Organic yarn is different than other types of yarn because it is produced using an entirely organic process. This makes the yarn better for the environment, and it may mean that the yarn has also been produced ethically, by a company which maintains a responsible attitude when dealing with workers and the sources of its yarn. For consumers, one of the key differences between organic yarn and other types is the price tag: organic yarn costs more, sometimes a lot more.
In the case of yarns produced with animal fibers, when a yarn is certified organic, it means that the animals themselves are organic, and so is the production process of the yarn. This means that the animals were fed organic feed, raised on organic pasture, and raised without the use of hormones and chemicals. When the yarn was sheared and processed, biodegradeable cleansers were used to wash the yarn, and the whole process from shearing to spinning to make finished yarn was monitored to ensure that no non-organic materials contaminated the yarn.
Yarns made from natural fibers like linen, bamboo, and cotton which are certified organic are made in the same way, from crops raised organically and fibers which are handled organically. Whether animal or plant in origin, the organic certification and maintenance of organic standards can get very expensive, as agricultural chemicals and chemicals for processing yarns tend to be less expensive than the organic alternative.
The benefit to the consumer is that he or she knows that the yarn has not contributed to environmental degradation through chemical pollution, poor land use policies, and intensive farming practices which strip the Earth of its nutrients. Some people feel that the added cost of organic yarn is worth this benefit.
Organic yarn is available in dyed and undyed skeins. Dyed organic yarns tend to be extremely expensive, because organic and natural dyes are very pricey. The yarn may need to be dipped and processed specially to ensure that the dye takes, and this special care adds to the price tag. Undyed yarns actually come in a rainbow of colors, as many fibers come in an array of colors naturally, and some people actually enjoy working with undyed yarn and allowing the natural color to come through.
People can use organic yarn just like any other yarn; it typically has a tensile strength comparable to conventionally produced products, and it can range from fine silk to coarse, slubby wools, depending on how it is processed and handled. Organic yarns can also be dyed by home crafters. To maintain the organic integrity of the yarn, crafters may want to consider using organic or natural dyes, including dyes that they have harvested themselves from natural sources.