I’ve been thinking about yarn a lot this week; more than usual that is. Specifically about where it comes from such as where and how it is produced.
The reason for this is following an online conversation with some of the Weaving Heart Chatter Group (more about that another time). We were talking about merino wool and the issues associated with it like mulesling and the fact that much is produced in Australia.
Sheep bred in hot climates, like Australia, are prone to ‘flystrike’ where blowflies lay eggs on their skin which hatch and the larvae bury into the flesh creating open sores; flies are attracted to damp areas such as urine soaked buttocks and merino sheep have folds in their fleece making them particularly susceptible. Clearly this is both very painful and potentially life threatening so farmers try to prevent this happening.
One method of doing so is to remove the skin from around the rear end of the sheep as once healed, it remains fleece free and less likely to attract blowflies. While this is regarded as a highly skilled practice, it is not legislated by the Australian government and has been criticised as cruel and inhumane.
Following the discussion I came to thinking about Weaving Heart and some of the values I wish to apply in respect to running a business. Clearly, this would have to include using cruelty free yarn. One of the yarns I use a lot for weaving is Jagger Spun Zephyr, a silk/merino blend. It comes in a wide range of shades, is beautifully soft and has a wonderful sheen once woven. I realised it was time I got responsible about knowing where my yarn came from and I emailed Jagger Spun asking them about the origin of their merino. I was very impressed to hear from them the same day with a clear answer saying that all of their merino is from mulesling free sources. Phew! I can continue to weave with Zephyr happily.
However, it also made me reconsider the sense that I’m not altogether comfortable using yarn from outside the UK. Now, it’s much harder to source weaving yarn, compared to yarn for knitting etc, within the UK. I can use laceweight knitting yarn but it’s not made specifically for weaving and has less twist and tensile strength, so not that suitable for weaving the baby wraps that make up the bulk of my weaving. However, there’s no reason why I can’t use and promote British yarns which led me to these lovelies.
They came from John Arbon Textiles, a small family run business with some gorgeous locally grown yarns. I’m hoping they will make equally gorgeous scarves in time for Christmas.
I’m struggling on with my table loom (why, oh why?) and making some fabric for curtains for the new shed. What with my shuttle taking a nose dive every few picks and having to walk around to the back of the loom to advance the warp, we are not getting on that well. I predict an EBay listing very soon…