fake sheep

a website about vegan knitting

no sheep for me

interweave press, publishers of “interweave knits” magazine, scarf style and lots of other books, have just started podcasting – the first episode is an interview with amy singer about her upcoming book, no sheep for you (get the audio file here.)

the more i hear about this book, the more i’m looking forward to it. “no sheep…” is almost-vegan in practice if not in theory. the author is allergic to wool and touch-sensitive to most animal fibres, as she explains in the interview – so she explains that the book is not anti-wool, it’s “boy i sure use i could wish wool, but since i can’t here’s what i can use instead”. & her list of things she can use instead includes silk. but while it’s not actually a vegan book, it looks like it will be really useful for this vegan knitter.

the book includes lots of information about different plant fibres. in the interview, amy talks about her year-long process of researching plant fibres and figuring out how to knit wooly patterns, like lace, without wool. lots of knitters, including yarn shop owners, never really knit with plant fibres so there’s not as much knowledge circulating about how these fibres behave, what you can knit with them and what you need to consider when substituting them into a pattern designed for an animal fibre.

amy talks about the importance of understanding your yarn – swatching extensively, washing and blocking, and making notes about how the fabric behaves. knitting and designing with less common fibres requires a bit more experimentation.

and of course, there are lots of patterns included that are specifically designed for plant fibres. the interweave press site has a descriptive table of contents that tells you what all the patterns are about, with a few pictures – the “cables and o’s” cardigan in linen/cotton is gorgous.

i’m really excited about this book, and i hope it gets more knitters thinking about, designing with and using plant fibres.

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3 Comments»

  polarbears wrote @

I am intrigued by your extension of vegan from food to yarn. Humane treatment of domesticated animals (or any animal) ought to be a no-brainer. Lacto-ovo vegetarian I can understand philosophically. Minimal use of petrochemicals also makes instant sense. Vegan I have trouble getting my brain around. Somehow it seems anti-animal. How many sheep would there be if we didn’t wear wool? How many cows and goats without dairies? I don’t mean the big “factory farms” but local, family, organic, sustainable agriculture. Why should an acrylic yarn from a big chemical plant–or for that matter, cotton from a huge chemically drenched mono-culture–be “better” than wool from a well-cared-for sheep? I admire your ability to live your philosophical convictions. It can’t be easy. Please forgive me if I’m misunderstanding your choices–in yarn and in general–I thank you for making me do a little extra thinking.

p.s.–The polarbears are my big fluffy white fur coats (aka rugs and slippers)–who just walked in and reminded me it’s time for their supper.

  moira wrote @

thanks for your comment. i want to respond by writing a whole post, because these are such big questions, they’re questions i’ve read on other online forums and i’ve been meaning to write more about this. (have you read my old about page? that’s a brief introduction but doesn’t explain my reasons for being vegan in the first place). i will write more soon.

  Lovesprout wrote @

Do you know of a plant fiber that felts like wool?


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