From sheep or other wolly beeings that are not going to be dinner. Some of the shops on this list are breeding animals and selling them (And they might or might not become food at one point.) For some, this might be an issue. And to tell you the truth, I´m not 100% comfortable with it either. But, people who sells wool from slaughter-free flocks are few and far between. So maybe we shouldn´t be to difficult? If we raise the demand for slaughter-free wool, we might be able to change future sheep farmers way of life and that is something we should keep in mind. But again, whatever you choose, do what feels right for you!
The companies marked with * has said that they do not sell the offspring. That might be the case with some of the others as well, but this is not yet confirmed.
Woolliefarm on Etsy
The Doulton Flock on Etsy
The living rug company*
Home farm Wensleydales
A Cookley yarn* (Sells pure mohair yarn and wool from her own little herd of angora goats.)
Other natural fibers
There are so many beautiful yarns that are not harvested from a living being. And if wool is not for you, there is no reason why you shouldn´t be knitting. I would however advice you to take a close look at what you purchase as a substitute for wool. Yarn with acrylic or other non-natural content gives off microplastic particles that does great harm to a multiple of living beings. It might seem like our personal yarn choices makes little or no difference at all if you look at the big picture, but a little goes a long way. If you are somehow not familiar with microplastics, I urge you to read this article from The Guardian. It talks about a lot more than clothing, but it is (or should be) a wake-up call.
As far as cotton goes, it is not necessarily a good, environmental choice. Read about the cotton farming´s impact on the earth in this article from WWF. Some cottons are really bad for the environment. Some are a better choice. (But maybe non of them are great?)
Olines cotton 8/4
Blackhill Recycle Cotton Tweed
Go Handmade Tencel/Bamboo
Drops loves you #6 (Recycled cotton)
Drops loves you #9 (Recycled cotton)
Drops Paris Recycled Denim (Not all the Paris yarn is recycled!)
Pickles Thin Organic cotton
If you have stores or yarns you want to add to this list let me know and I´ll keep it updated. If you have comments or corrections on the companies mentioned in this post let me know, and I will investigate further.
And remember: Ethical yarns may be a bit more expensive than other yarns, but do you really need a gianormous stash? A lot of the yarn I´ve hoarded in the past is just laying around. If I spend my yarn money on ethical yarn and only (or almost only, because face it, once a yarn harlot always a yarn harlot…) buy yarn for spesific projects, it will not be all that expensive.
A blog post written in Guilt Free Vegetarian about the topic of ethical wool that one of my podcast watchers showed me.