The ultimate guide to sustainable yarn – Organic, recycled and Fair-Trade cotton and wool

Sustainable yarnBeing sustainable is no longer dull, stuffy, and only for ‘socks and sandals’ types. Much like crochet and knitting, sustainability is firmly back on trend, and should concern everyone! Read through this information-packed blog post and transform yourself into a true expert in the field of sustainable yarn. We will tell you all about fair-trade, recycled and organic cotton and wool. We hope to inspire you with gorgeous yarns that have been produced responsibly with consideration for humans, animals and the environment. This way you can spend countless hours crocheting and knitting responsibly with a clear conscience. Sounds perfect, right?

Sustainable yarn - Before we can explore the world of sustainable cotton, wool and blended yarns, we first need to establish what ‘sustainable’ means at all. The terms ‘organic’ and ‘sustainable’ are often used interchangeably, but is this correct? Let’s find out!

Difference between organic and sustainable yarn 
When people, the environment and the economy are in balance, then you can call something sustainable. So, a sustainable yarn is made in a way that does not deplete the earth’s resources. An organic yarn is a yarn produced without the use of chemical pesticides, making sure that the quality of agricultural land and animal welfare are maintained. Organic farmers, therefore, pay close attention to everything that happens on their own land, while with sustainable production, the complete impact on the whole earth is considered.

So, the answer is no, not necessarily! If a yarn is ‘sustainable’ then it is also typically ‘organic’, but not necessarily the other way around.

To know for certain whether an item of clothing or fabric has truly been sustainably or organically produced, various quality standards have been established. Here we look at 3 marks/logos which you can find on yarn labels. They tell you that the yarn meets a certain quality standard.

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 GOTS 
If the GOTS mark is on the label, you can be sure that the yarn in your hands is sustainable. And not just sustainable,
but also organic and fair-trade! The Global
Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is an international certification developed to promote the manufacture of organically grown fibers into sustainable textiles and yarns. A yarn is only awarded a GOTS certification once it meets
all the standard’s strict requirements. The environmental and social conditions throughout the entire manufacturing
process are considered.
This includes ensuring that
no toxic chemicals are
used and that factories use sustainable
waste water systems and
are energy efficient.
Workers must receive a fair wage and have safe and
hygienic working conditions. Child labor is of course prohibited.
OEKO-TEX
If a yarn has the OEKO-TEX Standard 100 mark, then the product does not contain any harmful substances. The OEKO-TEX is a testing and certification for textiles. OEKO-TEX has not just one but several standard certifications for different product classes relating to environmental friendliness and use. The closer the product comes into contact with the skin, and the more sensitive the skin, the stricter the requirements. If a yarn is awarded the
OEKO-TEX mark with class I (the highest class), then the yarns are safe for contact with the most sensitive skin, and therefore suitable for babies’ skin.
Furthermore, OEKO-TEX certifies that the yarn has been produce in an environmentally- and human-friendly way. The yarn is dyed using ecological dyes and workers have good working conditions without being exposed to harmful substances.
Recycled
 If a yarn is made with recycled materials, there is (usually) a recycle symbol on the label. The Global Recycled Standard is awarded to a yarn (or other product) when the recycled materials in the yarn meet the required social, ecological, and chemical impact of production standards.



Looking at the yarns that have been manufactured with respect for people, animals and the environment, we can divide them into 4 categories: sustainable, organic, recycled and fair-trade. We look at each category in turn below, beginning with cotton yarns, then ending with wool yarns. 

Sustainable yarns with the GOTS certificate

These yarns meet all the strict requirements necessary for the GOTS standard, and so are sustainable through and through. The cotton used is of course produced organically. The production process is set up in such a way that it does not deplete the earth’s resources, while also making sure that the working conditions of the workers meet all requirements. The following sustainable yarns are made from 100% organic cotton and are also fair-trade!

 Fair-Cotton Katia Fair Cotton  | GOTS 
If we had to score this yarn in terms of sustainability (1 = poor to 10 = perfect), then Katia Fair Cotton (and Katia Fair Cotton Craft) would get 10+! This yarn scores high in all aspects (sustainable, organic and fair-trade). This yarn has of course achieved the GOTS standard with flying colors. This yarn is perfect for airy summer projects.
 Fair-Cotton-Craft Katia Fair Cotton Craft | GOTS
This yarn scores just as highly in terms of sustainability as Fair Cotton (see the yarn above). This beautiful gradient yarn is perfect for colorful, airy summer clothing and accessories.
 A-mano Lana Grossa Linea Pura A Mano | GOTS
This colorful yarn has a beautiful wavy matte thread. A Mano is perfect for knitting and crocheting lovely projects with a mixed color effect.
 Fourseasons Lana Grossa Linea Pura Fourseason | GOTS 
This luxury yarn is not only made from organic cotton, but also from wool and cashmere. The addition of cashmere makes this yarn wonderfully soft.
 Organico Lana Grossa Linea Pura Organico | GOTS
Organico is highly versatile! Use it to knit and crochet baby and children’s clothing, cuddly toys and amigurumi, accessories, such as scarves, and home décor items, including throw blankets and cushions! You can choose from a fabulous range of striking matte colors.
 ecocotton Phildar Phil Ecocoton | GOTS
A comfortable round yarn with a matte look. Use this soft organic cotton yarn to crochet and knit clothing for yourself and the kids.
Katia Ultrasoft Organic Yarn  

Katia Concept Ultrasoft | GOTS
This organic cotton has earned several certificates! It is wonderfully voluminous and warm, but also nice and airy because the cotton 'breathes'. It is ideal for crocheting and knitting both summer and winter items.

 

Organic cotton

Biologisch Organic cotton yarn can be divided into 2 categories: organic cotton which is OEKO-TEX certified, and cotton that is blended with lyocell and therefore organic.

  • Organic cotton with the OEKO-TEX mark  

DMC Natura
DMC natura Just CottonDMC Natura Medium | DMC Natura XL
These 100% combed cotton yarns have been awarded class I by the OEKO-TEX standard. This means that the yarns are super skin-friendly and therefore ideal for crocheting and knitting baby clothing.

 DMC natura bamboo | OEKO-TEX
This special blend of cotton and bamboo ensures that the yarn is wonderfully light and airy. It also means that Natura Bamboo is temperature-regulating, gentle on sensitive skin, and machine washable for easy care. This makes it perfect for baby and children’s clothing and accessories.
Natura-Bamboo
 DMC Natura Linen | OEKO-TEX
This yarn is deliciously light and airy owing to its blend of linen, viscose and cotton. DMC Natura Linen is therefore ideal for making summer clothing.
 DMC Natura-Linen
SMC Catania | OEKO-TEX
Catania is a popular crochet cotton with which to responsibly crochet toys and clothing for your kids. You have a choice of no fewer than 108 colors!
Catania

 

  • Organic cotton with lyocell (Tencel)
    Lyocell (also known by the brand name Tencel) is artificially produced but from a natural material (wood). The fibers are made from wood chippings that come from trees grown in sustainable, managed forests. Not only is lyocell organic, but it is as soft and supple as silk.
Katia Tencel-Cotton
This yarn consists of 67% lyocell and 33% cotton. Tencel-Cotton has a nice smooth, soft structure, wicks away moisture and regulates temperature! Perfect for making items of clothing for babies, children and adults.
 Katia Tencel-Cotton

 



Recycled cotton

The yarns below are made from recycled cotton!

 Hoooked Ribbon XL -

Hoooked Ribbon XL | Gerecycled
This chunky and robust textile yarn is made from 100% recycled fibers. 80% of this is recycled cotton. Use RibbonXL to crochet or knit sturdy, chunky projects. Ideal for home decorations, including rugs, baskets, bags and throws.

 Phildar Ecojean -

Phildar Phil Ecojean | Gerecycled
A high-quality yarn made from 100% recycled cotton fibers with a pleasing stonewashed jean look. This yarn meets all the requirements of the Global Recycle Standard, which certifies that it is sustainably produced.

 Katia Love-Denim -

Katia Love Denim | Gerecycled
This yarn consists of recycled cotton and is available in a selection of rugged denim colors.

 somen Hoooked Somen
A airy yarn with a strong thread made from recycled cotton and linen. It feels wonderfully soft and cool with a low-stretch texture. Hoooked Somen is ideal for crocheting and knitting clothing, accessories, and babywear!
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Plant-based yarns

There are almost no yarns made from 100% plant-based materials (cotton aside, of course). Fortunately, this is changing and Hoooked Eucalyps is already on the market. As the name suggests, this gorgeous ball is made from eucalyptus! And who knows? Maybe more yarns will be added to this category soon. We hope so!

Hoooked Eucalyps
A sustainable 100% plant-based yarn made from eucalyptus with a lovely subtle sheen. Hoooked Eucalyps has a thin, smooth thread, feels wonderfully soft, and is highly absorbent. Ideal for crochet or knitting clothing and accessories. The yarn is available in a delightful range of uni colors.
Eucalyps


Organic wool

Organic wool is made from the wool of (merino) sheep. The sheep are treated respectfully and raised in comfortable living conditions. The manufacturing process takes the environment into account. There are also alternative organic materials which are used to make wool, such as lyocell and hemp.

 Katia Tencel-merino Katia Tencel-Merino
A thin and light glossy yarn made from lyocell and merino wool. This exclusive blend makes the yarn supple, soft, and, at the same time, warm.
 Lana Grossa Canapa Lana Grossa Slow Wool Canapa
A soft yet robust yarn made from a blend of merino wool and hemp fibers. The hemp is ecologically grown, and the merino wool comes from healthy, well-tended sheep. The addition of hemp gives a subtle tweed effect to projects made with Slow Wool Canapa.
 Lana Grossa Slow-Wool-lino Lana Grossa Slow Wool Lino
A blended yarn made from felt-free merino wool and linen. The linen is ecologically cultivated, and the merino wool comes from healthy, well-tended sheep. This yarn consists of 85% virgin merino wool and 15% linen.

 

Fair trade wool 

All yarns from the brand Manos Del Uruguay are hand-spun by ‘the hands of Uruguay’! Manos del Uruguay was founded in 1968 with the purpose of improving the quality of life of women living in Uruguay. Using knowledge passed down from mothers and grandmothers, and traditional wool production techniques, the ladies of Manos del Uruguay make gorgeous fair-trade yarn. As of 2009, Manos del Uruguay is a certified member of the WFTO (World Fair Trade Organization), in recognition of more than 40 years of continuous sustainable and social work. This hand-spun yarn comes from local merino sheep and undergoes extensive quality control. The yarn is dyed with vibrant dyes to create unique, colorful shades. The various yarns from the collection are highlighted individually below. Check out all the yarns from Manos Del Uruguay

  • Manos Del Uruguay Alegria
    75% merino wool, 25% polyamide. The yarn feels very soft and the lovely color gradient creates an extra special effect.
  • Manos Del Uruguay Clara
    A beautiful delicate yarn made from 100% merino wool. The matte finish and slight variations in thickness of the thread give your projects a natural look. The stunning watercolor hues and light-weight feel make this Clara yarn extra special.
  • Manos Del Uruguay Marina
    A superb, thin, colorful yarn made from 100% merino wool. The yarn feels super soft and the intense colors make it ideal for creating fabulous projects.
  • Manos Del Uruguay Fino
    Fino combines a luxurious blend of fibers with a large number of meters on the ball, enough to create gorgeous, delicate, wearable items. The balls are hand-dyed in large kettles which gives them their fantastic, intense colors with a subtle variegated effect. 70% merino wool, 30% silk.

  • Manos Del Uruguay Milo
    The yarn is a blend of 65% merino wool and 35% linen and provides a rustic yet sophisticated look. The raw fibers with the elegant shimmer of the linen make it ideal for creations with a soft, natural appearance.
  • Manos Del Uruguay Serpentina
    A lovely cheerful yarn made from 100% hand-spun merino wool. The yarn is super soft, and the large variety of colors makes it suitable for all kinds of delightful projects.
  • Manos del Uruguay Maxima
    A super soft, thick yarn made from 100% merino wool with subtle color nuances.

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