Review: Universal Yarns (& Their Sub-brands)

Intro:

Yarn comes in all different thicknesses textures and fibers, and most companies specialize in specific ones, however I have been very impressed with the diversity and quality of the Universal Yarn lineup. They seem to sell a bit of everything (Cotton, Superwash, Hemp, Linen, Bamboo pop, and lots more!), while keeping the costs affordable and the quality up.

I was fortunate enough to receive some samples of the natural fiber yarns which I hadn’t yet gotten a chance to try, so I have tested each one and listed my findings below. There are some which I absolutely loved which will immediately be added to my regular stash for upcoming projects, plus one or two which I didn’t like so much, but in all cases I have listed my honest opinions along with photos of the test swatch I did so that you can see how they knit up.

Universal Yarn Sheldon The Superwash sheep
Sheldon The Sheep Inspecting the machines at the Universal Yarn Factory!

Company Info:

Universal Yarn was established in 2005 by Hal Ozbelli who had a vision of bringing great quality yarns directly from the source to the US (and now Canadian!) markets. They are a relatively young company compared to some of the longstanding brands out there, however over the past 16 years they have grown into one of the big players in the yarn distribution industry, and they have gained a name for themselves through their high quality and affordable products.

Location:

Their head office and distribution center is located in Harrisburg North Carolina, and 95% of their manufacturing is done in Bursa Turkey (although they also just teamed up with an Italian mill to produce some lovely Italian made products as well).

Sub-Brands:

Universal Yarn is the umbrella company for many other yarn brands too: Fibra Natura, Nazli Gelin, Rico Yarns, Rozetti Yarns, & Wisdom Yarns.

Natural vs. Synthetic:

Universal yarn does produce some synthetic yarns however they carry a wonderful selection of natural options too! Because I try not to use synthetics in my craft projects any more than I need to I will only be going into detail on their more natural yarn lines.

For a full list of all of the yarn they sell, scroll down to the bottom of this page and check out the searchable table!

Customer Care:

I have been very impressed with the customer care team, and everyone I have spoken to at universal yarn, they are all very friendly and helpful and truly a pleasure to work with.

Universal Yarn Environmental Impact & Practices:

Overall Universal Yarn seems to be doing what they can to produce their yarns with the health of it’s users and the planet in mind.

Oeko-Tex Certification:

All of their yarns are certified by Oeko-Tex with a Class 1 certification (which is the strictest standard they offer, and approved for use directly against the most sensitive skin for garments like underwear and baby clothes etc).

ISO-9000 Certification:

The Universal Yarn factories and yarn also qualifies for the ISO-9000 classification, which is an international standard required in order to sell in the EU.

Coatings?

Universal Yarn mills do not use any coatings or polymers to treat their natural fibers (other than their superwash, but this is required in any superwash to achieve the washable wool product… more on that below).

Chemicals:

Any chemicals used, including dyes, are approved by ISO-9000 European standards, and Oecko Tex. And after the dying process, all of their yarns are washed multiple times, to prevent anything harmful from being left behind in the end product.

Overall:

Overall Universal Yarn has a very good selection of natural and recycled fibers available, and I have personally found that compared to products I have used from other companies, I find I often gravitate towards Universal Yarn because their quality to price ratio is good, and I appreciate the certifications they carry!

Sheldon the Superwash Sheep
Sheldon The Sheep Taking a break on the production line!

Superwash Yarn:

(I will go deeper into this topic in a review specifically on superwash, but for now here’s some quick info)

Unfortunately I have not been able to get any further information about Universal Yarn’s specific manufacturing process of their superwash… This is not terribly surprising because due to the proprietary nature of the processes used most manufacturers are not willing to share this data…

The benefit with Universal Yarn over many of their competitors is that all of their yarn including their superwash is processed to meet the Oeko-Tex Class 1 and ISO-9000 European standards. Which means that all of the additives and chemicals that they use to create their superwash must meet fairly strict standard.

Now I personally love superwash:

Superwash is awesome to use because it has the warmth of wool, but with the ability to be chucked straight into the washing machine (and often even the dryer)… However one of the main positives for me is the fact that it’s a natural fiber and renewable resource, but when I started doing a little research into the manufacturing processes used to create it I was not pleased to discover that there are some ‘not so eco friendly’ steps required to make this favorite yarn of mine…

How is superwash made?
  • Superwash is created by stripping the barbs off the individual strands of fiber (usually using chlorine)
  • Then once that is done they use a polymer blend (otherwise known as plastic) which is applied to the fibers to ‘fill the voids and pits’ left after the chlorine treatment, to help prevent felting…
  •  

Now as far as superwash yarn goes I would say that Universal is absolutely one of my favorites, and because it is made following the European standards it will likely be better than some of the other versions out there, however now that I know that it is made with chlorine and polymers superwash is not quite so high no my list of favorites (although I still do love working with it, and in my opinion it’s still going to be better than acrylic or other fully synthetic yarns)…

 *I don’t know how much polymer is required by weight to achieve superwash ability, however I would guess that it would likely be in the order of  5% to 10% by weight? (I wish it was required that companies list the % of polymer on the labels just like any other fiber within a blend, but unfortunately it appears that this is not required at this point.

My Yarn Findings for specific Universal Yarn (and their sub-brands):

OK So Universal Yarn carries a very wide array of different fibers, and I have created a searchable table below which lists them all, however I have only tested their more natural lines because I don’t personally use synthetic fibers in my crafting when I can avoid it.

I am also focusing primarily on easy care yarns, although I have included a couple of hand wash yarns as well just because I had them.

*Yarn preferences are subjective, I have included my comments and ratings below for each of the yarns I tested, and I tried to include some information on the feel and look of each fabric, however these are just my opinions from my point of view, so don’t take my word for it, when in doubt try it out! 🙂

Cottons

Other Natural Fibres

Superwash

Here's a searchable list for all of Universal Yarns Products

The table below is fully searchable (ie if you are looking for Linen Yarn all you have to do is type Linen into the search box below and it will show all of their yarn with Linen as a component).

You can also sort the table by a specific attribute by clicking on the header cells (ie if you would like to sort the table by Needle size just click where it says “US Needle Size”) and the table will sort for you.

*Each of the Yarns which I have tested and reviewed above, have a little Happyknitting logo on the left

Reviewed Above?Company/ Sub-CompanyYarn NameComposition/ FibreUS Needle SizeYarn WeightGrams/ BallYards/ BallNumber of colors Available
Universal YarnAdore55% Superwash Merino
45% Acrylic
53 - Light10027332
Universal YarnBamboo Bloom Handpaints48% Bamboo
44% Wool
8% Acrylic
95 - Bulky10015422
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnBamboo Pop Solid / Multi / Dots50% Bamboo
50% Cotton
63 - Light10029242 solid
25 multi
6 dots
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnBamboo Pop Socks55% Bamboo
37% Cotton
8% PBT
11 - Super Fine10049216
Universal YarnBe Wool Solids40% Wool
60% Acyrlic
175 - Bulky2009412
Universal YarnBe Wool Multis40% Wool
60% Acyrlic
175 - Bulky170806
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnBella Cash60% Fine Merino Superwash
30% nylon
10% cashmere
32 - Fine5023026 solid
Universal YarnBella Chenille100% Polyester10.56 - Super Bulky10013129
Universal YarnBella Chenille Big100% Polyester136 - Super Bulky2008714
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnClean Cotton85% recycled Cotton
15% recycled Polyester
84 - Medium7513121
Universal YarnClean Cotton Multi85% recycled Cotton
15% recycled Polyester
84 - Medium559615
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnClean Cotton Big85% recycled Cotton
15% recycled Polyester
155 - Bulky200558 solids
8 multis
Universal YarnColorburst65% Superwash Fine Merino Wool 35% Acrylic63 - Light20065617
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnCotton Supreme100% Cotton84 - Medium10018045
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnCotton Supreme Sapling100% Cotton105 - Bulky10010917
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnCotton Supreme DK100% Cotton63 - Light10023032
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnCotton Supreme Waves100% Cotton63 - Light10023019
Universal YarnDeluxe Worsted100% Wool84 - Medium100220148
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnDeluxe DK Superwash100% Superwash Wool63 - Light10028461
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnDeluxe Worsted Superwash100% Superwash Wool84 - Medium10021872
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnDeluxe Bulky Superwash100% Superwash Wool10.55 - Bulky10010652
Universal YarnDeluxe DK Superwash Tweed90% Superwash Wool
7% Acrylic
3 % viscose
63 - Light10028420
Universal YarnDeluxe Worsted Superwash Tweed90% Superwash Wool
7% Acrylic
3 % viscose
84 - Medium10021820
Happy Knitting LogoUniversal YarnDeluxe Stripes75% Superwash Wool
25% Nylon
84 - Medium1002186
Universal YarnMajor100% Acrylic105 - Bulky20032838
Universal YarnNordic Tapestry70 % Acyrlic
30 % Wool
84 - Medium2004377
Universal YarnPenna50 % Baby Suri Alpaca
28% Extra Fine Merino
22% Nylon
0-21 - Super Fine2518616
Universal YarnReady To Dye 01 Bamboo/Merino/Nylon50% Merino Wool
25% Rayon from Bamboo
25% Nylon
0-21 - Super Fine1004591
Universal YarnReady To Dye 02
Wool/ Nylon Sock Weight
75% Superwash Merino Wool 25% Nylon0-21 - Super Fine1004501
Universal YarnReady To Dye 03 Superwash Merino Sock Weight100% Superwash Merino Wool0-22 - Fine1303701
Universal YarnReady To Dye 04 Superwash Merino Worsted Weight100% Superwash Merino Wool84 - Medium1001801
Universal YarnReady To Dye 05 Superwash Merino / Nylon / Angora Sock50% Superwash Merino Wool 30% Nylon
20% Angora
0-21 - Super Fine1004601
Universal YarnReady To Dye 08 Linen DK Weight100% Linen73 - Light1002751
Universal YarnReady To Dye 09 Merino/Silk Sport Weight75% Merino Wool
25% Silk
43 - Light1003301
Universal YarnUptown Baby Sport100% Acrylic (Anti Pilling)42 - Fine10036127
Universal YarnUptown Super Bulky100% Acrylic (Anti Pilling)136 - Super Bulky1008719
Universal YarnUptown DK100% Acrylic (Anti Pilling)63 - Light10027355
Universal YarnUptown Worsted100% Acrylic (Anti Pilling)84 - Medium10018071
Universal YarnUniverse42 % Linen
41% Combed Cotton
8% Polyamide
9% Glitter
11 - Super Fine5024610
Universal YarnWool Pop35% Superwash Wool
50 % Bamboo
15% Polyamide
63 - Light10028430
Universal YarnYashi100% Raffia94 - Medium409917
Universal YarnYashi Iro100% Raffia94 - Medium501244
Fibra NaturaCashmere Lusso50% recycled Cashmere 50% Virgin Cashmere32 - Fine5024615
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaCotton True Sport100% pima cotton32 - Fine5019721
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaDona100 % Extra Fine Merino Superwash63 - Light5012638
Fibra NaturaDonina100 % Extra Fine Merino Superwash32 - Fine5018025
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaFlax100% Linen53 - Light5013735
Fibra NaturaFlax Lace100% Linen21 - Super Fine10054719
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaJava100 % Hemp64 - Medium10021912
Fibra NaturaKingston Tweed50% wool
25% alpaca
25% mixed fiber
53 - Light5019415
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaPapyrus78% cotton
22% silk
63 - Light5013122
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaRadiant Cotton100% Egyptian Cotton53 - Light10020332
Fibra NaturaRavello75% cotton
16% extra fine merino
9% recycled cashmere
32 - Fine5020716
Happy Knitting LogoFibra NaturaUnity36% wool
28% cotton
18% linen,
18% bamboo
63 - Light10026215
Fibra NaturaUnity Beyond36% wool
28% cotton
18% linen,
18% bamboo
63 - Light1002629
Fibra NaturaWhisper Lace Solid/Multi70% Wool
30% Silk
21 - Super Fine5044014 solid
13 multi
RozettiCinema70% wool
25% nylon
5% cashmere
105 - Bulky10010910 solids
5 multi
RozettiCotton Gold65% Cotton
27% Payette
8% Metallic
1-31 - Super Fine2520010
RozettiNymph84% Cotton
16% Polyamide
63 - Light5012515
WisdomAllegro93% Acrylic
7% PBT
21 - Super Fine1004709
WisdomPix75% Superwash Wool
25% Nylon
11 - Super Fine1004598
WisdomWacki Saki50% Superwash Merino
25% Nylon
25% Bamboo
0-21 - Super Fine1004628

In Summery:

Universal Yarn produces some lovely fibers which I am proud to use and recommend (and a few that are not my #1 choice too, but no company is perfect!).

I love that they have such a wide variety of fibers to choose from, and that their price point reasonable.

There are tons of other brands out there who sell similar products, here’s a list of just a few of the ones I know of off the top of my head.

Some other Brands are:

  • Patons: these guys are probably best known for their Kroy Superwash sock yarn (and rightly so, because it’s great to work with!). They also appear to have some other wool and bamboo options, but I have not personally used anything other than their sock yarn. (Kroy sock yarn is wonderful for making socks, gloves and hats though!)
  • Bernat: Lots of Acrylic yarns, but they do have some Cottons, and their prices are quite reasonable. Their yarns tend to be readily available at most large craft stores like Michael’s etc. (I use their 50g cotton skeins for making dishcloths etc because they are cheap and knit up nicely, and tend to last a long time).
  • Cascade Yarns: Similar product diversity to Universal Yarn’s lines, however they tend to be more expensive in my experience, and personally I have found that the quality between Cascade and Universal seems quite comparable although I haven’t tested Cascade as extensivly.
  • Berroco Yarns: this company has been around since the 1800’s so they know a thing or two about textiles! They have a great selection of natural fiber yarns, a few of which I have used over the years, but most of them I haven’t. They have everything from Cotton merino and wool, to Linen Mohair and Silk, and they seem to be reasonably priced (I hope to do a review on their yarns in the future!).
  • King Cole Yarn: I have not personally used any of their products, but they seem to have some cottons and a few other natural fibers which look like they would be nice to try and at a reasonable price.
  • Plymouth Yarns: lots of bright colors and they seem to be competitively priced. I have not had a chance to test these, but they seem to have some natural options (cottons, wool, alpaca, merino, and even linen… as well as lots of acrylic).
  • Lily Sugar ‘n Cream: cheap cotton options, good for dishcloths etc.
  • Lion Brand: These guys have been around a long time, and carry a wide arrangement of options that tend to be readily available in larger craft stores, however again most of their options are synthetic. Luckily they do have some cotton, wool, and bamboo options too (again I haven’t had a chance to test any out myself, but I will let you know when/if I do).
  • Naro Yarn: This is a neat company with lots of natural fibers in fun colors although they appear to be in the more expensive price ranges (I haven’t had a chance to test any of their products yet either)
  • Paint Box Yarns: Their prices seem quite reasonable, and they have fun and bright colors available in all of their lines. With wool and Cotton options (again I haven’t tested these)
  • Rowan Wool & Yarn: This is a British company which appears to produce some lovely Cotton, wool, alpaca, merino and other natural fiber yarns… One day I hope to test them all!
  • Schachenmayr Yarn & Wool: is a German based company and has been in operation a very long time. They appear to have some lovely 100% cotton options and a few other natural fibers (I will definitely be keeping an eye out for their product to test in a future review)

These are just a few of the many many companies out there selling yarn.

I personally use a lot of Universal Yarn, because I trust their quality and the price point is generally in my price range whereas many others are a lot more expensive for similar products. Plus I appreciate that they certify their yarn with OEKO-TEX and ISO-9000, which not all companies do.

That’s it for my comments!

I hope this review has helped to give you some insights into Universal Yarn (and maybe some other yarn companies too!).

Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Happy Knitting! 🙂

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