. Then there’s the Billie Jean Yarn, made from denim remnants at denim mills, and Heal the Wool made up of the waste wool fibres from the spinning and dyeing process.
Crazy Sexy Wool, Sugar Baby Alpaca and Super Shiny Cotton are available at Love Knitting – Wool and the Gang. For other yarns go to the Wool and the Gang website.