hi. i’m moira. i’m vegan, and i like to knit – i choose to knit only with non-animal fibres. i live in auckland, new zealand (a country full of real sheep).
i wrote the introduction below soon after i started this blog. i’ve had lot more thoughts since then, and some things below have changed (for example, this website now comes up first on google for “vegan knitting”!). so i will write something new here some time soon.
more about vegan knitting
googling for vegan knitting mostly brings up pictures of knitty’s “vegan” fox (a faux fox stole which is knit with animal yarn), knitters wondering how to knit presents for their vegan friends, and self-described “yarn snobs” ranting about how stupid vegan knitters are (don’t they know acrylic is bad for the environment? don’t they know that animals die when cotton is harvested? why don’t they just buy organic wool from a farm that treats its sheep right?).
it’s true that every yarn has issues, and selecting what to knit with can be a compromise between budget and ethics. it’s also true that simply avoiding animal fibres won’t make anyone an ethical or environmentally friendly knitter. is angora brushed off a pet rabbit who lives surrounded by cuddles and organic carrots better than cheap acrylic made by a multi-national corporation? probably. from the reading i’ve done, it seems like there are ways of getting yarn from animals that are less about exploitation and more about a mutually beneficial relationship.
my veganism is a choice i’ve made in the context of the society i live in and the options available to me. i find factory farming unacceptable, i have huge problems with the killing industries that produce meat, dairy and associated products, and i can easily opt out of supporting these industries by not buying their products. it doesn’t make sense for me not to be vegan given my beliefs and my ability to live consistently with those beliefs. i know that there are more ethical ways of obtaining animal products that provide less support to the meat industry – keeping a couple of free range hens in your backyard as opposed to buying eggs from battery hens off a supermarket shelf, for example. perhaps if all farms were small and treated their animals as individuals instead of production units, if this was the mainstream way of doing things, i might theoretically re-evaluate my veganism. in practice i don’t think i would, because i personally prefer not eating animal products and it’s healthier for me, but my point is that i don’t know what i would do in a different social context, and i can’t know, because the meat industry has been overwhelmingly huge and industrial for longer than i have been making conscious choices about food. i choose not to buy ‘ethical’ eggs (or eat eggs from a friend’s chicken) because i’d rather those eggs went to someone who would otherwise have bought supermarket eggs. also, because i personally don’t like eggs and don’t want to eat animal fats, but my ethical issue is not necessarily with eggs themselves, but in how most of them are obtained. or rather, i’m not sure i would have an issue if the egg industry was completely different.
maybe you see the connection with small scale wool farming and pet angora rabbits. i don’t necessarily have a problem with them, but i would rather that all sheep farms were small scale and organic and friendly, if there were sheep farms at all. i would rather that people who wanted to buy wool bought it from smaller, more ethical producers. i don’t know if i have an ethical issue with animal yarn in itself, that’s something i’m still thinking through, but i’m not comfortable supporting the mainstream animal fibre industry. so, i’m a vegan knitter.
i approach yarn choices a bit like i approach food choices. the animal content is important, but isn’t the only factor to consider. cheap synthetics are kind of the equivalent of vegan junk food, the sort of thing i wouldn’t live on, that i will probably move on from once i’m a bit more knowledgable about my choices and as i’m able to experiment with my options, but that i don’t feel too bad about indulging in sometimes. sometimes you just want a soy chocolate bar, not an organic tofu stirfry (mmmm, soy chocolate). i would love to knit with organic cotton and soy silk and bamboo, but they’re the equivalent of the fancy imported organic extra virgin olive oils at harvest wholefoods – pricey and luxurious and not realistic or necessary for every project. currently, i’m researching what’s in between those two extremes, what my options are. i bought some nothing-fancy cotton from trade me (which i think of as supermarket vegetables, pretty basic subsistence stuff but not perfect – imported and pesticided and not as interesting as their organic counterparts). i’m going to see what else i can source locally. i want to try knitting with recycled fibres of all sorts (wires? plastic? i haven’t decided how i feel about unravelled wool jumpers – personally i’m not sure i’d be comfortable knitting with the yarn, but i think it’s a great idea for people who want to use wool). i want to learn about spinning eventually and i want to try making my own yarn (flax? recycled scraps?).
i wanted to make a website about knitting so i can keep track of my projects, but also so i can share my perspectives on vegan knitting and share resources with other people who want to knit with non-animal fibres. so, this will be a blog and a picture archive of things i’ve knitted, but it will also be links and resources and thoughts and experiments.