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Sustainability at Knomad: Organic Wool and Recycled Fibers

By Erin Dollar on April 8, 2021

There are many factors to consider when choosing sustainable yarns. At Knomad, sustainability means respecting natural resources, and our partner mill in Arequipa, Perú is aligned with this philosophy. As a young, independent brand, we’ve chosen to work with manufacturers with generations of experience to help us create more sustainable ecru yarns. 


sustainable yarns in Peru

Organic Undyed Yarn

Knomad is proud to offer organic yarn in fingering, worsted, and sport weights. Egret and Spark are created from 100% Fine Organic Merino Wool, and Bristle is spun with 70% Fine Organic Merino Wool and 30% Hemp. Through our mill, we source raw materials with Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification.

Organic certifications cover not only the industrial process, but also some breeder and animal welfare standards, adding to our sustainability efforts. We currently offer three yarns with GOTS certification, and all of our wool yarns are produced with mulesing-free wool. Later this year, in order to offer more sustainable products, our mill will add Responsible Wool Standards certification (RWS) through Textile Exchange. RWS standards are focused on sustainable land management, the welfare of the sheep, and fair trade.


sustainable yarns in Peru


In an effort to expand those protections to alpaca, Knomad is also advocating for new certifications. We are working directly with Textile Exchange and the alpaca industry in Peru to create a brand new certification: Responsible Alpaca Standards (RAS). The first lot of raw material with this new certification should be available in late 2021 or early 2022. We’re currently developing the standards; implementation and training with the alpaca farmers is the next step.

No matter what undyed yarn you choose from our collection, the quality will be exceptional. Organic wool yarn does not take dye differently the quality of the wool is exactly the same, the difference is in the environmental impact, and the origin or the process of the wool producers.

Recycled Undyed Yarn

Knomad has also developed a recycled yarn: Asperitas. Made from 50% recycled wool (reclaimed waste product from the manufacturing process) Asperitas is blended with Tencel to create a sustainable yarn. Tencel is selected for its planet-friendly properties: it’s created from a fiber made from a special wood pulp and post-consumer fiber waste, produced using recyclable, eco-friendly solvents. Tencel fiber helps to tie the shorter recycled wool fibers in Asperitas together — the blend makes the recycled yarn more stable.

The market demands superwash yarns because they take dye well and are so easy to care for, so those will remain in Knomad’s product range. But we know that small improvements in our sustainability efforts can have a big impact. That’s why we’ve made a company-wide change to use only recycled nylon in the yarns that require a blend of natural and synthetic fibers. Our Egg Shell, Snowdrift, and Stratus yarns are created using high-quality wool and recycled nylon.

Sustainability Certifications

For all the fibers that go into our yarns — from Wool, to Silk, to Tencel — we only work with suppliers that offer OEKO-TEX certification. This guarantees that the fibers are tested for harmful substances and are safe from a human and ecological perspective. Our partner mill has also earned Class 1 OEKO-TEX certification. Knomad has fully integrated the benchmarks through all our yarn manufacturing processes so that all our ecru yarns meet the OEKO-TEX standards.

We’re in the process of expanding to a new level of certification, STeP by OEKO-TEX. STeP shares the same eco-minded philosophy as Class 1, but it covers other industrial topics and company relations with community stakeholders. This new certification sets sustainability standards for environmental and chemical management, social responsibility, quality control, and health and safety protections at the mill. We expect the new STeP certification’s official launch in late 2021.

A Vision for the Future

As Knomad grows, our goal is always to partner with mills that follow sustainable practices for workers and for the environment. Our vision for the future: inspire dyers to try natural yarns by showcasing their amazing properties. We aim to provide education around natural fibers through our blog (and on Instagram!), to make it easy for dyers to adopt more natural yarns into their own creative process.

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Erin Dollar

Erin Dollar is the artist behind the home textiles company Cotton & Flax. Her enthusiasm for printing on fabric fuels her energetic craft workshops, where she teaches intrepid students to create their own block printed fabrics. Erin is also a writer and an advocate for creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California with her partner, two calico cats, and a closet full of half-finished craft projects.

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