Vegan Knitting and Crochet Yarns
Most vegans who are into knitting and crocheting know that Etsy is a helpful place to source vegan yarns. But Etsy isn’t the only place to find gorgeous cruelty-free skeins. There is a gold-mine of luscious plant-based and synthetic yarns supplied by plenty of small, independent stores. Here’s a run down of places I’ve discovered. Some of them I’ve been to, others I hope to get acquainted with sometime soon. I will add to this list as I discover new places along my travels, which will soon include Portland, San Francisco and New York, so keep posted!
In the spring and summer, this small Kitsilano shop rolls out yards of cotton, bamboo, soy and other plant-based and acrylic yarns (such as Phildar and Berrocco) with clearance sales beginning in the late summer to make way for their fall stock (which is mostly wool-based with some acrylics). They also have a large selection of embroidery floss from DMC and Anchor, as well as a decent selection of knitting needles. The ladies who staff the store have been knitting for years and are brimming with ideas and tips to help you with your projects.
Three Bags Full
This cute Main Street store offers a small selection of organic cotton yarns from PureLife, as well as gorgeous skeins of lightweight hemp from a Nelson, BC-based Hemp for Knitting. They offer several great classes, including spinning and “knitting helpline” classes where you can get help with virtually anything.
Located along West 10th Avenue at Trimble Street, this amazing store (soon to relocate to a larger space) is packed with luscious plant-based yarns and some gorgeous acrylic yarns. They offer a beautiful skeins of organic and free-trade cottons, and will even spin your skeins into balls while you peruse the store. There’s a large selection of books, patterns, and knitting notions available, including high-end “collector” type needles. The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable.
A Touch of Wool
In addition to a selection of vegan-friendly yarns, this south Dunbar shop offers good quality sewing thread, other sewing items, and a good selection of DMC embroidery floss.
This huge, packed to the ceilings Queen Street West Store can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But it’s packed with a number of vegan-friendly wools, as well as needles and pattern books. Be prepared to spend at least an hour exploring the yarn piles, aisles and maneuvering in small spaces. And bring your self-control – it’s easy to go a bit yarn ga-ga in this place.
This small store located on North Greenwood Avenue neat Woodland Park and Green Lake carries an excellent selection of yarns and books, as well as offering a great space for classes. It houses the very vegan-friendly EarthFriendly Yarns store (see below) and just happens to be a mere 6 minutes way from the always awesome Mighty O Donuts shop. What could be better than daydreaming over your new stash and munching away on a vegan donut or two (or three)?
Located inside The Fiber Gallery, this store also has a great website that you can order from. EarthFriendly Yarns offers the most amazing selection of vegan-friendly yarns I’ve yet seen in one place. There’s organic cotton, super soft bamboo, luscious soy silk made from byproducts of tofu production, glowing banana silk made from banana tree fibers, hemp, corn, a coarse hemp-like aloo yarn (made from nettle plants), and recycled yarns. Some of the yarns are also fairly-traded. Some of the yarns can be expensive, but they are so worth the cost and such great quality.
My lovely friend Michelle pointed me in the direction of this great store, which has a huge selection of gorgeous cotton/elastine yarns perfect for sock knitting or projects that call for light, delicate yarns.
Amazing hues of banana silk yarns.
Note: for vegans new to knitting, watch out for “chitin” in your yarn. Chitin is a polymer similar to keratin that is commonly harvested from sea creatures, such as crabs, shrimp, lobsters, and possibly also from mollusks, squid and octopus. You may also see something called “seacell” in some yarns – this is a cellulose-based fiber derived from sea vegetables (aka seaweed). Many yarns include fur from mammals such as oxen, alpacas, rabbits, goats, and others using names you might not be familiar with. And many yarns include silk, which is almost always obtained by boiling silk worms alive in their cocoons. If in doubt about what’s in your yarns, ask store staff or look the yarn terms up on the Internet.