Wool, my (old) love. It’s warm yet cool, comes in soft AND itchy varieties (meaning you can knit for your friends and enemies with only one fiber!), and can be easily dyed into beautiful colors. Plus, sheep are adorable.
But… I’m vegan.
What’s a wool loving vegan to do in this dilemma? Well, there’s really only one answer… find other yarn!
There’s a 3 step process to become a vegan knitter. As a designer, I was worried that cutting wool out of my yarn diet would make publishing patterns more difficult. After researching all the cruelty-free yarn options out there, I’ve realized that this whole “vegan designer” thing could really work to my favor. Get ready to see awesome vegan-friendly knitting patterns!
Educate Yo’ Self.
Hearing me babble about myself cutting out wool won’t do anything for you, right? You need to find your own “why”. Otherwise, that yarn store selling limited edition handpainted merino will seem pretty appealing. Try watching a film like Earthlings, or reading information about how wool is obtained.
Why would you want to stop using wool? Here’s a quick list.
1. You can knit year round.
Wool can often be way too hot to knit with in the summer. With yarns like hemp, linen, and cotton, you can keep cool in summer but still knit comfy, drapey garments.
2. It’s more earth friendly.
As long as you stay away from acrylic and unsustainable cotton, it’s earth friendly. Yarns like recycled banana silk, upcycled sweater yarn, and linen paper make mother earth happier!
3. No more itch.
Almost all plant based yarns are soft as a lamb. The scratchiest yarn you can get it dish cloth cotton, but even that’s soft! Imagine knitting with silk…all the time!
4. It’s cheaper.
Knitting with soy yarn gives you the same feel and warmth as cashmere, for half the price! Banana silk is definitely less expensive, making it feasible to create the silk sweater you’ve always dreamed of. If you do choose to use acrylic, even high-quality synthetic yarns are friendly to that yarn budget you never follow.
5. It’s Ethical.
Honestly, I didn’t really care whether wool was itchy (I always bought soft wool!), and I liked spending pocket money on yarn. What made me switch to a cruelty-free stash was that the creation of wool just isn’t ethical. “Commercially owned” sheep are treated terribly, kicked and even killed when they struggle to get away from their rough, uncaring Shearer. I won’t get graphic here, but it’s a rough world for our wooly friends out there.
Does this mean I’ll never buy sustainable wool from farmers I know treat their sheep well? No. Unlike “humanely raised” meat, dairy, silk, leather, and eggs, it actually is possible to get humane wool. Although sheep were modified and bred not to self-shed, if a loving person who has sheep as pets decide to sell fleece or yarn from that sheep, I’m OK with it. Sheep that are bred not to self-shed need to get sheered and that wool can be either thrown out or used. I like the second option better.
Make Yarn Money.
I know that most people can’t just drop their bills and build a vegan stash. Luckily, you already have a nice bit of money to do so. You just have to “liquify” it.
Go through your whole stash and separate it into four piles. Pile one will be for yarns that are unused, with the ball band. Pile two is for scraps and mini skeins. Pile three is for unlabeled yarns, and pile four is for vegan yarn.
Once you’ve got your piles, put the vegan yarn back into your stash. Take notice of what is used, and what isn’t. We’ll look at this pile in the next step. Take pile three and put it into a box. Do the same for pile 1 and 2.
Wait for a nice, cloudy but not rainy day and take your first box outside. Take pictures of your unused yarns, grouping by “lots” of the same yarn. Now, got to Ravelry and list these yarns for sale. You can also use a destashing service. Store these in plastic bags somewhere safe. All that’s left is to wait for orders and ship out the yarn!
Take pile two, and wind all of your scraps and random mini skeins into balls. Group them into rainbows or piles of colors that just go well together. Make sure that the piles consist of yarn o the same weight. Create magic balls out of these. You can then sell the magic balls on Etsy, Shopify, or even Ravelry!
You have two options for pile three. You can have a
yarn yard sale and sell it off, or donate it to a knitting organization or a salvation army.
Keep your money from your yarn selling to buy vegan yarns. Eventually, you’ll have an inspiring vegan yarn stash.
My Favorite Vegan Yarns
The majority of vegan yarns out there won’t act like wool, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Take this new knitting lifestyle change as a way to experience new types of awesome yarns. I, however, can be a creature of habit. These are some of my vegan yarn go-to’s.
- South West Trading Company has lots of vegan yarn options. You do have to check that it’s not a wool blend, but overall they definitely carry things like cotton, bamboo, and even soy silk. The Oasis yarn is 100% vegan and beautiful!
I found out about SWTC from @A2Jane on Twitter. Thanks for the help!
2. If you think you don’t like knitting with cotton when you feel this Juniper Moon cotton yarn, your life will be changed (I’m not sure if it’s for the better…). It’s a super soft bulky yarn perfect for hats, sweater, and blankets.
3. I’m sure you’ve heard of the ever famous Euro Flax, but it really is a great yarn. It’s the luxury yarn of plant fibers- soft, silky, high quality, and…err…expensive.
4. If you’re looking for an awesome sock yarn, check out Schachenmayr Tahiti. It’s a versatile yarn- strong enough for socks but delicate enough for shawls and wraps. The stitch definition means cabled socks will look amazing knit up in it. Bamboo yarn is also very good for socks.
5. Hand spun yarn is doable with vegan fibers. If you want to spin something similar to wool, check out Vegan Yarn’s “vegan cashmere” fiber. It’s beautiful.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to rebuilding your stash into a cruelty-free, inspiring knitting haven.
Are you vegan? What are your favorite vegan fibers? Let me know in the comments below!