As Fashion Revolution Week has come and gone, one incredibly important conversation has continued to stick with me - is sustainable fashion synonymous with affluence? Can only those with expendable income join in the fight to save the planet when it comes to fashion choices? I can easily see how this is a growing issue, and when it comes to knitting, it's not any different. Yarn is not cheap. Good quality yarn is definitely not cheap.
As a dyer, I can see the side where I'm literally not being fully compensated for the work it takes to provide naturally-dyed and ethical wool, because the price tag would be very exclusive. I run in a range similar to an average indie dyer. But I know that more people can have access to pure wool. When I first started knitting, I found some great resources because I didn't want to contribute to the acrylic fad. Acrylic is made from non-renewable resources, and will take up to 400 years to biodegrade, whereas wool is fully biodegradable and obviously from a very renewable resource (sheep!). So, what options are there?
When I first started knitting, Knit Picks was my paradise. They do have superwash and acrylic skeins, but they also have so much more! There are several different lines and weight of pure non-superwash wool, even bare skeins if you'd like to dye your own!
Some knitters don’t like the smaller balls because that means more ends to weave in, but if it means I’m really saving on yarn and can get more bang for my buck, sign me up (and I REALLY hate weaving in ends). Between $3 - $8 per 50g ball. And currently, free shipping on your first order if you sign up for their newsletter.
There are so many non-superwash fibers of all different weights on the Drops site. Plenty of pure wool, as well as alpaca and mohair and other blends (it's really so impressive!). I’ve knit socks with some of their fingering weight and it was so nice to work with - I’m planning on making some baby booties out of the leftovers! They run from $3 - $8 per 50g ball (so again, smaller skeins), and the shipping was very reasonable.
Don't count out a brand who tends to bleed acrylic. They have one particular yarn, Fisherman's Wool, that I love. It's what I made one of my very first hats out of. It's rustic feeling, and yes, maybe a smidge more on the costly side ($12.99/skein), but the yardage is significant at 465 yards in worsted. That's only roughly three you'll need for a sweater, and even then, you're paying Target prices for the whole thing! But keep in mind that it's often sold at places like JoAnn fabrics - you know, the craft stores that loooove to send out coupons on coupons. So you can get a great deal!
And really, when you think about it, if you support a primarily acrylic-based brand by creating demand for their wool products, you're letting them know that you're putting in a vote for sustainability with your dollars.
Patons is another great option that is sold in big box coupon-loving craft stores. You can even get pure wool in sock weight yarn (whoop!), and in super fun colorways. I love using their roving, which was $6,99/skein for about 150 yards, for bulky projects because holy cannoli, bulky yarn (especially in pure wool) is very expensive.
I really wanted to include a smaller, US-based company to this list. Brown Sheep is located in Mitchell, Nebraska, and they do have some superwashes, but they also have a lot of natural fiber-based yarns. Even their Lamb's Pride worsted is 85% wool/15% mohair, and those skeins run at about $10.99/skein (depending on your local yarn shop's prices - though I also found some on Amazon for myself). And for those of you who love yarns that aren't super uniform (thick and thin), they are your guy.
While prices are just a smidge more "up there" for this particular company, you are supporting an American company that is committed to sustainability in their processes. I really admire them for the work that they're doing.
These brands are just 5 I can easily think of off the top of my head, but I feel like they are solid and accessible. They all even offer free patterns on their sites! But if you have any additional favorites you would love to share, please add your suggestions in the comments below!