The Compassionate Knitter’s Guide to Vegan Yarns

Posted by 2 years ago | Permalink | Comments (14)

Kelly Yarn StoreEveryone knows that knitting isn’t just for grannies anymore – since the crafting revolution hit these shores, the gentle click of knitting needles can be heard up and down the country, as people of all ages crochet, stitch and purl their way to beautiful handmade items. But if you love knitting and animals, you’ll want to make sure that your hobby doesn’t come at someone else’s expense.

As PETA US’ shocking recent exposé highlighted, the worldwide wool industry cruelly abuses millions of sheep a year. Angora wool is often produced by ripping the hair from rabbits’ skin as they scream in pain, while goats and llamas suffer for fabrics such as mohair, cashmere and alpaca. Luckily, there’s another way – vegan yarn!

We caught up with Kelly, who runs the excellent UK-based Vegan Yarn Store. Here, she talks us through some of her favourite non-animal wools and explains which type of projects they’re best suited for.

Sock Yarn Vegan yarn made from bamboo, cotton and nylon
Let’s face it – knitters love making socks. For vegan knitters, Panda Sock Yarn is the answer to our prayers! It’s made up of bamboo, cotton and nylon, so it’s soft and durable, with the right amount of flexibility for feet.

Banana Yarn Renewable and long-lasting vegan yarn Banana yarn is a soft and extremely durable fibre which has the added benefit of being a renewable resource. The yarn is made from the decaying outer layers of banana tree bark, which is scraped away and then soaked, pulped and spun into yarn. Its weight and strength make it perfect for accessories such as bags, while its softness also means that it’s great for everything from scarves to cardigans.

Cotton Yarn Lightweight vegan yarn Cotton is often seen as a summer yarn by knitters, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Cotton can be just as warm and cosy as animal yarns, especially when blended with other fibres such as acrylic or bamboo. One particular warm cotton yarn is Aslan Trends Lecco, which is knit up on 6mm needles and is perfect for colder seasons. Cotton also has the added benefit of being great for crochet, especially for granny/afghan blankets. The brands Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding offer a range of cotton yarns in a variety of weights and colours that are perfect for any season.

Chunky Yarns
Chunky vegan yarn
Chunky yarns are a joy for lazy knitters/crocheters and those who want to work on a quick and satisfying project. Vegans can improvise their own chunky yarns by holding two strands of the same colour yarn together and knitting on larger needles. Alternatively, some great chunky yarns – such as DY Choice’s Chunky Chain, which knits up on an impressive 12mm needle – are available for those of us who eschew animal products.

Bamboo Yarns Bamboo/Rayon Vegan Yarn Silky smooth bamboo (sometimes also called rayon) is processed from the inner fibres of the bamboo plant and is a dream to knit with. Its texture is wonderful in its own right as well as when used in blends. Often, when it’s blended with cotton, you can get a similar texture and drape as when you use animal fibres such as merino or alpaca (but without the cruelty). Two great 100 per cent bamboo yarns are Rad Rayon and Bellatrix Laceweight, or for an exceptional cotton/bamboo blend, you could try Alnilam Worsted.


So there you have it – whether you’re working on socks, scarves, jumpers, hats or any other type of knitting project, there’s a perfect vegan yarn to match. All these yarns and others are available to order at www.VeganYarnStore.comKelly is even offering a generous 15 per cent discount to PETA supporters for the next two weeks. Simply use the discount code PETA15 when placing your order (offer expires on 31 October at 11:59pm). We’d also love to see your vegan knitting creations, so please feel free to tweet us a pic!


  • Mordanicus commented on October 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    >>Cotton can be just as warm and cosy as animal yarns

    The German word for cotton is baumwol or literally translated tree wool, said enough.

  • Joan Jordan commented on October 9, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Agreed all this suffering is totally wrong.

  • Jane Buckley commented on October 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I agree any animal suffering is so wrong and wicked

  • Christina Olson commented on October 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Agreed. Have become more and more aware of the “behind the scenes” reality of yarn fibers. Yes I am a yarn fanatic, but not at the expense of animals. I’ve used bamboo before and it’s divine! No more animals for me! Time to expand my horizons!

  • Rusty commented on October 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Cruelty to animals in not acceptable.

  • Angela Gould commented on December 3, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    I have lived over 30 years in amongst a sheep farming community, the sheep and their lands. I have been a vegetarian/vegan all that time since watching how the animals are treated.
    I love the idea of vegan yarn.
    I would like a discussion on weaving wool however. I am aware that wool can literally be collected from the places where sheep themselves rub the wool off against the fencing – but also against the trees or walls etc You can end up with quite an amount BUT it does take time. I suppose it could be woven in with vegan yarn though – which may even add to the warmth. It might be quite an interesting result.

    Is Persian Lamb wool still being produced? This is where the pregnant ewe is slaughtered to get at the foetus whose ‘wool’ is obviously so very soft and smooth AND expensive. Can PETA inform people about this product please.

  • Tamaresque commented on December 9, 2014 at 3:04 am

    But the nylon in these so called Vegan yarns are a problem too because they are polluting the oceans.
    And the nylon is a very un-eco process which includes any of the non-cotton fibres like bamboo & banana.
    Cotton is the only real alternative but unless it’s grown organically it uses HUGE amounts of pesticide and also HUGE amounts of water.
    So I’ll stick to wool from ethical producers, thank you.

    • Tamaresque commented on December 9, 2014 at 3:06 am

      Sorry, that should read ‘Rayon is a very un-eco process’. Look it up. I studied it as part of a fashion design course I did last year.

  • Helga Riekeles commented on December 12, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    Thank you for your information,this is worse than I would like to admit. So, for our future, to keep up for our duty to be decent to nature, animals and our selves….keep to plants for survival , both for our food and clothes. When are we going to match ut that standard?….we have to!!!

    Thank you “Peta”, for your work!
    Greetings Helga Riekeles, Norway.

  • Nick commented on December 15, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Nylon – you’re promoting an oil based product as an alternative….better to campaign for ethically produced wool rather than products that use a finite and dwindling resource?
    Solutions need to be ethical and sustainable….

  • Wendy South commented on November 23, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    I am so glad there is alternative yarns that are not animal, has anyone felted with any of these?

  • Freya Violet Locke commented on October 22, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    As a small crochet business owner, I try very hard to only use cruelty free yarns, and am very impressed with this post, as rather than tell me what NOT to use, it pointed me in the direction of what TO use. Thank you, very good post.

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