Knitting, Veganvibes

A new chapter…

“Not responding is a response – we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”
Jonathan Safran Foer


I will not talk at length about this in my podcast, just because English is not my mother tongue, and when it comes to topics as this one, I find that it´s hard to find the right words on camera. Just because I have to use some time to find the right ones. Trust me. I tried. So I will refer to this post in my podcast, and if you are curious, you are probably reading this right now.

If you have been following my podcast since the beginning, you will probably have noticed that animal welfare and life is very important to me. I started out as a half-way vegetarian when I was 11, and since then I´ve been excluding more and more animal based food from my diet. I´m 35 years old, now, so it´s been a process for sure. I tried out a vegan diet this January, and I was surprised by how easy it was. And how good I felt doing it. So I just continued eating vegan. 95%. I have eaten a few meals with milk and eggs when visiting Thomas´ family. But I´m gradually avoiding animal based products outside of my home as well.

So. Why is this relevant for my knitting you ask? I´ll tell you. It all started with me wanting to find out how one made silk… or… you don´t make silk. Silk worms do. And to make sure to get the best quality silk as possible the worms are cooked inside the cocoon. I was quite upset to read this. I thought for some reason that the cocoons they used for silk was abandoned “houses”. But alas. I don´t need silk in my life if it means killing a bunch of worms. And I´ve had problems even looking at my pink sweater project since. Not knowing what to do with it. It might be up for adoption. Because I´m not trowing it away. Worms died to make that yarn! But I feel no pleasure knitting on it anymore…

All of this got me thinking. I´ve been telling myself for years that I could use wool, because no harm comes to animals when taking their wool. That wool is just a by-product and all that. But after my silk discovery, I couldn´t just assume that it was all good. After a few weeks I´ve come to the conclution that my shopping habbits as far as wool and yarn goes, will change a lot in the future. I will use or sell what I have in stash. And once that yarn is gone my stash will look a bit different. I will use my woollies, and if I´m gifted woolies I´ll most likely wear them. But I will not support the industry with my own money.

Most vegans I know of will not use any product from animals. I will however use wool, if it´s the right one. Acrylic yarn will never find a home in this house. Plastic yarn is not an option. Not all plant based fibers are good for the environment. Research is needed. I´m on it.

I´ve found a few web shops in Great Britain that sells slaughter free yarn from happy sheep. I´ve also looked into a few plant based yarn blends. Which I of course will talk more about in my podcast. This is not an easy thing to do mind you. I feel like I´m missing out on a lot of fun yarn. But my mind will be at ease. And the patterns are mine for grabs hot yarn or not. And I´ve decided to enjoy my new journey to the fullest, proving that one can be a happy knitter without all the latest trend yarns. And I hope you´ll keep following my adventure in the future.

Needless to say that unless I find a slaughter free way to get my hands on yarn for dyeing, I will not dye more yarn for sale. So no updates with yarn in my etsy shop for a long time, if ever. As I said, I will be knitting with stash yarn for quite a while, so the change of mind will be gradually introduced in the podcast.

What are your thoughts about this?  I´ve made up my mind, but I´d like to hear your thoughts if you have any. Are any of you vegetarians or vegans, and what are your thoughts? And one last thing: If you know of any slaughter free wool or alpaca yarn shops online, I hope you will tell me. They are few and far apart as far as I can tell.

– Lena

20 thoughts on “A new chapter…”

  1. Hello Lena. I’m glad for you that you were able to extend your personal habits and convictions into another area of your life. I may not share the same beliefs of everyone, but find it important to respect them for their choices and give encouragement whenever possible. On that note, have you researched the sourcing of alpaca wool? I don’t know if it’s an industry standard but there is a small farm near me that raises alpacas for the wool and don’t kill to harvest it. Best wishes and looking forward to your new projects.

    1. Here is the link for the alpaca farm that I mentioned:

      Their wool is from the spring shearing. The site is only in French. If something interests you and you are not able to organize with them, let me know by email and I could try to be your go between.

      1. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I was wondering if anyone would after posting this… I´ve read that alpaca isn´t used for meat as much as sheep, because they are viewed as more valuable, but that is about as far as I´ve come. I´ve been in contact with one alpaca farm in Norway. They didn´t use alpaca for the time being, but was looking in to it. So I didn´t feel like buying yarn from them.

        You don´t need to kill anything to harvest the wool. I want to avoid buying yarn from animals that will end up as food. Thank you for the tip. I´ll have a look.

  2. Hi Lena,
    I have not heard this term “slaughter-free” before, so I started to search for more info. Are you aware if this is also a thing for organic wool?
    For me, personally not being a full vegetarian (yet), I can see the benefit of not burning the wool after killing animals for meat, that does not seem right either. But for a vegetarian/vegan, I understand that this cannot be supported.
    As a yarn-seller, I always try to know as much as possible about the yarn I have in stock, and I have decided to move away from superwash and non-organic (or at least non-environmentally friendly, since organic is not a term always to be used for yarn).
    As for Norwegian wool and alpaca, I am quite confident that our local alpaca farms do not slaughter their animals. Spælsau, organic sheep farms and small sheep/goat farms I also think are quite safe. How can it be economic for them to slaughter their flock?
    Just some rambling thoughts from a not-yet-vegetarian-but-definitely-on-the-move 🙂
    It will definitely be interesting to follow your yarn-journey going forth!!

    1. Hello Christine. Thank you for commenting!
      Organic wool is no guarantee that an animal isn´t killed. As far as I know, it means that certain standards as far as treatment of the wool (and animal, as it is attached to it) goes. I believe it means that it is among other things free from pesticides. Which will work in favour for the animal welfare part. But it´s still not slaughter-free.

      I see your point in the “why burn the wool” part, but no, I doesn´t seem right to be so strongly agains everything the industry does to animals, and still find it ok to use the wool. It´s hard to explain in writing. It´s a feeling deep inside. But it´s a personal choice.

      I think it´s wonderful that you as a yarn seller wants to know as much as possible about the yarn you are selling!

      I´ve only been in contact with one Norwegian alpaca farm. They didn´t use their animals for meat at this time, but they had been considering it. For various reasons I didn´t fully agree with. But I haven´t given up. As far as I know Spælsau is supposed to be very tasty, so I guess at least some of them are slaughtered as well. And I wouldn´t bet on organic sheep or goats either. It´s economic because meat pays better than wool I´d guess?

      But I´m planning on contacting people around Norway in hopes of finding someone. If you find out about anyone, please feel free to contact me!

  3. Great post….I too am a vegan and i must admit I had not given animal cruelty a thought when buying yarn!! I have subscribed to Izzy Jane…xx

  4. What a tough decision to make… I admire your principles in this matter. Especially since I am not so strict there.. I do eat vegan, but sure ám no vegan. I still have leather boots and use wool. Like you, I don’t like acrylic, nor do I think that cotton or hemp sweaters will keep me warm enough during winter. My ‘excuse’ is that at least I am doing sómething by eating vegan.. Another aspect is that, when one wants to avoid all animal product and by industrial made vegan clothes – how about child labour ? At least I know that the garment knitted by me was not made by children…

    1. Thank you. I know it will be harder than quitting milk and egg for sure. But I´m determined to find alternatives. I have leather boots, but once they are worn out, I´ll have a look to see if I kind find a substitute. You are doing a lot by eating vegan. And this post was not ment as a critisism of anyone that didn´t share my views.

      Child labour and equal rights for all human is important to me as well. Since Christmas I´ve been very aware of where I buy my clothes and as few clothes as possible. I buy fairtrade. MUDjeans, ethletic, komodo, fair & square. They cost a bit, but when you just buy key items, it´s not that bad.

  5. I received my yarn purchase from you today and they are lovely. I feel guilty saying this what with just having read this post. However the colours are really gorgeous and so saturated.
    So thank you for the lovelies and the progress keepers.
    I will continue to watch your podcasts and am interested in what you discover in regards to yarn sourced from slaughter free farms.
    Thank you.

    1. Thank you for that lovely comment! You shouldn´t feel guilty! I´m so pleased to hear that you liked the colours! I hope you will enjoy the podcast even with these comming changes.

  6. Hi Lena, I just read your post and I agree on the silk worm thing. You convinced me to become a vegan through all your posts ( I too have been vegetarian voor years) I don’t buy any wool with silk content anymore. Still not sure on the not buying “slaughter wool “, but you do have a point. At least I find this topic very interesting, so if you on occasion care to mention your findings, I’d like to hear about them. Who knows if you can convince me once more…..!
    Jo (Codfish)

  7. Thanks for bringing up this topic – it’s definitely something important to consider, and something I need to think about a lot more too (as a vegetarian/ almost vegan).

    I’m sure you will have come across this information elsewhere, but just in case you haven’t – cotton crops use inordinate amounts of pesticide and it’s terrible for planet and the people growing it. So, organic cotton is the way to go, for environmental reasons. I have non-organic cotton in my stash, acquired before I knew better.

    1. Thank you for commenting Melinda! As long as you allow yourself to question your yarn choices, a lot of work is done. I got to a point were I didn´t feel comfortable buying just any yarns. I know that cotton is sometimes very hard on the environment. I haven´t got any cotton in my stash before my “awakening” because I love wool. I´ve fallen in love with Pakucho from Vegan yarns, and I´m currently looking for a perfect pattern for it. It is SO soft, and I think it will make a beautiful top! You should have a look at veganyarns if you haven´t! So many beautiful non-wool yarns!

      1. Thanks Lena- I’ll have a look. (Though I’m not buying anything right now, so maybe I’ll hold off for a while so I’m not too tempted!) 😉

  8. I love hearing about another knitter making this choice! I went vegan a little over a year ago after having been vegetarian for over 3 decades. I’d been mostly vegan a good portion of that time but finally made it official last year. Haha I had planned to use my woolly stash of yarn and fiber, but soon decided to sell off most of the yarn because it just didn’t make me happy to use it. I kept the spinning fiber though I haven’t spun much either since then. I only purchase plant fibers these days and avoid those that are tough on the environment as well. It definitely limits what comes into the stash! I do hope you discuss this from time to time on your podcast. There aren’t many of us who do and several of the other podcasters I’ve seen who eat a vegan diet still happily support the wool industry. This is absolutely a personal choice, but does make me a little sad. Many knitters/crocheters just aren’t aware how the industry works. Most think that because the animals don’t die when being sheared that all is well. Sadly, of course, that’s not the case.

    1. Hello Karen, and thank you for this comment. My plan is to use most of the stash, but sell some of it. I´ve already sold most of my spinning fiber. Used the money to buy slaughter-free or plant yarn. I´m fully aware that not all plant fiber are good for the environment, so I´m trying to educate myself. Do you spin plant fiber as well? What fibers would you recommend for someone who is completely new to plant fiber?

      I will be talking about my decision from time to time. I just have to try out some yarns first, and read more about it. Some times it is easier to write about it in the blog, due to the whole second language thing. But if I plan better, I will have a bit more to talk about. My newest episode was filmed on a whim in my pajamas, so not much planning happening there…

      Thank you for this comment! I´m so happy to hear from other yarn sceptics!

      Love, Lena

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