As a knitter myself I want to try and address a few major issues that bug me more than anything else in the Knitting and Crochet world.
So many people are happy using acrylic yarn!
Yes it's soft, yes it's easy to wash, yes it's cheap, but the reality of using acrylic is that your garment is plastic! Bury it in the ground (in landfill) and it'll not decompose for over 500 years - by buying and wearing acrylic you are inadvertently polluting the planet. There are so many reasons why natural wool yarn is better and it really doesn't take so much time to care for and clean a 100% wool garment!
Benefits of wool yarn (Breed Specific Wool)
There are so many benefits to using natural wool yarns - and more so when you can utilise the properties of certain sheep breeds to give you a yarn suitable for your application. If you're camping and hiking you don't need a jumper made from yarn that's soft and fragile, you need an outer layer of robust hard wearing wool - usually from more robust sheep that spend the majority of their lives high on the fell.
Use the right wool yarn for the job
Too many people are only buying the softest yarns they can get hold of, but to me that's not always a sensible choice. You have to really think how your finished garment will be used, get out of your comfort zone and use a yarn that's suitable... believe me soft and luscious alpaca yarn no matter how lovely will quickly be ruined if it was used for a camping trip. Same goes if you tried to use an itchy Herdwick Yarn to make a swimsuit or swimming trunks - you're asking for trouble.
It's true that more robust wools are usually more itchy, why not wear a long sleeve t-shirt as a base layer underneath that jumper? You've got a breathable outer garment that will keep you warm even if it gets wet, and if properly cared for will last a lifetime.
With the growing range of ManKnit yarns, I wish to try and offer a yarn or blend which is suitable for a wide range of projects. ManKnit Falkland Fine Merino is a soft wool yarn, suitable for baby garments and happily wearable next to delicate skin. Blue-Mash is a good all rounder, a little less soft than the Merino but more hard wearing and less susceptible to pilling. ManKnit Herdwick Yarn (coming soon) is ideal for robust outer garments and hiking socks (The Manliest of our Yarns).
Superwash/commercially processed wool yarns
Superwash yarn is also another gripe of mine - To create a superwash yarn the wool is processed in bleach, heat treatments or has been coated in resin (again a plastic) - All that processing is harmful to the environment and often leaves the yarn dull and lifeless, all the properties you've gained by using natural wool have been eradicated by the processing.
Commercially Dyed Wool Yarn - Plant Dyeing, a natural alternative
Commercially dyeing ManKnit yarn is something I wish to stay away from. Commercial dyes are usually man-made. These dyes are made from synthetic resources such as petroleum by-products or earth minerals, often the dyes are adhered to the wool with a host of chemicals. It is said that you can tell what colour is currently in fashion by looking at the colour of rivers in China. Although it is illegal, disposal of dyes into waterways still happens to this day.
When it comes to offering coloured yarn at ManKnit, we provide two solutions; natural fleece coloured (variations in colour depending on breed chosen to create the yarn) or naturally plant dyed.
Plant dying uses natural renewable resources to create the dyes - roots, berries, bark, leaves and wood. The use of plants like madder (a dusky red to pink), oak galls (beige to brown), lichens (soft lime greens and yellows) are boiled in water to extract the natural dyes, allowing us to create vibrant colours naturally, without harming the environment.
We work in small batches and each yarn is dyed by hand - but the results are sustainable, eco-friendly and completely unique. Plant dyed yarns are seasonal, the time of year dictates what colours are available. I love how each batch can vary slightly, giving a unique hand-dyed look. Dying by hand can be time consuming and It's a real labour of love, but It's something we're passionate about especially when it comes to protecting the environment.