If you're knitting winter woolies, why not dip your needles into organic yarns? Increasingly, organic cottons and wools are available in yarn shops or on the Internet. Here's what you need to know to cast on without chemicals.
Bah-bah black sheep
Most conventional wool products are treated with chemicals, including alkaline baths (to remove dirt and grease), acid baths (to remove vegetable matter), bleach, dye, mothproofing and fire retardant.
Organic wool: Produced from the fleece of animals reared on organically farmed, pesticide-free land. The yarn is washed using vegetable-based soaps and oils; no chemicals are used to bleach or treat it.
Undyed fleece yarn: Organic wool yarns that get their color from the natural shade of the sheep.
Cottoning to the idea
Organic cotton: Grown and harvested without agrochemicals.
Undyed organic cotton (or "natural" cotton): Some cotton is bred so the intensity of color comes from the cotton bud itself.
Naturally dyed: Wool or cotton blends colored using processes and plant pigments.
New and natural
You can also find eco-friendly yarns made from hemp; recycled cotton, rayon and silk; soybean fiber (from tofu-making byproduct); bamboo; and viscose (derived from tree pulp).
Earth Friendly Yarns
Garthenor Organic Pure Wool
Green Mountain Spinnery