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Saturday, 31 August 2013

'Green' knitting

I was asked to put a few words together for a friend, with a view to her giving out some hints and tips on 'eco' knitting at a green fair her knitting group is attending. This is what I've put together, there are a lot more things I could say (can talk and talk on knitting for hours on end............), but these give some good starting points and food for thought.

'While knitting won't change the world per se, it can make it a much nicer place to be for lots of reasons. Knitting can be an expensive hobby, or it can make a great contribution to your and others' eco-awareness; here are a few tips of mine, gleaned from over 45 years of knitting experience. Use them as a starting point and go off on a wonderful wool-filled journey that will bring you untold hours of pleasure and satisfaction.

- avoid new man-made fibres and yarns where you can. Acrylic, for example, is made of oil derivatives

- buy British wool, or at least British spun wool wherever you can - support the local economy. This is getting much easier courtesy of the internet and a growing awareness of and interest in native breeds of sheep. Think   wool miles and British farmers.

- visit shows, farms, etc to meet sheep and find out about them, talk to as many people as you can, watch shearing, ask questions.

- knitting wool appears in many, many places, often unexpected - keep your eyes open! Scour charity shops, jumble sales, boot sales etc, also for needles and other knitting accessories.

- the internet is a great resource - free patterns, blogs, advice, online tutorials, all sorts. Try e-bay, Youtube, and

-look out for worn woollen jumpers to unravel; carefully unpick them and wind the wool into skeins, wash gently, hang to dry then wind into balls and re-knit.--

- join a knitting group; if there isn't one near you, start one - great social thing as well as valuable knitting time!

-let people know you knit and regular supplies of wool, patterns, etc will come your way when they know you can use them

-use your library; borrow knitting books to see which are the best ones for you to invest in, before laying out hefty sums for books you may only look at a few times. Scour all the above suggestions for second-hand books too, and vintage patterns.

- buy balls of cotton and part-balls from the above sources too and knit dishcloths - they make lovely and thoughtful 'green' presents too.

-it's possible to buy naturally dyed wool too - rowan do a range of very beautiful colours (but not all are made in the UK, read the labels), and try e-bay etc for  odds and ends of bargains

- try natural dyeing for yourself to create truly unique garments - again, use the internet and your library

- if you really get ito it and want to take it further, I would highly recommend joining your local Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers - details of local groups are on the main website. A wealth of experience, friendly advice and help, excellent talks, exhibitions, outings - all sort of fibre related goings on

- never turn down any offers of wool, needles, patterns etc. Even if you can't use it yourself, you can share and give it away, or swap it.  Build up a good stash.

- and last  but not least, knitting is good for you. It's meditative, relaxing and productive. Take your knitting with you and you will get people coming up and talking to you, often reminiscing, but usually with a good story or two to tell.  In the hustle ad bustle of today's world, even a few minutes of knitting can really ground you and steady your mind.

I hope these few tips have inspired you and encouraged to take up knitting or move on if you already do. Now - go and knit something and enjoy the process as well as the finished article :)

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