Sustainable Making: The Darn Good Yarn Story

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.)

I'm so excited to share a beautiful new collaboration with you guys! As I've written about in previous posts, my new year's resolution is to focus on sustainability in my making this year. Right around the time I was beginning to learn about harms of the fast fashion industry, a wonderful yarn company, Darn Good Yarn, reached out to me about collaborating together. I was so excited when I read about their mission and story; it totally felt like kismet. The best part? They are generously offering you guys 15% off your entire purchase of yarn with the code bundlehandmade15. Seriously, these guys are the best, in large part because of their unique and inspiring story.

Darn Good Yarn is a yarn company started by U.S. Air Force veteran Nicole Snow in 2008. Since its beginning, the company has done phenomenal work to live out their "Start with Love" philosophy. All of their yarn is handmade in small batches, using recycled materials that would otherwise end up in landfills. Perhaps even more inspiring, Darn Good Yarn hand-selects hundreds of women in Nepal and India and gives them lucrative employment opportunities that allow them to work from home and earn a fair wage. Watch the video below if you want to fall in love with this company as I have.

My favorite quote from this video: "When you're sitting at home knitting and creating, try to take a moment to recognize the journey that this yarn has gone on. Think of all the people whose hands have touched it. It's really incredible to think about."

If you've read anything about the perils of fast fashion, the two main points emphasized over and over again are that it destroys the environment and exploits workers (particularly women) around the world. Darn Good Yarn is doing such important work to combat both of these problems. By empowering women to do fulfilling, dignified work, the company is taking steps toward spreading the message that yarn can – and should – be created with the utmost respect for both the environment and the workers who make it possible.

My Projects

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The first little bundle of yarn that I received from Darn Good Yarn is their Sari Silk Ribbon Yarn in Vintage Ivory. This yarn is so precious and unique, created from recycled silk saris that would otherwise have ended up in landfills. The women employed by DGY cut the recycled saris into strips and then hand-sew them together to create this uniquely textured yarn. (You can actually see some of this process in the video above.) This is probably my favorite product of theirs, because – like the quote I pulled out from the video encourages us to do – imagining the journey this yarn has taken makes the creating process so very special.

I am planning to make a pillow cover with this yarn, and will likely post the pattern for free here on the blog. I am so excited to work with such unique and beautiful yarn, and I love the idea of having an item in my home that was hand-crafted by women across the world.

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This second bundle of yarn is destined to become a sweater, likely one of the lightweight, summery sweaters on my 2018 Make Nine list. It is a sport-weight linen yarn, also created with recycled materials, and dyed to a beautiful, shimmery blueish-grey. I haven't quite decided which garment it will become yet because I keep going back and forth, but I will definitely be posting progress photos as the project comes together.

I should mention that, in addition to unique and ethically-produced handmade yarns, Darn Good Yarn also has some beautiful patterns and kits, maker gifts, and clothing/accessories, all of which are made with the same goal of spreading love, empowering workers in India and Nepal, and protecting the environment. If you are as inspired by their mission as I am, I strongly encourage you to peruse their website – there's a lot to see, and a lot to feel inspired by.

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It's worth acknowledging that it is tough in many ways to live out a sustainable ethos – as I have mentioned before and plan to write more about soon, making ethical choices can be expensive and inconvenient, particularly for a business. So when companies are so steadfast about their mission to do good, it really warms the heart. Let's just take a moment to appreciate that there are folks whose business practices are honorable, forward-thinking, and loving. How's that for a little bit of magic to light up your weekday?