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 …