Amazing colour from Turkey
This exciting, family-run yarn company specialises in special fibres and vivid, glorious colourways produced by artisan dyers in Turkey
ONCE SEEN, the vivid, astonishing colourways produced by Urth Yarns are never forgotten. This small, artisan company made a big impact around the world when it launched Uneek – a range of self-striping yarns which work spectacularly when knitted on their own, or in combination with solid colours. Since then, the company has gone on to launch more stunning products using special fibres and dyeing techniques.
Family-owned and run, Urth Yarns was established in 2016; the founders were the third generation of the Koc family, which has been involved in
Turkey’s yarn industry since the 1950s. “When we set up Urth Yarns, we decided to focus on creating hand-dyed yarns because it allowed us to be more creative,” explains head of business development, Emir Koc, who along with his brothers Emre and Efe is part of the team running Urth Yarns. “From the start, we were committed to creating innovative yarns using high-quality natural materials. All of our collections are designed to create magical colour effects.”
The production of Urth’s yarns takes place in Turkey, and the company has a hand-dyeing studio in Mersin, in the south-eastern part of the country. Yarns are prepared and dyed by teams of skilled women, and the Koc family is proud of the fact that they have been able to offer employment opportunities to large numbers of women who typically have struggled to find work outside of the home.
The company also employs a team of knitters to produce samples for yarn stores which showcase the colour changes of each yarn. Urth works with both its own in-house team of designers, and with independent designers, to develop knitting patterns. “We love working with independent designers, because they bring such a diversity from all around the world to our collections,” says Emir. “We also like to see how different designers utilise our yarns for different ideas.”
The team looks closer to home when it comes to planning colours. “We have two sources of inspiration for colourways: first is our head of dyers, who has been in the dyeing industry for long time,” says Emir. The second source, he says, is his mother, who herself used to run a yarn shop: “We always trust her advice on colour choices and trust her taste!”
Uneek was the first yarn range from Urth, and it quickly became a big hit with yarn stores across the United States. “The Uneek collection offers one of the most colourful yarns ever, with its subtle colour changes,” says Emir. “By combining very high quality merino wool with the unique dyeing effect which we’d developed, we were able to reach significant numbers of yarn shops in the US.”
Uneek Fingering is still the company’s most popular yarn, reports Emir. “Second would be our Uneek Sock, because it’s such an innovative product which enables knitters to make a pair of self-striping socks that are perfectly identical.”
The Monokrom range offers soft, tonal variations in colour, and includes merino and cotton options. More contrasting colour combinations are offered with the bulky Koozoo wool and the cotton Galatea 3ply, while Kashmir is a luxurious pure cashmere 4ply in semi-solid colourways.
Harvest is a particularly exciting range, as it is all hand-dyed using roots, fruits and nuts that are grown in south-eastern Turkey. The shade names indicate which plant sources were used – so there are colours such as black grape, pistachio, mint, walnut and cherry, and the most amazing shade of yellow which is produced, rather surprisingly, from pomegranates.
This connection to the natural world is central to everything Urth Yarns does. “We firmly believe in giving back to nature,” says Emir. “With our ‘Knit One, Plant One’ programme, we have committed to planting a tree in Africa for every skein of yarn we ship.”
Today, Urth Yarns’ main market is North America, as the Koc family are based in Florida, but their products now reach yarn stores all around the world, including the UK. “We are proud to say that our yarns are available in all continents - it is a very fulfilling feeling to see our ideas embraced by people around the world.”
Like so many other businesses, Urth had plenty of challenges to face during the Covid-19 pandemic. “Our biggest challenges were in the logistics and production departments,” reports Emir. “Hand dyeing yarns understandably requires skilled labour, so any time we got the news that someone in our atelier tested positive, we would have to stop the entire production. In addition to that, we were affected by national lockdowns. But, thankfully, no one in the company ever got infected.”
So what’s next for Urth Yarns? “We are always looking to create new colourways and yarn collections,” says Emir. “We have just introduced a limited edition called Harmony, a special rainbow-effect yarn. We are also introducing a new collection called 16. It will first be sold in a limited number of yarn shops in America, but by the autumn it should be more widely available. We believe it is one of the finest yarns we created. We also hope to be able to exhibit at yarn shows again - we have missed meeting knitters in person!” ●
- Discover more about the full range at Urth Yarns and find your nearest stockist at www.urthyarns.com