Sunday, March 19, 2006


Well, relearning to knit wasn't enough. Now I've got all these bags of dog hair and I have to do something with them (the big shaggy dog's fur hasn't arrived yet, this is just from the medium-sized shaggy dog who lives next door, and from the deceased Shetland sheepdog of my childhood). So I called up my neighbor who spins and asked her if she'd teach me. She said sure, but we'll start with actual wool (easier to learn on, apparently). She's got a spinning wheel I can borrow.

I'm a loon. I've got too much stuff to do as it is. But do I learn? no! I keep bounding feet-first into project after project, joyfully and knowing full well the trouble I'm getting myself into. Still, this is also the fulfillment of a childhood wish--all those fairy tales involving spinning women, myths with the Norns and the Fates and all that. Very feminine and powerful, and probably skills we'll all need as the great and cheap manufacturies of today get less cheap. But perhaps I'm being apocalyptically paranoid.

Hubbert's Peak isn't that far off, though, and it's got to have some effect on us.

I wonder if the windjammers will come back to the shipping lanes, bringing us silk from Cathay and vicuña from Chile, precious rugs and fabrics and spices from far away, taking months to arrive once again. We'll send our exotic Alaskan dogwool sweaters and qiviut scarves to Europe and Japan in exchange. Ah, the mystery of far-off places will yet return!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Missed Opportunity

I can't believe no-one posted anything about green knitting on St. Patty's day! What a missed opportunity!

St. Patty's Pin

My grandmother made this for me when I was a kid. She made all kinds of these pins for every holiday and event you can imagine. Christmas trees and easter bunnies (even though she was Jewish), snowmen, pumpkins, and even St. Pat here. She made hundreds of them and gave them out to all of her friends.

Yesterday was also a great day to do a Google search for "green yarn". Check it out.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Green Yarn Review


I'm going to try to post a review of an eco friendly yarn every couple of weeks. Based on the conclusion of my article on organic wool, I'm not going to focus exclusively on certified organics, but also will take a look at some small eco-friendly producers. I'm starting with wool, because that's what I know most about, and maybe will take a look at some plant fibers like hemp and organic cotton later.

Today, I'll start with a short review of Green Mountain Spinnery.

The spinnery, located in Putney Vermont, produces several different lines of eco friendly yarns and one line of certified organic yarn. They have developed a special GREENSPUN process for washing and spinning yarns using vegetable-based soaps and oils instead of petroleum products. According to their website, "No chemicals are used to bleach, mothproof, shrink proof, or remove chaff. The GREENSPUN process, developed at the Spinnery, is an extension of the environmental concerns basic to our founding in 1981."

Here's a brief look at a few of their GREENSPUN products:

Vermont Organic is mande from 100% organic wool from sheeps raised in Vermont. It comes in natural white and gey. This is a worsted weight yarn that can be used to make textured and cable knits.

Alpaca Elegance is made from 50% wool and 50% alpaca fiber. It is a DK weight yarn that comes in several natural alpaca colors including cappuchino, black, charcoal, and white.

Green Mountain Green is 40% mohair and 60% fine wool. The mohair gives the yarn a high lustre and soft texture. The colors include, "Variegated skeins [that] range from off-white to medium grey . . . each is unique. White and silver-brown skeins [that] are uniform in color." This yarn is worsted weight.

Maine Organic is made from 100% certified organic wool from Maine. It comes in creamy white and dark chocolate (yummy!), and is a 2-ply smooth yarn that shows off texture stitches beautifully.

For those who like to see ideas of how to use different yarns, there's also a book called The Green Mountain Spinnery Knitting Book by Margaret Klein Wilson and the Green Mountain Spinnery. It is full of texture and colorwork patterns that take advantage of the spinnery's yarn unique features and colors.

From the publisher.....

"The Green Mountain Spinnery was founded twenty years ago with a distinctly Vermont mission: to produce the highest quality all-natural yarns, to help sustain regional sheep farming, and to develop environmentally sound ways to process natural fibers.

Since then the collective has grown and thrived, designing and producing richly colored all-natural yarns in alpaca, mohair, wool, and organic cotton that are known and loved by knitters and weavers across the country. The yarns, produced in their mill in rural Vermont with vintage equipment and untouched by bleach or chemicals, are available in a spectacular array of over 75 natural and dyed colors.

Now, in this inviting book, the Green Mountain Spinnery has collected for the first time 30 of their best loved contemporary and classic patterns including new designs exclusive to this book. Beautiful full-color photographs, pattern charts, and schematics accompany detailed knitting instructions for appealing sweaters, vests, cardigans, children's sweaters, and accessories: hats, scarves, socks, and mittens in sizes for all ages."

Green Mountain Spinnery has a long history of producing environmentally friendly products. Their yarns are beautiful and have a luxurious hand. I am especially fond of their mohairs. In addition to the GREENSPUN yarns I've mentioned above, they also produce several lines of dyed yarns. Obviously the dyes are chemicals, which puts these yarns into a different category than the GREENSPUNs, but with the company's dedication to being environmentally friendly, I can comfortable recommend these yarns to anyone who is concerned about being a green knitter.

Donna Druchunas