craft store reconnaissance: wovember.


Unfortunately, because of that sometimes bothersome beast known as NaNoWriMo, I’m not able to do much else on the interwebs during the month of November. Once I’m done writing for the day, I’m tired of staring at a screen and I just want to knit and ignore everything else.

You’ve probably heard about Wovember, and initiative that is run by the amazing Knitsonik (aka Felicity Ford), Louise Scollay (of KnitBritish), Kate Davies (yeah, the incredible knitwear designer Kate Davies), and Tom van Deijnen (of Tom of Holland). They have been putting together some incredible articles on the Wovember website all about sheep and wool, and it gives some great insight into the worlds of fiber producers.

Unfortunately, wool is being exploited in the fashion and fiber industries, and that’s why Wovember started, to be a wool advocate. Wool is amazing on its own: It has strength, warmth, elasticity, and moisture management. Wool is biodegradable, thus sustainable. In short, wool isn’t synthetic.

In marketing, many yarn and clothing companies use the terms “wool,” “woolly,” and “natural” to convey a feeling. Usually there isn’t any wool, or a very small percentage of wool in the items they produce; most of the product is some form of synthetic fiber. It saves them money. It’s easier for them to work with. They can control every aspect of that fiber when it is synthetic, including softness.

I hate to get too much on my soapbox, but it is really sad for me. Synthetics cannot come close to being what wool is; they are derived from coal. In actuality, synthetic fibers are a form of plastic, and it doesn’t feel good to know that plastics are being passed off as “wool.”

To prove my point, I went to the two things that are closest to yarn stores in my area, Jo-Ann Fabrics and Michael’s craft, and I looked at the yarns that were labelled with “wool,” “woolly,” or “natural.” And these are the results I got. (Please know that early on, I did buy yarn from these places. Now, however, I can’t even look at their yarn sections without shedding a small tear or two. And that might be an exaggeration, but only just. Also, the lighting was terrible in each of those shops, thus limiting how good I could make each photo look.)

Impostor No. 1: Lion Brand “Wool-Ease” (80% acrylic, 20% wool)

IMG_6444IMG_6445

Impostor No. 2: Big Twist “Natural Blend” (80% acrylic 20% wool)IMG_6446IMG_6447

Impostor No. 3: Lion Brand “Woolspun” (80% acrylic 20% wool)

IMG_6468IMG_6469

Impostor No. 4: Loops & Threads “Cozy Wool” (50% acrylic 50% wool)

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And, my favorite:

Impostor No. 5: Loops & Threads “Woolike” (85% acrylic 15% nylon)

IMG_6473IMG_6474

As an added bonus, here’s one that isn’t wool, but I thought deserved a place on this (albeit incomplete) list of charlatan yarn lines:

Imposter No. 6: Buttercream Luxe Craft “Alpaca Solid” (80% acrylic 20% alpaca)

IMG_6448IMG_6449

Because of NaNoWriMo and the new pattern (photos soon!), this is probably going to be the only Wovember post I’m going to do this year. Next year, however, I’ll be prepared. πŸ™‚

So, think about what you wear and what you create with. Think about the impact it has on the earth when its life is done. And by all means, buy wool! (Preferably from an organic small farm that’s local to you … I rest my case.)

Before I can go off on another rabbit trail and distract myself from a certain word count that needs to be completed, I better stop this post.

Thank you for reading and for commenting! You all are so encouraging.

J

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9 thoughts on “craft store reconnaissance: wovember.

  1. I used to buy all my wool from elann.com, but they moved all their products to amazon and only sell bulk now 😦 I can find some wool at Michaels but it’s hard and the selection is really not good.

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    1. So do you mostly shop on other online retailers now? I don’t have an LYS near me, so that’s how I acquire yarn these days. But I agree; in most craft stores, yarn selection is really lacking. πŸ™‚

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      1. No, sadly, I haven’t been buying much wool lately. Probably accounts for my lack of knitting motivation. There’s one wool shop in town, but it’s really expensive and therefore reserved for special occasions…

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  2. Oh I know, finding a decent wool yarn can be a real problem. Fortunately places are stocking it, or are starting up to sell specific wools even. Heck, you can even get single sheep yarns if you look hard enough.

    Mind you, commercially made clothing is still far too heavily reliant on synthetics, even the cotton garments.

    BTW – a thought. Both acrylic and wool are but variants on processed plant matter. Wool is grass etc processed by sheep. Acrylic is Very Old plant matter processed by geology, then extracted, purified and processed by other kinds of plants.

    Somehow I think I’ll stick with the sheep-processed plant matter!

    How’s the writing going? I wondered about NaNoWriMo, then decided to stick with blogging! I get more time for knitting that way and shan’t be behind with the Christmas knitting.

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    1. I love those yarns that have the sheep’s photo on it! I saw a few of those at a fiber festival recently, and I so wanted to buy all of it. πŸ™‚ I like that one! πŸ™‚ Like you, I’d take wool any day over the-other-type-of-plant-processed material. I just cannot get over how awesome that sheep hair is! πŸ™‚

      I wish I’d stick with the blogging, like you. The other writing is a chore, but I will persevere. πŸ™‚ How much Christmas knitting are you doing this year?

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  3. Hi…
    What are you saying is a sad true… I’m not totally against to people who buys “cheap and contaminating yarn” because the other yarns are more expensive and not everybody can afford the prices. I just try to worry about myself, about what I bought and from whom… Fashion Industry is one of the most contaminating industries in the world.. Many companies take advantage of third world countries lack of laws to make cheap product but with high cost in human life and earth… In the past two years I’ve been very concious about what I’m wearing and what relly need to buy. Last Winter ( because now I’m in spring), I decided to make my own sweaters and try not to buy. The result was I bought only one sweater unlike the previous winter, that I bought five. So next winter, I hope I will not buy a sweater anymore.
    I invite you to watch THE TRUE COST (is in netflix) … its a documental about the fashion industry and the lack consciousness big clothes labels have.
    Great post!!!

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