fake sheep

a website about vegan knitting

about

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.

13 Comments»

  Alison Boyes wrote @

Hi Moira!
reading all this is like a breath of fresh air (which i know ther is a lot of in NZ). You see here in Dumfries, Scotland, i am the only vegan in the village , ie anywhere. I have converted my husband and 2 of my 3 children. We have been vegans now for 2 years after 25 years of being vegetarian, we live out in the country and i could no longer look the cows in the eye while i was drinking milk and wearing leather shoes. I`m sure you will know what its like being a vegan in a farming community…. and then my daughter and i realised that we would no longer be able to use all those lovely yarns for our knitting..aargh! We have bought woll from charity shops but would rather avoid wool altogether. It`s like i do love wearing wool but will only buy clothes which other people have discarded, but then are you supporting the wool industry indirectly? We also have 6 hens from before we turned vegan so we still eat their eggs. So It`s great to find a like-minded person, even if thy`re so far away. hello!
Alison

  moira wrote @

hi alison, nice to hear from you. it must be hard being the only vegans in a farming village. i actually live in auckland which is a fairly big city with a fairly large vegetarian population – some people recently started up a vegan bakery which delivers cupcakes and baked things to auckland cafés! farming is a huge part of new zealand’s economy, very noticably in other parts of the country, but i don’t often find it difficult being vegan here. wellington, new zealand’s capital city, is also really vegan friendly.

another factor that makes it easier for me to knit without wool is the climate – auckland is pretty moderate and for most of the year, i don’t actually need wool/ warm clothes. i think if i was somewhere colder (like scotland!) i would draw the lines differently. i don’t think buying wool yarn or clothes from charity shops is supporting the industry – the money is all going to the charity, not back to people who might buy more wool. the ways it could indirectly support the industry are

a) if you’re buying up the second-hand wool that other people would have bought, thus causing them to buy new wool (but realistically, most stuff in charity shops would otherwise be discarded, and most people shopping in charity shops aren’t going to be choosing between new and used: they won’t go out and buy an expensive new wool cardigan just because they couldn’t find a second-hand one in a charity shop; if they decided to buy some pretty new knitting yarn, they wouldn’t check the charity shop first in case there was some second-hand yarn there).

or b) if by wearing wool, you’re making it look super-fashionable, thereby encouraging others to go out and buy wool. but if you’re living in a place where everyone wears wool anyway, you’re not likely to increase the chances of someone else wearing wool – probably they were going to, anyway.

so i think it’s more about your comfort levels.

thanks for leaving a comment! nice to internet-meet you.

  kate wrote @

Hi Moira, I have just moved to Auckland and am about to set up a craft, stitch and bitch kinda group – would you be at all interested. I love your site too, it’s marvellous (did I spell that right).

  lee pilkington wrote @

hey,

i found your blog as i was searching for information on spinning vegan fibres. your blog … by the way is awesome. i’m wondering if you know of any resources for vegans who wnat to learn how to spin … websites, blogs, tutorials, books … anything? so far the only thing i can find is how to spin wool …. and I’m definately not interested.

lee

  lee pilkington wrote @

sorry, i gave you the wrong email… this time its correct.

lee

  Ethan wrote @

Hi Moira, i just loved your thoughts on your blog, i am just about to ready to learn how to spin haha here comes the chunky & thin lengths of yarn, i live in Otaki, kapiti coast, i was looking at buying wool from a certain company & this just didnt sit right with me, I feel so fortunate that i have found a small lifestyler that adopts orphaned lambs & he hand rears them & keeps them as pets, (cheesyi know) but he is a very sweet old guy & when i went to meet him tonight i thought really this is too good to be true……… but he called out to the sheep & they ran up to the fence to him !!! wow i was truly impressed at the age of these sheep, they ranged from new lambs to 5/6 year old sheep, so tame & yes cute too, now i have my fleece that he has shorn himself & an ongoing supply if i want it, i feel so happy to have stumbled across him, that i just had to share with you, i have been reading your blog for a little while now, i will be attempting to dye this wool with plant matter shortly ie gorse flowers, berries etc, will let you know how i go…. should be good for a cackle … take care

  Frances wrote @

A vegan bakery in Auckland? Where?

My biggest problem over here (New Zealand) is shoes. It’s hard to find vegan shoes. Even if you find synthetic uppers there will be leather inners (what on earth?)

My partner’s last pair of shoes broke today and vegan shoes are so expensive and most of them look HORRIBLE, so I don’t know what we’re going to do.

We might have to cave in and buy leather.

  Warren Jones wrote @

HI, Can I buy a vegan sweater from you? I love sweaters and miss wearing them. Will you knitt me one?

Thanks.

Warren Jones
wgjii@aol.com
San Francisco, CA

  tara wrote @

i just have a question that i’m sure you know the answer to…..

is there a vegan way to ‘felt’?

  Angela Modzelewski wrote @

Hi,
I’m vegan and I work at Knit Picks. I just wanted to let you know that we have 5 vegan yarns now-

With the addition of our newest cotton/acrylic blend, Comfy, Knit Picks now offers five cruelty free options for vegan knitters starting at only $1.99. CotLin is a DK weight, Tanguis Cotton/linen blend available in twelve colors for only $2.49. Our Pima cotton/modal blend, Shine, is available in sport and worsted weights. Modal is a bio-based fiber made by spinning reconstituted cellulose from beech trees into fiber, and it gives the Pima cotton a lustrous quality akin to silk. Shine sport is available in twenty luscious colors like Blush and Hydrangea , and Shine worsted comes in seventeen different hues. Both lines start at only 2.49 a ball. Our fifth cruelty free yarn is our Crayon boucle; it’s 100 percent cotton, DK weight, and available in fourteen yummy colors making it the perfect yarn for kids’ projects or for drapey, soft summer knits.

On average our yarns are priced $4 to $7 lower than yarns with comparable fiber content sold by our competitors so they’re worth checking out.

  Kelly wrote @

Hi! Ive just moved to Auckland from Toronto, and am having the worst luck finding a knitting group in this city. Was hoping you might know of one? Thanks!

  monsteryarns wrote @

Hi Fake Sheep, I love your blog because it’s never easy to do things differently and you have so many fantastic ideas. I have nominated you for the Super Sweet Blog Award, which may not fit in with the feel of your blog, but is meant by me as an appreciation of all you do. Thanks! Have a good weekend,

  Alex Carter Singer (@AlexCarter001) wrote @

Hi! I came across your site looking for vegan tweed replacements… Wonderful!

I’m doing Veganuary and seeing if I can find wool/tweed vintage type materials whilst trying out being Vegan… can I email you? Do you knit things to order?
A supplier in London?

All the best,
Alex


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