Sunday, 28 February 2010

Fair Trade Yarn

It's Fairtrade Fortnight here in the UK! I thought I might feature a few of my favourite Fair Trade/co-operative-made yarns that help ensure safe and well-paid working conditions for the people that make our most beloved fibres.

Creator of lovely hand-dyed yarns such as thick-and-thin Wool Classica and Silk Blend, this co-operative employs over 800 women in rural areas of Uruguay, giving them job stability and a fair price for their well-skilled labour.

Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend

I've had four skeins of this lovely stuff sitting in my stash for a while now, and I'm still trying to figure out the perfect project for it. My skein of sunset-coloured Silk Blend with its contrasting partner, Black, is destined for a stranded hat, but I just need to find the time to write up a pattern for it!

From co-operatives in South Africa comes Be Sweet, a clothing and yarn producer that specialises in fun, textured, natural-fibre yarn and interesting pieces. They're branching out into more non-textured yarn as they grow their business, and how have a large and varied selection, from organic cotton/bamboo rayon mix yarn Bambino, to supremely more interesting yarn such as T-Shirt, a yarn made guessed it, recycled t-shirts.

T-shirt (image from Bee Sweet Website)

One of my favourite indie dyers is Jeni of Fyberspates. A dyer who's recently moved shop to Oxfordshire (a county I'm, admittedly, a little biased toward), she's committed to sourcing her yarn from "only good karmic places."

Fyberspates Faery Wings 4ply, from my stash

My Leiden Lace Scarf is made from Fyberspates 100% Mongolian Cashmere Lace-weight

From her website:

We carefully source all of our yarns, we have personally visited nearly all the places that Fyberspates yarn have been manufactured. We buy yarn from the UK, Peru, Italy, Spain and the USA. These manufacturers have very high standards of production, and have good working standards for their employees, which is something we value highly.

She goes on to assure her customers that if the hasn't visited the place where the yarn has come from, she'll let us know. I don't know about you, but I really appreciate that kind of transparency in business practices. Well done, Jeni!

What are some of your favourite ethical yarns?

Monday, 22 February 2010


I was eagerly looking forward to my retreat with friends last weekend, glad for the break and for some well-deserved knitting time on my sorely neglected Ravelympics project. But that really didn't happen. Ended up climbing half-way up Snowdon in the snow (fortunately no ice, but note to self: need new shoes. Preferably dry ones). All in all, I got about a centimeter of knitting done.

Got some pretty good pictures, though.





And, because it's Wales, the requisite sheep picture.

Also posted a new pattern on Ravelry before I left, the Jungle Cowl

February 1st through February 28th, 10% of all pattern proceeds will go to the British Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund.
With twisting cabled vines and reaching branches, this wild cowl will spice up your winter wardrobe, or dress it up in a more subdued color. The buttoned up side allows a little more breathing room.
Needles and Notions
US 8 (5.00mm) needles circular needles, at least 24in/60cm long
Four or Five .75inch/18mm buttons (depending on desired height of cowl)
Cable Needle
Tapestry Needle

Finished Measurements
9in/23cm tall and 20in/51cm wide (unstretched and unbuttoned)

The Jungle Cowl is available for £2.00 GBP at my Ravelry store (which you can now visit even if you don't have a Ravelry account! Go check it out). 


Monday, 8 February 2010

Letting Go

I'm always somewhat loathe to give up my knitwear, which makes me feel as though my mantle of "Selfish Knitter" is particularly apt. However, the time comes in a young woman's life where she has to reevaluate her wardrobe and decide what's actually worth keeping.

The U-Neck vest is special to me because I worked on while I was in Peru and, despite language barriers, used it to teach a girl to knit. But specialness kind of stops there. It's always been a bit too small and too tight across the shoulders, so I thought if I wasn't going to wear it, I should give it to someone who would appreciate it more. Looking back at a previous blog post about this vest, I can see how far my knitting has come; back then, this vest was "good enough" that I was ecstatic with it; now that I can look at it with an eye that's more aware of what looks good on me, my affection has cooled enough to let it go to the good home of my friend Jo.

Claudia was the first hat I made for my boyfriend. Well, the second if you count its first reincarnation as a hat that didn't fit. And of course, the second one didn't either, but since both he and I have huge heads, someone else could enjoy it (namely, EllaJ).

Some purple tank top from an earlier issue of Vogue Knitting (not pictured) was one of my first "serious" knitting projects, but it also fell about 4 inches above my belly button. It's found a new home with my friend Kaz.

My fellow Washingtonian ex-pat and friend Rachel was kind enough to host the clothing exchange and invite friends with extremely good taste. So while my knitwear might have been hard to give up, the trade was definitely worth it.

For pretty, comfortable t-shirts (and an angora jumper),

pretty details, and a wardrobe ready for Spring.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Foggy Day

So it's no Snow Day, but it's Saturday and I think I'm allowed some down time. Time to clear out the sitting room, settle down with my The Office DVDs and Rowan Felted Tweed, and get some knitting done.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Pattern Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to all you amazing people who entered the Charity of the Month pattern giveaway. All the winners have been contacted by Ravelry (except for Nightphoenix! Nightphoenix, if you see this, can you post or pm me your contact info and pattern of choice and I'll send it to you?).

Thanks to everyone who entered! Hopefully there will be another giveaway soon.


Monday, 1 February 2010

February Charity of the Month: British Red Cross Haiti Appeal

Continuing into February with Haiti support, I'm taking Emily's suggestion for February, with the Charity of the Month being the British Red Cross.

The need in Haiti is so overwhelming right now, but it's heartening to see the difference that is finally being made there. I've also been reading a fellow Raveler's blog (she's a Canadian who was working at an orphanage near Port-au-Prince, and has been able to update her blog following the earthquake). Obvious warning: This blog does contain images that will be disturbing, and might not be for everyone's constitution.

Starting February 1st through February 28th, 10% of all pattern proceeds will go to the British Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund.

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions, and I'll definitely be working my way through them in the coming months!  You helped me to raise £200 (that's about $320 USD) to give to Doctors without Borders/MSF. I (very obviously) couldn't have done it without you!

The Charity of the Month pattern giveaway is still running until Midnight tonight (GMT), so get the name of your favorite charities in there and, maybe, win yourself a pattern!