A skein of yarn makes all the difference. Sourced, spun, and dyed the right way, and it changes the look and feel of a piece whether it's woven, knit, or crocheted. Each of these brands produce yarn instilled with our ethos of ethical practices, thoughtful sourcing, and natural, sustainable materials.
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Any knitter worth her needles knows that a project begins with well-chosen yarn. Of course, there are many qualities consider: the yarn's weight (from fine to super bulky), its shape (as a hank, skein, or ball), the material fiber (natural or synthetic), and even the color (or dye lot)—all of which shape the outcome of your knit piece.
Choosing the right kind of yarn is very important. For beginners, it's recommended to use a medium worsted weight yarn. Look for light colors, which are easier to see in knit stitches, and wool, which is smooth and elastic. For advanced knitters, try your hand at finer cotton, mohair, and specialty yarns that call for experimentation. When shopping for knitting yarn, we recommend feeling it in your hands to get a better idea of its elasticity and material. With projects, do you prefer knitting with a pair of straight needles, double-pointed needles, or knitting in the round? Your existing tools and preference for certain projects can dictate the variety of yarn you use.
Over the years, our editors have tried and tested countless skeins in all manner of handmade projects: knit hats, scarves, baby accessories, and large blankets—small and large in scale. Every time, we gravitate to the same crafting ethos: ethical practices, natural fibers, beautiful colors, and superior quality. Time and time again, our editors look to certain producers of yarn for their innovations and trusted authority in the craft. Here are some of our favorite brands and the products we love. We trust them as much as we trust that they will deliver on their promise to you.
Photography: Echoview Yarn2 of 16
Echoview Fiber Mill
This spinning mill based in Weaverville, North Carolina, has always been dedicated to sustainability and simplified practices. (Fact: her facility is Gold LEED certified.) Founder Julie Jensen produces quality yarn using natural, locally-sourced fibers like wool, alpaca, and soft angora rabbit fur. The angora is from a small farm located about two hours from the mill.
Echoview "Bunnypaca" Yarn, in Ash, $30, echoviewnc.com.
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Jared Flood started Brooklyn Tweed as a blog for knitters in 2005. As he learned more about yarn production, he wanted to support domestic textile production—sourcing, dyeing, and spinning yarn in the USA. He collaborated with Harrisville Designs, a century-old wool mill in New Hampshire—and his first yarn, the worsted-weight Shelter, was a runaway success. They offer knitwear patterns and yarn blends of Targhee- and Columbia-bred fleeces, all sourced in the American west.
Brooklyn Tweed "Shelter" Yarn, in Birdbook, $13.75, brooklyntweed.com.
Photography: Courtesy of Purl Soho4 of 16
Combining heirloom-quality materials with a clean, modern style, Purl Soho sets trends in craft–making—and turning a new generation on to old-fashioned pastimes like knitting and sewing. They curate a thoughtful collection of yarn from around the world, including a line of their own making.
Purl Soho "Gentle Giant" Yarn, in Super Pink, purlsoho.com.
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Green Mountain Spinnery
In the knitting community, this small mill in rural Vermont has become synonymous with local sourcing and sustainability. Established in the late seventies, Green Mountain produces a range of beautiful selections in alpaca, mohair, wool, and organic cotton fibers—all sourced in the United States with an proclivity of New England.
Green Mountain Spinnery "Mewesic" Yarn, in Green-Eyed Lady, $15, spinnery.com.
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Photography: Manos Del Uruguay6 of 16
Manos del Uruguay
Since 1968, this non-profit organization has provided jobs for rural craftswomen living in Uruguay and throughout the world. All of their yarn is certified by the World Fair Trade Organization. Handspun and hand painted, this 100-percent merino wool comes in many colors and each one is named after an accomplished woman in history.
Manos Del Uruguay "Fino" Yarn, in Corsage, $31, fairmountfibers.com.
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Do a doubletake: This yarn is not paper but 100 percent linen. The name "habu" comes from the name of a snake unique to Okinawa, which also happens to be the origin of these natural yarn fibers. Dyed in kasuri, these yarns have a crisp, ikat-type feel to them in the fabrics created.
Habu "N-113 Variegated Shosenshi Paper" Yarn, $53, habutextiles.com.
Photography: Woolfolk8 of 16
Kristin Ford designed her collection of wool yarn with architect's sensibility including Tynd, a 2-ply fingering weight. The fiber used, Ultimate Merino, pills less while retaining softness. A purchase of this yarn supports Ovis 21 and her work with ranchers in the Patagonian Grasslands.
Woolfolk "Tynd" Yarn, in Color 09, $19, woolfolkyarn.com.
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Blue Sky Fibers
True to the source, this yarn line began with a small herd of alpacas in Linda Niemeyer's backyard. Based in Minneapolis, each skein is made of high-quality natural fibers including premium wool, silk, cashmere, and (the fiber of its namesake origin) luxurious baby alpaca.
Blue Sky Fibers "Royal Fingering" Yarn, in Seaglass, $24, blueskyfibers.com.
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Fluffy, lightweight, and a touch slubby, Amy Small's yarn is the stuff of imagination. Her signature variety, named Gypsy Garden, is a dreamy spin of wool, mohair, and sparkling Angelina fibers that are embellished with ribbons and lace, flower appliques, and novelty trims. Each skein is handspun by one of 13 women in India who are supported through this US-based small business.
Knit Collage "Gypsy Garden" Yarn, in Stardust, $40, knitcollage.com.
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This painterly palette of happy, warm hues is the result of exquisite hand-dying by Amy Hendrix of Madelinetosh. Her yarn is dyed by hand in Texas from wool ethically sourced in South Africa.
Madelinetosh "Prairie Lace" Yarn, in Light Across the Grasses, $24.50, madelinetosh.com.
Photography: Courtesy of Loopy Mango12 of 16
Photography: Alchemy13 of 16
With luster and lighter-than-air softness, this yarn is nothing short of magic: hence its name. Based in Northern California, Alchemy conjures up a dozen different varieties of yarn that is painted by hand (in an electric rainbow of colors) then steamed over an open fire.
Alchemy "Haiku" Yarn, in Cornflower Blue, $31.40, alchemyyarns.com.
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Koigu Wool Designs
What started as a family project on a small farm in Toronto, Koigu Wool signature hand-dyed yarn is a favorite among knitters. This DK weight yarn is tightly spun into a crêpe, which increases the natural elasticity and loft of the merino—ideal for garments and accessories such as sweaters, skirts, hats, and scarves.
Koigu "Kersti" Yarn, in K1521 Solid, $15, koigu.com.
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Jocelyn J. Tunney yarns are a reflection of her dedication to local and environmentally-sound production practices. All of her yarn uses certified organic fibers to improve washability, preventing shrinkage and felting. They're dyed in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, and spun in one of three mills located just outside of Boston.
O Wool "O-Wash Worsted" Yarn, in Porcupine, $18, o-wool.com.
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Photography: Bare Naked Wools16 of 16
Bare Naked Wools
Longtime knitter Anne Hanson sixteen premium lines of yarn—all natural wool, no dyes. The color palette consists of a minimalist's selection of grays, rich browns, and snowy whites. All of these soft, neutral tones allow the wool's natural texture to shine in knit garments.
Bare Naked Wools "Hempshaugh Lace" Yarn, in Buckwheat Lace, $48, barenakedwools.com.