When I first started blogging about my knitting a little over two years ago, I wrote a post about yarn. At that time, I did not really care what I was knitting with, and I often found myself buying acrylic yarn from big box stores. I often knitted with acrylic because it seemed like the most affordable choice. I also felt out of place when I visited a yarn shop, and I felt judged by the store clerks and other patrons. I also did not know about the environmental impacts my choices could be having or all of the wonderful benefits of wool and other natural fibers. Acrylic still has its time and place, but my tune could not be more different now in terms of what I buy and where I buy it from.
What caused this change?
I got much more serious about my knitting. I started listening to podcasts and doing more reading. With that, I began to try different yarns and fibers, and I came to understand the difference in quality. I sniffed the yarn fumes (quite literally – I LOVE the smell of wool).
I’ve also found several local yarn shops that are some of the most welcoming, warm and helpful places. My favorites are Tolt Yarn and Wool, Mad Cow Yarns, Whidbey Isle Yarns and Teas, Weaving Works, and Fidalgo Artisan Yarns. Since I started knitting, the community of young knitters has really grown, so I think shops are more accustomed to seeing younger yarn-lovers. I’ve also learned to be more confident in my knowledge of yarn, fiber, and knitting. More recently, I truly have experienced the kindness of other knitters.
Learning to spin has also reinforced my appreciation for animal fibers. It is a pretty amazing thing that dirty wool can be transformed into fluffy roving and then into yarn.
Finally, moving and striving twoard creating a more sustainable lifestyle has also made me much more conscious of my choices when it comes to where to shop for yarn and fiber. When I first learned to knit, I didn’t stop to think about what “acrylic” meant and how bad it is for the environment. The wool processing carries a footprint, but it is less of one. Wool is also compostable, whereas those acrylic fibers take much longer to break down. I’ve also, largely, avoided heavily dyed and superwash yarns, when possible because they, similarly, have a larger chemical footprint. Of course, I still like a deal and pretty colors, so I will still buy from some larger sellers like Craftsy, Knit Picks, or Cascade Yarns – no one is perfect, right?
In general, though, I’ve made an effort to knit with more wool, and I’ve loved the results. There are some great US wool producers that do all of their sourcing and production here, and they are worth supporting. Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co., and locally produced yarns have yielded beautiful results.
As I reflect on my knitting/fiber journey, I am so glad that I’ve come to understand and appreciate natural fibers and wooly-wools. We all have to start somewhere, so I do not regret my past knits (well, I might regret that knitted tube top and all of the acrylic sweaters). But, I am so happy to have learned more about wool and the wool industry.
What yarns do you love? Where do you buy yarn? What guides your yarn choices?