DIY projects and lifestyle can be a great way to to express your creativity, give yourself a sense of accomplishment, and tailor your stuff to exactly your taste. Bonus: it leaves lots of room to reuse, recycle and repurpose. If you’re looking to be a little more environmentally conscious, create less waste, or be more mindful of where your goods come from, you know it’s not as easy as it sounds. Nor is it as cheap as the term DIY seems to suggest.
Yarn is expensive, and if you’re a regular knitter or crocheter — you need a lot of it. We can probably all appreciate a good collection of cheap acrylic yarn in pretty colours and soft textures. But, looking at the Made In labels can be a little discouraging, as so many of them seem to come from parts of the world that are well known as places to take advantage of for cheap, unfair labour. Luckily, this is getting better. Some big, affordable brands are offering more and more skeins made in Canada and the USA. And, if you’re willing and able to pay a little more, there are also some brands that offer high quality, responsibly sourced yarn from all over the world. And it never hurts to look out for sales.
* Prices listed are in CAD dollars
Bernat Handicrafter Cotton
This is a natural, 100% USA grown cotton yarn. Best of all, it’s not very expensive, coming only in the economical big ball size (608-710 yards). It’s great for home decor projects, purses and totes. You can find a variety of worsted weight (4) solids, ombres, and twists at your local Michael’s, or online from Amazon or Yarnspirations.
I’ve used this yarn to make a denim-style jacket.
Price range: $10-$18 for 608-710 yards
Red Heart Soft
This is a soft, acrylic yarn made in the USA. Like all Red Heart yarns, it’s really inexpensive. It’s great for scarves, hats and baby blankets. You can find a variety of worsted weight (4) solid colours at your local Michael’s or online from Amazon, but I haven’t come across any ombres made in the USA yet.
I’ve used this yarn a lot – most recently to make a Pumpkin Patch slouchy hat (pattern coming soon!)
Price range: $5-$8 for 256 yards
Loops and Threads
This brand is a bit of a toss up. While many of the skeins I’ve come across are Made in Canada, it seem just as many aren’t. So, if this matters to you, you’ll have to be vigilant about reading the labels. The yarns are mainly acrylic with some wool blends, but it’s not as affordable as other brands of similar categories. You can find this brand at your local Michael’s or online on Amazon.
I used this yarn to make what I call my Frankenstitch Blanket – as a “learn new stitches” exercise, I made various large swatches and stitched them all together.
Price range: $12-$25 for about 100 yards
Sugar n’ Cream
This is a natural, 100% USA-grown cotton yarn. It advertises as “the original yarn” and it used to be the only brand I could find for responsible cotton – but Bernat Handicrafter now offers exactly the same thing for a lower cost. Still, there’s a wide variety of worsted weight (4) solids and ombres that are great for home decor projects. You can find this yarn on Yarnspirations or on Amazon for big ball size.
This yarn was a great texture for placemats… of which I’ve only made one so far (oops!)
Price range: $4 for 95-120 yards or $30 for 708 yards
We Are Knitters
This is hands-down my favourite brand. It’s a little pricier, but the quality difference is astounding. I’ve only used their cotton, but I can’t believe how soft it is. It’s nothing like the stiff, rough cotton offered by Bernat and Sugar n’ Cream. It’s perfect for clothes and baby blankets. The brand has recently become more public about its support of green projects, sustainability and responsible sourcing. They take pride in using no plastic and shipping in recyclable bags. They also offer recycled tee shirt yarn and 100% natural cotton and wool. Most of their yarn seems to come from Peru. In reaching out, I was assured that they oversee the farms they source from to ensure fair practices. To learn more about the brand at to shop, visit We Are Knitters.
I make a lot of tops and cardis with this yarn and I’m always really pleased with how they turn out.
Price range: $12-$20 for about 200 yards of worsted weight cotton
Local Sheep Farms
This is by far the most expensive option. That said, it’s not just yarn, it’s a full experience. You can see the grounds for yourself, pet the sheep, speak to the owners, and buy some very pricey wool. And, of course, local means a smaller carbon footprint (no delivery trucks required) and the chance to support your local economy.
I recently visited Lismore Sheep Farm in Nova Scotia and had a blast.
Price range: There are a lot of variables here, but at Lismore, I spent $100+ on about 400 yards. The blanket is still in progress… But my cat loves it.
Know of any other brands that offer responsibly sourced yarn? Let me know in the comments!