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A Word About Wool.

If you saw me yesterday when I was picking up yarn at Micheal’s on my way home from work, you might have thought I lost my mind as I squealed and danced in the yarn aisle. I didn’t. I’m just really really happy about this Bernet “Really Big” yarn.

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In my pre-vegan life I was an avid knitter, crocheter, weaver… you name it, anything related to fiber. I was attempting to learn to tat and I even have a spinning wheel! When I went vegan I had such a hard time finding yarn I liked that was wool-free that I kind of gave up the hobby and moved on to other things. {Side note: I gave up tatting because it’s so hard to find someone to teach you, not because of the wool thing, I used cotton. If you know of anyone giving lessons in the Salt Lake area, let me know!}

At first, I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t using wool.* I just didn’t because I knew it wasn’t vegan. I heard things but just didn’t really think about it much until one time when I was volunteering at Ching Farm Rescue and Sanctuary. It was my job to feed the pigs on Tuesdays but one day in the Spring I was invited to help shear the sheep.

While I was helping I learned a few things; first, being sheared is an incredibly stressful experience for the sheep, second, sheep only need to be sheared ONCE A YEAR, llamas only need to be sheared ONCE EVERY TWO YEARS. Holy crap! Talk about never. That fact combined with the not very large amount of wool that was a product of the day, really struck a cord with me.

If sheep only need a hair cut once a year and they don’t produce that much wool in the first place, where is all the wool that fills the products in stores coming from? When sheep live a good life like they do in a sanctuary, and like they all should, there just isn’t enough of a supply of wool to fill the demands of the fashion and design community.

Obviously there is some shady sh*t going on in the way sheep and similar animals are being treated if they are producing enough fiber to meet this demand. I’m not going to detail it all out to here because I researched it and if I try typing out out I will end up a sobbing mess. But I do suggest you look into it, especially if you use the product. You should know where it comes from. This link is a good starting point.

Needless to say, now whenever I find a good yarn that is wool-free I HAVE to grab it. Bernet Really Big is the first I’ve found that has the chunky homespun look I love. It’s 100% acrylic and SUPER SOFT. Since it’s so chunky, it knits up very fast. I totally recommend it.

Here is a sneak peek of my current project using it in the color, Zanzibar, I’ll have the tutorial up soon, it’s really quick and easy.

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*I should clarify that went I went vegan I quit purchasing wool, silk and leather. I donated most of what I already owned but there are a few items in my closet still that have a percentage of wool or silk in them. It was a struggle but I decided that I didn’t want to replace EVERYTHING because it just creates more consumption and waste. Some items I’ll own until they wear out and then I’ll replace with vegan alternatives. This is a decision that all of my vegan friends have understood and supported but surprisingly I get a lot of crap from omnivores for.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • luminousvegans January 19, 2012, 8:15 PM

    This blog post makes me so happy! A fellow vegan knitter who actually uses non-animal yarn…I’ve come across many knitters who say they are vegan but use wool. And thank you for sharing your experience with the sheep. I think you’re right in that it can be difficult to see the suffering in the wool production. People have said to me that the sheep have to get sheared otherwise it would overwhelm them so we’re actually doing them a favor. However, I think they breed them funny to make them produce more wool the same way they mess with chickens and cows….shady business indeed.

    • mskristiina January 19, 2012, 8:46 PM

      I’m glad you liked it! Thank you!

  • Lower back pain relief January 23, 2012, 11:50 PM

    I really appreciate what you post. You have a new subscriber now.

    • mskristiina January 24, 2012, 3:31 PM

      Thanks!

  • Amanda June 13, 2012, 8:22 AM

    Stumbled upon your blog from… pinterest maybe? I don’t remember! But I love the vegan knitting post – I am always on the look-out for soft vegan yarns, especially chunky ones. One of my favorite vegan yarns is LionBrand’s Baby’s First (http://www.lionbrand.com/yarns/babysfirst.html). I do wish it came in more colors, especially ones that weren’t so pastel, but it is so freaking soft and comfy! I made my niece a baby blanket with it and almost kept it for myself, it was that good. My cats were in agreement. I keep meaning to try dying the white colorway but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    • mskristiina June 13, 2012, 9:51 AM

      Thank you for the comment and the link to the yarn! Let me know if you try dying it. I would love to see how it turns out. I might try it some time too. It’s so hot right now I’m having hard time thinking about knitting but I should because I’ll want cozy knits come Fall.

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