Ive been knitting for nearly ten years now, during which time I quite quickly developed an affliction for natural fibres and bright colours from indie dyers. But this wool thing…it all started 4 years ago at my one and only visit to Edinburgh Yarn Festival where the lovely Rachel Atkinson was launching her new Daughter of a Shepherd yarn.
Wool has always had an undeserved reputation for being itchy. After researching different breeds, I’ve come to understand that whilst some wools are not the softest directly against the skin, it doesn’t mean they can’t serve a purpose and fulfil their textile value.
But it’s not just the textile qualities of each of the different breeds that I’m interested in. Its the stories of the farmers; the land the sheep have roamed. Where has the wool come from? How do we use our wool?
What about knitting?
Once I started looking into some of these stories, I started to realise just how huge the knitting industry is. I’ve started to think about the environmental impact being a knitter can have and the two sides of the animal welfare story that seems to be getting louder as time goes on. What impact does our use of man made materials as knitters have on the farming industry?
Of course, you cannot mention knitters and not talk about community. Writing at a time of crisis as the COVID19 pandemic continues, we realise the value of both our face to face and online interactions as a community. But this doesn’t come without divide; the last 18 months in particular has seen voices heard who haven’t been given the opportunity to be heard previously; this hasn’t been without unnecessary detriment to those people. Our community has made steps to begin to become more inclusive, but this work is far from consistent or widely impactful. How do we continue to address the inequalities within the community, and strive for an equitable experience for all knitters? Is this even possible when there is still so much blindness to the issues impacting so many members of our community?
We are not just knitters.
I think it’s fair to conclude that yes, I really do have this thing with wool. Knitting is political, and I believe that we have a duty to be aware of our impact. On others, on the environment, and within our communities. Can we use knitting as a starting point for making positive change within the world?
There’s only one way to find out, and I’d love for you to join me on this journey. No, I won’t just stick to knitting.