Who Says Vegans Can’t Knit? As an identifying Vegan-Curious, the issue of wool is one of those ‘eh?’ moments.

I mean, animals aren’t hurt when you shave their fleece, right? Wrong, apparently. Even a cursory amount of Googling shows that in fact, the wool industry is one of the most barbaric.

The way sheep are kept, sheared and transported is not something you should read about at bedtime. (And once their wool-producing days are over, most of them are killed anyway, for meat.)

Then there are the seriously mean tricks such as mulesing sheep, and dehorning mohair and cashmere goats. And believe me, you wouldn’t want to come back as an angora rabbit.

Anyway, while people who live in colder climes (Siberians, we’re talking to you) may state a case for the necessity of real wool, here in the southern hemisphere, it just won’t wash. No, not even in Melbourne.

The fact is there are plenty of naturally great yarns around that are soft, colourful and warm, and they have the vegan tick of approval. These all come without acrylic shock, so let’s get knitting.


Cotton yarn is spun from the fluffy lining of the seed heads of the cotton plant. It makes a strong, light yarn that is often treated to give it a smooth sheen. It’s a cool, breathable fibre, and is great for knits for all seasons. If it’s organic and fair trade, so much the better.


Made from the fibres of the flax plant, linen yarn is thought to be one of the oldest in the world, having been in use for 36,000 years or so.

It knits up with a lovely crisp feel that softens over time. Great for casual summer wear.


Banana silk yarn is made from the fibres of the banana leaf. It’s made from the parts that would otherwise be wasted after the fruit is harvested. It’s kind of chunky with a lovely soft texture and pearly sheen and you can get it in a huge range of colours. Great for beanies and scarves.


Bamboo yarn comes from one of the world’s most sustainable resources and is cool and soft to wear, with a nice lustre. It’s also gentle on sensitive skin, making it a popular choice for babywear. It can be slippery to knit with, so get your wooden needles out.


Hemp yarn is great for knitting or crocheting bags and cushion covers. It’s super durable and can go not only in the washing machine but the dryer too, should you need it in a hurry. Hemp can be coarse but will get softer with each wash.


Several species of the nettle family produce fibres similar to flax, and have been similarly used to make textiles for thousands of years. It’s heavy duty and makes a good rug, bag or basket. (The fibre comes from the stem so you don’t need to worry about the sting.)