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Vegan Knitting and Crochet Yarns

March 29, 2010
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Vegan 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!

Vancouver

Homecraft Importers
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.

Urban Yarns
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.

Toronto

Romni Wools

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.

Seattle

The Fiber Gallery

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)?

EarthFriendly Yarns

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.

Online Stores

Simply Socks Yarn Company

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.

Darn Good Yarn

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.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2010 4:30 pm

    I’m not new to knitting, but I didn’t know about chitin! And I’m usually good at researching things. D’oh. Thanks for the heads up and for a great post!

  2. March 30, 2010 4:38 pm

    Thanks for the comment, Kelly 🙂

    I haven’t seen chitin too often in yarns, but with the trend toward using more naturally-sourced materials in yarns I think chitin could show up more often.

    Had it not been for learning about chitin in high school (a very long time ago, mind you), I would never have known what it was. I learned that it has been used as an abrasive ingredient in toothpastes, among other products, and I’ve always been grossed out by that. Only once have I seen it listed in toothpaste ingredients, and that was several years ago.

  3. June 19, 2010 7:02 pm

    Thanks for info!

  4. Steff Z permalink
    August 12, 2011 4:48 pm

    Chitin is also a major structural component of mushrooms and yeasts, so it’s possible that some chitin could be vegan. I do not know whether any chitin being produced now is made from only non-animal sources.
    I am longing for the day when plastic bottles and other plastic doohickies are made from biodegradable chitin, instead of plastic.

  5. September 28, 2011 6:16 pm

    greensheepshop.com is another fantastic online resourse, you may want to add them to your list above – just found them, they’re fantastic.

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