Yarn with Attitude :: De Rerum Natura ::

Saturday, 21 March 2015

At the end of last year I came across this video (I have not been able to watch it to the end by the way) and it made me seriously consider the ethics of my yarn stash. And it did not look good, I never really questioned my stash before, and I seemed to have little information about it. It did not mean that all my yarn was unethical, but there was nothing telling me it was either. And it was nagging me a bit. 

I am lucky though, the yarn industry has jumped wholeheartedly into a kind of back-to-nature movement; an understandable leap, since knitting and crocheting are all about making your own products, after all. And there are yarn options out there that are kind to nature and knit beautifully - and are not too hard to find, whilst still being reasonably priced. And one option is to get my yarn from Solenn at De Rerum Natura

My current project knitted in Ulysse
My current project knitted in Gilliatt
The philosophy behind De Rerum Natura is simple - to offer a yarn of high quality that is respectful to the sheep welfare. The philosophy is based on the close relationship between De Rerum Natura and the sheep farmers. 

So how does it knit? I found that Gilliatt knitted a bit like BT Shelter - I reviewed Shelter here - without the stuff stuck to it. It is rustic but still soft (softer than Shelter in fact), and will show cable work beautifully. So that leaves you with a lot of pattern options! I have a real penchant for neutral colours, so poivre et sel is really up my street. But there are also vibrant colours on offer - and I love how Solenn's patterns usually use both. 

Le bonnet Korrigan
De Rerum Natura may be more easily accessible to European knitters - I am mostly thinking of customs tax here, but it may be worse in the UK than elsewhere (oh! those little red notices). 

From a practical point of view, I bought my yarn directly from the De Rerum Natura site. I had it sent directly to Britain (instead of asking my Mum to bring it back with her for once), without any problem.

De Rerum Natura colour kit

I would like to think that my whole stash will be totally be ethical ... and the more options I find, the more chances I have to make this happen at some point in the future. To a certain extent, it depends on the price tag attached to the yarn (especially for big projects). And it is possible that my neutral stash might be filled with De Rerum Natura soon.  

I am really keen to find other ethical yarn out there, so please share any that you might have come across in the comment box - and I will try to review others soon!


  1. Oh wow, that video is absolutely horrifying, and I couldn't watch it til the end either. Since indeed the whole knitting and crochet community are about making things with love, you someone automatically assume the same kind of feelings go into the production of the yarn. Apparently this isn't the case, so I'll also look out for more ethical brands out there. Thanks for the info!

  2. Thank you sharing, Nat. I just watched the video and I'm speechless. Although I don't share much of this on my blog, I'm a vegetarian and have for years campaigned for animal welfare. I also try to exercise ethical consumption but, with a level of exception for food, it is VERY hard. Where possible, I try to purchase things made in the UK or EU or sometimes the US (which avoids a lot of the human rights abuses behind, for example, the garment industry) but still it is often unclear where the raw materials have come. I recently bought Cascade wool, assuming it was from Canadian sheep and then I found it was made in China - somewhere I would never have purchased wool from. That was entirely my own fault for not doing more research and your post has made me realise I been getting increasingly lax over the last few years. I would certainly welcome any information on ethical brands. The only company I can think of with a specific ethical policy is Yeoman's yarns - http://www.yeoman-yarns.co.uk/AboutUs.aspx

  3. I double that. I've also been trying to source more ethical & local yarn lately, and it's been quite a though journey actually. But it's also fascinating at the same time.
    I love De Rerum Natura so much. Gilliat and Ulysse are such exquisite yarns.

  4. I didn't even click on the video, I'm terrified I'll cry, because animal welfare is something I care very deeply about. I think this is something we are all thinking more and more about these days, a more ethical stash and a better understanding of where our fiber is coming from and how the animals are treated. Here in Canada it's hard to find Canadian sourced wool (not a lot of breeds have soft enough wool AND can handle the winters here), but alpaca is common. It's still hard to find places selling ethical yarns that have decent shipping to or in Canada, though. I wonder if we'll see more people turning to plant fibers and even manmade fibers, as concern of ethical wool increases?

  5. This looks so beautiful!! It's so nice to find ethical wool! I've bought it from my farmer's market, which is nice, and I also love O-Wool- my favorite is an animal-friendly and organic merino/cotton blend. :)

  6. Merci beaucoup Nathalie pour cette généreuse mise en avant de nos fils et le partage de tes préoccupations (qui sont aussi les nôtres) quant à l'origine de la laine ! Tes photos de projets sont ravissantes (le carré brodé est très réussi) et je me réjouis que nos fils s'harmonisent si joliment avec ce que tu as en tête ...

  7. Like you, I've been questioning the ethics of my stash. Belle Laine offers a good range of ethical yarns (mostly undyed and/or natural shades), supporting small-scale producers and co-operatives locally and overseas: http://bellelaine.yotabe.fr/1-1187-catalogue-des-fils.html (I'm sorely tempted by the yak-merino blend and will be ordering soon...)

    Being in the UK, you may also have come across Knit With Attitude. Their policy is all about ethical yarns, so check out their website too: http://knitwithattitude.com/shop/default/

    Bon courage et bon tricot!

  8. I know I won't be able to stomach the video. I have been thinking about ethical yarn too and after much thought, decided that an ethical AND environmental way about it is to simply knit from my stash, which will last me a very very long time anyway. But thank you so much for sharing about this company! If I need to get yarn (ha ha.. Incorrigible much?) it will be the first I'll check out!

  9. funny how we're all thinking along the same lines. I chose to not even go to the video, I can only imagine how horrifying. I am only now starting to look into options available here in Canada, but as Julie mentioned above, not as easy....