Knitting

A quick look at 2017

Happy New Year everyone! It seemed appropriate to do a quick review of the year that has come and gone, so here it is, along with my most liked pictures on Instagram in 2017. I do love that my beautiful boy Gustav is right in the middle of it!

2017 was the year I

  • Decided to cut my hear short.
  • Signed up for Veganuary and after that started eating vegan food on a permanent basis.
  • Said goodbye to my old car and bought a new, more grown-up one! (It´s still yellowish though…)
  • Took a long hard look at was I was spending my money on and started buying more ethical, fair trade clothes and stopped shopping at H&M (my former go to shop)
  • Decided that I wanted to do something about what yarn I was knitting with, and are currently in the progress of swapping most of my current yarn for more ethical fibre.
  • Started podcasting again!

Next year I will keep working on all of the above (but I don´t need another car…). And I want to read more books. Thomas and I have decided that we should have a library date every month, so that is on tomorrow! I´m also (yet again), trying to keep this blog a bit more updated, so we´ll see how that goes…

“You can find magic
wherever you look.
Sit back and relax,
all you need is a book.”

Dr. Seuss…

Veganvibes, Yarn

Alternative yarn choices

Ethical wool

From sheep or other wolly beeings that are not going to be dinner. Some of the shops on this list are breeding animals and selling them (And they might or might not become food at one point.) For some, this might be an issue. And to tell you the truth, I´m not 100% comfortable with it either. But, people who sells wool from slaughter-free flocks are few and far between. So maybe we shouldn´t be to difficult? If we raise the demand for slaughter-free wool, we might be able to change future sheep farmers way of life and that is something we should keep in mind. But again, whatever you choose, do what feels right for you!

The companies marked with * has said that they do not sell the offspring. That might be the case with some of the others as well, but this is not yet confirmed.

In Norway:

Kosesauene*

In Europe:

Woolliefarm on Etsy

Alfie Purl 

Izzy Lane

The Doulton Flock on Etsy

The living rug company*

Home farm Wensleydales

A Cookley yarn* (Sells pure mohair yarn and wool from her own little herd of angora goats.)

Other natural fibers

There are so many beautiful yarns that are not harvested from a living being. And if wool is not for you, there is no reason why you shouldn´t be knitting. I would however advice you to take a close look at what you purchase as a substitute for wool. Yarn with acrylic or other non-natural content gives off microplastic particles that does great harm to a multiple of living beings. It might seem like our personal yarn choices makes little or no difference at all if you look at the big picture, but a little goes a long way. If you are somehow not familiar with microplastics, I urge you to read this article from The Guardian. It talks about a lot more than clothing, but it is (or should be) a wake-up call.

As far as cotton goes, it is not necessarily a good, environmental choice. Read about the cotton farming´s impact on the earth in this article from WWF. Some cottons are really bad for the environment. Some are a better choice. (But maybe non of them are great?)

Veganyarn

Olines cotton 8/4 

Blackhill Recycle Cotton Tweed

Go Handmade Tencel/Bamboo

Växbo lin

Drops loves you #6  (Recycled cotton)

Drops loves you #9 (Recycled cotton)

Drops Paris Recycled Denim (Not all the Paris yarn is recycled!)

Pickles Thin Organic cotton

Pickles Booboo

If you have stores or yarns you want to add to this list let me know and I´ll keep it updated. If you have comments or corrections on the companies mentioned in this post let me know, and I will investigate further.

And remember: Ethical yarns may be a bit more expensive than other yarns, but do you really need a gianormous stash? A lot of the yarn I´ve hoarded in the past is just laying around. If I spend my yarn money on ethical yarn and only (or almost only, because face it, once a yarn harlot always a yarn harlot…) buy yarn for spesific projects, it will not be all that expensive.

A blog post written in Guilt Free Vegetarian about the topic of ethical wool that one of my podcast watchers showed me.

 …

Knitting with ethical yarn, Veganvibes

Løvfallgenser

I knitted my first sweater with ethical wool this November. And it was a wonderful experience! The yarn I used was Izzy Lane in the natural grey colourway. At first I wasn´t sure about what I thought about the wool. It seemed a bit scratchy, but I have experience with other wool yarns that appear scratchy at first, but that blooms after wash and wear, so I carried on.  It was a pleasure to knit with. Not splitty at all, and the knitted fabric got a nice halo. I haven´t worn it enough to comment on the amount of pilling yet, but all my woolies tend to pill, so I will get back to you on that.

This is Izzy Lane´s story in their own words:

“During an encounter with an organic producer I discovered that farmers were burning and burying their wool in protest. The pittance they were paid didn’t even cover their shearing costs. One look around the High Street showed very little wool and no British wool at all. What there was, was being imported from Australasia where there is dubious animal welfare with the practice of mulesing commonplace and the live export of hundreds of thousands of animals to the Middle East. I decided I would start a British fashion label using wool.
However, as a vegetarian, I needed wool from sheep which would not be killed. I looked across the UK and I researched across the world, and save a few pet sheep, I realised there were none. My only way forward would be to have my own flock. I wouldn’t breed them I would rescue them – which is what I did. In a short space of time I rescued 600 hundred of them – ewes which had miscarried or missed a pregnancy, male lambs – if it was going to be killed I would take it. I though of course had to pay the market prices. I focused on Shetlands and Wensleydales for the quality of their wool. Needless to say I ended up with some other breeds too – some which I intercepted which were on their way to a halal abattoir
I pieced together the chain of processors I would need. It took a long time. There were weavers, spinners and dyers, shutting down on a daily basis. I found the last of 52 worsted spinners in Calderdale – now shut. I tried to find a button maker, there used to be hundreds in Birmingham, the only remaining one was a working museum. Eventually in 2007 I launched my brand Izzy Lane with two imperatives – to help save the British textile industry – and closer to my heart – to give animals a voice in the fashion industry, as they had none. Up until now, there had been no traceability whatsoever of animal fibre.
As well as creating a cool fashion label, Izzy Lane was also a powerful platform to raise awareness and campaign for animal rights. It went on to win RSPCA Awards in 2008 and 2012, New Designer of the Year at the RE Awards and were finalists in the Observer Awards, the Daily Mirror Animal Heroes Awards and the Global Sustainable Luxury Awards. It has received extensive national and international press and was featured in two series of ITV The Dales and other BBC TV and radio shows. Our collections have been exhibited at London Fashion Week and in Paris, Milan, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York and Las Vegas and in a catwalk for the Queen !
Izzy Lane uses the wool from our beautiful sheep which will live out their lives in peace here in the Yorkshire Dales. Your support will secure their future and ensure their voice is heard – that sheep can exist without being eaten. Animal welfare is at the core of Izzy Lane, the animals will always come first.”

I knitted a pattern that is so far only available in Norwegian. It´s called Løvfallgenser and it´s made by Strikkelisa. I didn´t have any plans to knit a sweater, but then I saw this on Instagram and I just had to buy the pattern the same day it was released and I started knitting it right away. It´s a top down construction, and that is, by far, one of my favorite ways to knit sweaters!

I used my beloved Chiaogoo needles for this projects in sizes 2.75mm and 3.75mm. I chose to knit a size XL because I have a firm grip on my needles which gives me a rather tight gauge. I did not knit a swatch, and was happy to find out that the sweater was a perfect fit once it was done. I followed the pattern as written, did the short rows and all! (Yay me!) As always, I did german short rows, because everything else  just looks terrible when I knit it…

When I weighed my sweater I was surprised to find out that it only weighed a little less than 300g. That means that I used just 6 balls of yarn!

As far as my fear that the sweater would turn out scratchy goes, I just wore it with a simple strap top underneath the other day, and it didn´t scratch at all once it got the same temperature as my skin. I find that this is a issue I´m having with all my sweaters. Cold wool clothes always tend to feel a bit rough next to the skin before they are warmed up.

It´s hard to say what will be scratchy or not, people are different. But this is not merino soft wool. If you are afraid that it might not be for you, order a ball, you could maybe knit a swatch, try to wash it and see what you think, or what whomever you are planning to knit for thinks?

I know that Izzy Lane has a beautiful yellow color in their range, so I´m definitely using this yarn again! Thumbs up!

…I will …

Knitting with ethical yarn, Veganvibes

Roma mittens

This fall I knitted mittens for my mother´s birthday in November. I knew she had worn out the ones she knitted for herself, and I also wanted to try knitting with some of my ethical yarn. The yarn I knitted these mittens in is from Hooligan Yarn.

The mittens are Roma mittens by Matilda Kruse, and I knitted them on 2.75mm needles, to get a dense fabric that will last for a long while. My mother uses her mittens when she walks the dogs, and I knew from the quality of the yarn, that these would felt in the palm of the hand, and be perfect for the intended use. (Her previous mittens were in superwash yarn, and they don´t felt, but sadly get holes rather quick if you have eager dogs…)

Now, let´s talk about the yarn. Hooligan Yarns have the following message on their page:

“It’s essential for the welfare of sheep that they’re shorn at least once a year, but the fleece is often disposed of or given away for next to nothing. I liked the idea of producing a ‘single sheep’ yarn that promoted a high welfare message.
The boys were originally called The Hooligans because of their boisterous behaviour and unerring knack of seeking out trouble, and although the girls are generally better behaved, they also have their moments. And so Hooligan Yarns was born!
We have mostly Gotland sheep, with some interesting crosses with Teeswater and Shetland that make unusual, beautiful wool. Some new additions of rescued Jacobs and Lleyn crosses provide a traditional alternative to the Gotland blends. Our yarns are machine spun in UK mills. Batches are produced by individual sheep fleece with the name and details of each boy or girl provided as a story postcard with every order, including a photo. So you know exactly who you’re knitting, and who you’re wearing.”

I got the most lovely package when I got the yarn I ordered. Pictures of the sheep, in this case from the sheep Guthrie who is a Gotland sheep. (The yarn is a DK ply with  160m per 100g ball from their spring 2017 shearing.) And a story about who Guthrie is. Truly charming mail!

This yarn was perfect for mittens, and I suspect also for socks, but I don´t think I´d knit shawls or sweaters with it, because it was quite rough. The fabric got a nice halo, which I think is beautiful, but it wasn´t perhaps the best match with the pattern of choice. But my mother was very happy when she unwrapped them, so I suspect I´m too judgy…

The patterning on the top of the mittens disappeared  into the fluff the yarn created. But you sort of get the idea…

My mother has by now used the mittens many many times, and she can confirm that they are warm and that they have felted by wear to be perfect for dog walking! And I have enough yarn left to knit another pair of mittens!