Organic Cotton and Wool Yarn for Eco Knitting

Easy ways to give back to the environment one stitch at a time.

| January/February 2007

  • Homemade knits created from natural yarns are healthier for babies and the earth.
    Photo by Stephen Jessup

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.

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