The organic cotton yarn that I use for… well, everything has been discontinued, so I’ve spent the last few weeks working out what this means for my offering.
The yarn I use is Twilley’s Freedom Sincere organic cotton DK, and it is top quality and totally reliable (thoroughly consistent dye lots, no knots, always true to gage). It gives the smooth finish perfect for the 3-D crochet I specialise in, and it comes in a very large range of colours that has allowed me to make everything from bright-red cars to pastel wash-bears via purple grapes.
My signature robin might very well not have come about, if I hadn’t known I had the perfect colour for his red-breast (which as we all know isn’t actually red) in my toolkit.
You could say I should’t have based my whole range on one supplier, but the fact is – and I have pointed this out to the manufacturers – this is the only organic cotton DK widely available in the UK. If you want organic cotton in the UK, this is what you buy. And it happens to be very affordable too – less than many non-organic cottons from big names like Rowan.
So now people like me who like to craft sustainably have got a real problem. A few other 100% organic cotton yarns are available as an odd ball here or there in the UK that have been imported from Europe or South Africa, but in those yarns there is nothing like the colour range of Freedom Sincere. Locally-produced and sustainably-dyed British wool is great environmentally and the colour-range is infinite, but it is more expensive, and doesn’t lend itself so well to sculptural and 3D crochet where you need a really firm, stretch-free yarn. Bamboo although ‘eco’ in its growth, is often heavily processed, so you have to know what you are buying if you want it to be sustainable. Hemp and linen are great for the job but not easily and reliably available in predictable colourways. There are some yarns with recycled content on the market, but you’ve got to ask yourself what else they contain, and they generally have a ‘textured’ look to emphasise their credentials, which is lovely for some projects, but not so much for others.
Frankly, the research involved to find what I need is a big overhead for me as a business owner, and is clearly now going to be an on-going issue. I imagine the majority of people will just give up when they can’t find organic cotton at their usual retailer.
Is there really no demand for organic cotton yarn in the UK? Isn’t it something lots of people look for for baby clothes in particular? And it’s not an issue of affordability and people cutting back on luxury items, because as I mentioned, Freedom Sincere has always been very affordable. I just don’t understand it… it’s like things are going backwards…
So, anyway, what does it mean for me at the moment?
Well, first of all, I have managed to source some organic cotton that is perfect for my egg kits and sets of ready-made eggs. I’m rather pleased with the colours after all my efforts!
They are rather warmer than the Freedom Sincere palette, and have a kind of 1940s retro vibe going on.
So the egg kits are now back in my Etsy shop!
And I’m keeping the price the same for now, despite the new yarn being more expensive.
Secondly, finding colours that will work for my robins, or many of my fruit and vegetables, is proving to be very difficult, so I may just have to cut right back on this part of my business and I will be putting the prices of my fruit and vegetables up at the end of March. To be honest my fruit and vegetable pricing has never truly reflected the time they take me to make, so the rise is overdue, but the increased difficulty in sourcing affordable yarn makes it a necessity now. So if you’ve been thinking you’d like to order birdies, fruit or vegetables, I can only suggest you get your orders in quickly!
Thirdly, if I do find a reliable source of suitable yarn overseas, that I feel is beneficial for me to buy (it provides fair-wage employment, it reduces chemical usage on the land, etc), I might look into insetting or offsetting in relation to shipping it to the UK.
Thanks for reading!