Sunday, September 18, 2005

Green Knitting -Who Speaks for the Trees?

I just saw my little nephew for a few days. He's 15 months old and is a man of few words -kind of like his daddy that way. But he'll bring you a book and crawl in your lap and sit there while you read words he can't possibly understand. For some reason, he kept bring me The Lorax, which is way too long and complex for him to follow just yet. He apparently didn't care. And I certainly didn't mind having a sweet little boy with a book in my lap again.

In The Lorax, a knitting frenzy causes an environmental disaster. Great. Now I'm the villain in a children's morality tale. But before I go buy a triple-axe-hacker and start chopping down truffula trees, there are probably changes I can make. And just possibly they'll move me out of the full-rant mode that is so attractively displayed in my previous few posts. Sorry about that.

I suppose the claim can be made that the biggest environmental damage from knitting comes from the dyes. Generally, they're pretty reactive and dangerous. But there are ways around this problem, one being color-grown yarn. I know of two sources:

Pakucho yarn -color grown, fair trade, organic cotton -what's not to love?
Ecological Wool I made a beautiful (if I do say so) fair isle sweater from Ecological Wool -and then left it on a plane somewhere. Once more into the fray, trying to get a fair isle sweater into my wardrobe! Sigh...

I'm sure there are more, and I'd love to hear about them.

Of course, there are also the fair trade issues that spring up in every consumer item we purchase. How much of what we buy actually goes to the artisans?
Manos del Uruguay is a cooperative of artisans scattered throughout the countryside of Uruguay, formed to bring economic and social opportunities to rural women. And their yarn is beautiful and soft.
Araucunia is another women's cooperative, in Chile. I haven't used this one myself, but I hear good things.

For people who want vegan alternatives:
Soy silk
Banana Yarn
Bamboo yarn -I haven't used this yet, but my knitting friend Terry made herself a beautiful summer cami with it. It's soft and drapes beautifully and has a wonderful rich color.

What do we do about needles? The rosewood ones are so beautiful. I haven't found them in circulars yet, so I don't have any. So if someone tells me they're bad, I guess I'm safe there. I have lots of bamboo and lots of birch, though. Are those okay? I suppose the Swallow cassein ones are probably not harmful to the universe, but have you tasted them? Oh my lands! When someone told me that the needles tasted bad, I thought "Yeah, and Freud wrote about YOU. Why are your knitting needles in your mouth?" and then I used them and discovered that my needles do spend time in my mouth. Gross, but true. So I'm not crazy about the Swallow needles.

And why, after 40 years of knitting, am I still buying needles? Maybe I should go back to that on-line confesssional and confess acquisitiveness ;) But I really don't have a triple-axe-hacker and truffula trees are safe in my care!

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