Recycled Denim


Recycling is a big part of our everyday lives. We have learnt to recycle our waste - often glass, paper, cardboard and plastic – and for many of us it has become routine and a way to help our communities in preserving the planet. We are very proud to have a recycled yarn in the Rowan range – Denim Revive.

Originally soured from recycled denim, it is 95% cotton and 5% other fibre. The cotton has been spun from vintage denim which has been through a recycling process and transformed into yarn. The 5% of ‘other fibre’ simply means that when you recycle a fabric there is always a very small amount of fibre that remains below the identifiable level, which is a normal result of the recycling process.

There is something so special about denim yarn, and Denim Revive has an added dimension, thanks to its sustainable credentials

Denim Revive Yarn Lifestyle

The process

Prato, situated in the heart of Tuscany in central Italy is home to the famous Prato textile industry, well known for its wool textile manufacture. Centuries-old craft skills combined with modern industrial growth saw Prato develop into one of Europe’s most important textile centres. Recycling plays an important role in Prato and ‘carding’, a specific production technique for fibres which allows new textiles to be created from used ones, has been practiced in Prato for many, many years. This creation of new yarns through the re-use of recycled textiles is more popular than ever, on trend even, reflecting our desire to recycle and preserve.

The garments which are to be recycled come from various sources – unsold goods, used garments and even weaving and spinning production waste from mills. The way the garments are sorted remains the same as in years gone by – skilled workers sort the huge piles of clothes into garment types and then they sort them by fibre, and then colour.

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Any linings are removed, along with fastenings such as buttons and zips, seams are cut, and any embellishments are also taken off. The most important fibre qualities to be separated are knitwear, flannel, gabardine, twill, velour and in our case, denim. Multi-coloured garments are put into their own pile and classified as ‘millefiori’ meaning the fusing together of lots of different colours. This typically creates one main colour, a shade of brown with red and white specks which is often then used for over-dying with dark colours such as black and navy.

The next stage of the process is carbonization to eliminate any impurities and then the garment pieces are washed, cut into smaller pieces and then finally introduced to a rag grinder which reduces them to loose fibres. The loose fibres are then ready to be sent to the carding set. During the carding process the loose fibres are mixed and then introduced to a special machine for creating a ‘carding web’. The ‘web’ is cut into small strips ready to be spun. Once spun, the yarn is then ready to be dyed, balled or coned, ready to be knitted into a new creation. In our case, Rowan Denim Revive.



As a society we are placing increasing importance on knowing where something has come from, understanding its origins, and the process it has been through on its journey to us.

In Autumn 2021, we were very proud to be able to introduce our first fully traceable yarn.
Our British yarn, Pebble Island, is 100% pure wool. Fully traceable from farm to store.

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Pebble Island is the third largest of the 750 offshore islands in the Falklands archipelago, to the east of the South American Continent. Characterised by three mountain peaks to the west – First, Middle and Marble - home to colonies of 4 breeds of penguin including Southern rockhopper and macaroni, and to the East, low grasslands and lakes, which attract a wide range of wildfowl and wading birds making it an important bird conservation area.

Now run by Alex and Dot Gould, along with sheep dog Betty and her offspring, the island has been a sheep farm since 1846, and produces some of the finest wool in the world. The 6000 sheep and other livestock have access to the beaches, including spectacular Elephant bay - the longest sand beach in the Falklands - where they can graze on kelp, which is proven to reduce methane emissions.

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The sheep are all blade-shorn by hand – an artisanal process, requiring dedication, patience and precision. Slower and quieter than mechanical shearing, this highly skilled technique is kind to the sheep, and also produces better wool yields.

Seasons are changing on the island – winters are longer, and spring is later – so Alex and his team shear earlier so that the ewes can be lighter on their feet for lambing. This also means that the wool is cleaner with less dust and dirt picked up through the summer months. The sheep are left with up to 18mm of wool using hand shears, and the lanolin is maintained for added protection and warmth.

The yarn is then spun in Yorkshire by a fourth-generation worsted spinning mill. There is a palette of ten shades inspired by the natural agate stones and indigenous flora and fauna of Pebble Island.

Original article by Arabella Harris

Pebble Island

A Special Collaboration

In 2020, we began a collaboration with world-renowned Scottish cashmere producers Todd & Duncan, a heritage mill nestled on the banks of Loch Leven, to craft a luxuriously soft yarn. Made with the purest cashmere fibres, washed in the fresh water of the ancient loch and gently dyed and blended by dedicated craftspeople whose knowledge has been inherited from generations of Scottish cashmere experts; this precious yarn is pure luxury.

Pure Cashmere, sustainably grown by nomadic farmers in Inner Mongolia, the fibre is spun and dyed in a heritage mill on the banks of Loch Leven.

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Loch Leven is famous in Scotland’s social history, as the location of the castle which imprisoned the ill-fated Mary Queen of Scots, but equally in its rich and world-renowned textile history, having housed the site of Scottish cashmere spinners and innovators Todd & Duncan since 1897. Today the pure waters of the loch, declared a National Nature Reserve in 1964, still play a vital role in the unique production of the purest cashmere. The water’s natural purity and softness helps to open up the cashmere fibres, a process that is essential to achieving the consistent colour and soft handle for which Todd & Duncan is synonymous throughout the fashion and textile trade.

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The delicate fibres are dyed before spinning, a gentle process that gives a superior colour result and finished hand-feel. The dyes used are environmentally friendly, so that all of the water employed in the activity can be cleaned and returned to the loch in a circular process, ensuring that the wildlife including brown trout, pink-footed geese and some 35,000 wintering birds for which Loch Leven has become internationally known, can continue to thrive.

This synergy with nature and respect for natural resources is carried through to the sourcing of the cashmere fibre in partnership with nomadic farming communities from Inner Mongolia. Todd & Duncan work with local de-hairers, encourage sustainable herding and grazing practices and promote high animal welfare standards, and in doing so help to preserve a traditional, nomadic way of life.

Pure Cashmere

The white, downy undercoat of the cashmere goat has been used to make yarn and textiles for hundreds of years, and has been associated with Sultans and Kings since at least the 15th century. Cashmere fibre is finer, stronger and lighter than sheep’s wool and more insulating too. But even today the world production of the raw fibre is small and the gathering and processing are expensive. On average one goat will yield approximately 500g of raw, greasy fibre, which once scoured and de-haired will result in approximately 150g of pure fibre, that’s just about enough to knit a scarf. Working with this precious, pure fibre therefore is a privilege, and we wanted to honour this fibre by collaborating with true artisans in their field who have the skills, experience and knowledge to produce the best quality yarn for the hand knitter. This is why we are proud to share the Todd & Duncan brand name on the label of each hank of yarn: a true marker of authentic quality.

Original article by Arabella Harris

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