Vegan Knitting

Here are all the reasons why I do not use animal fibers when knitting. There are great alternatives like cotton, soy “silk,” bamboo, and, for some, synthetic fibers. I’ve even seen some corn-based yarn!

From the Farm Sanctuary Veg for Life Website:


  • Silk comes from the caterpillars of the silk moth, who protect themselves by spinning silk strands to form a cocoon.
  • Each worm may produce up to a mile and half of continuous thread. To retain an unbroken thread of silk, moths are commonly boiled, baked or steamed alive when they are ready to emerge.

The Alternatives
Many common fibers simulate the look and feel of silk, including nylon, polyester, Tencel, milkweed seed-pod fibers, silk-cotton tree filaments, and rayon.



  • Angora rabbits are often kept in cramped cages for their entire eight-year lifespan.
  • Males only generate 75 percent of the wool females produce; consequently, most are killed at birth because they are not as “profitable.”
  • The females typically endure lives of loneliness and boredom and suffer from painful bone deformities and other ailments caused by severe confinement.


  • Goats raised for cashmere are typically reared in filthy, crowded conditions.
  • Shorn months prior to their natural shedding time, the goats are often exposed to cold temperatures and become more susceptible to illness.
  • Goats are often ear notched, de-horned and castrated without anesthesia and sold for meat after their first fiber harvest.


  • While a growing number of goats are being used for milk and meat in the United States, the majority are still used for mohair.
  • Intolerably sensitive to the cold and parasites, the goats often suffer from chills after their fleece is removed.
  • Like other animals used for fiber production, these goats are commonly sold for slaughter when they are no longer considered profitable.

Sheep’s Wool

  • Sheep have been purposely bred to produce excessive wool. As a result of having an abnormal amount of wool, many sheep suffer from fly infestations, skin sores and wool parasites.
  • During shearing, the majority of these animals are handled roughly and their fleece is removed as quickly as possible. Injuries are common and shearers frequently cut into the flesh of terrified sheep.
  • Lambs typically suffer from painful mutilations, such as tail docking and castration, without anesthesia. Sheep may also undergo mulesing, a painful process by which a four by six-inch piece of skin is cut from their tails and backside.
  • When the sheep are no longer producing prime wool, they are commonly transported to slaughterhouses in overcrowded trucks. Many sheep become “downers” and are left to suffer and die slowly from neglect.
  • Australia, the largest wool producer, sends many of its “spent” sheep on a long, tortuous journey by ship to the Middle East where they are sold and slaughtered.
  • Felt, or compressed wool, is also a product of the cruel wool industry.

The Alternatives
Instead of shopping for heavy, itchy wool socks and mittens or expensive angora or cashmere sweaters, choose garments made with more light-weight and colorfast materials, such as nylon, acrylic, orlon, polyester fleece, cotton flannel, synthetic shearling, Tencel, or Polartec Wind Pro.