Hot on the heels of the launch of my crafting campaign against capitalism comes the second installment of same work, a treatise on the necessity of the purchase of yarn from ethical sources.
Now, as we all know, in Ye Olden Days of the 1980s - back in a time when you always had a 10p in your back pocket in case you needed to make an emergency phone call. Yes, youth, those little glass cells are more than just Superman's changing room, you know - knitting in the United Kingdom and Ireland essentially involved DK acrylic. And nothing wrong with that. However, knitting and crochet in the noughties and beyond have become a luxury pastime. Sure, you could continue to buy acrylic yarn, but obviously no one does. (Well, they do, but no one admits to it. You know who you are, missy.) Instead, yarn manufacturers and indie dyers and spinners have started to market yarn using the same thesaurus as chocolate-makers: it's sumptuous! Luscious! Saturated! Decadent! (There are even wool companies that have turned the keystone of economics on its head: Wollmeise here in the south of Germany does not meet demand with supply. They don't supply, and demand grows. You simply can't buy it. It is the El Dorado of yarn.) The prices of these luxury yarns might even make you squawk out loud: "What on earth is this stuff made from? Mermaid bumfluff?"
Indeed. It often is. Some crafters, like my dear reader Quinn, even believe it to be little more than a myth. Oh, I wish.
As the demand for luxury yarns grow, so too does the burden carried by the poor creatures that supply it. Some more than others. This is why I wish to send out a plea here and now to needleworkers of the world: the next time you consider splurging on sinfully expensive yarn, please make sure that it comes from an ethical source.
How To Change The World
Without Leaving The Comfort Of Your Living Room
in 20,000 Easy Steps
(Many of Which Will Involve Handicrafts)
Part 2: Know Your Yarn
Rated: PG13. Some viewers may find the following images disturbing.
Luxury yarns come from four popular sources:
|There's also silk, but silkworms aren't very exciting to draw.|
While sheep, rabbits and alpacas are not averse to a shearing, mermaids do not take kindly to this. Despite protests by international organisations such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International, fishing trawlers continue to scour the Atlantic coasts, searching out mermaid colonies:
Having no natural enemies except humans and intrepid polar bears, and armed with nothing other than strong language, the mermaid becomes easy prey for the fishermen who supply a voracious yarn industry:
They are removed to the mainland, where their bottoms are sheared for the much-prized mermaid bumfluff, which later becomes the luxury yarn that you, the crafter, crave.
While the shearing process is relatively short and painless, mermaids are made to endure endless sea-shanty sing-songs and are seldom offered a cup of tea. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, has gone on record saying that he finds this treatment "appalling". His jumpers are cotton.
Thus, I plead with you, fellow crafters. The next time you pick up a skein of an obscenely expensive fibre folly: is this yarn ethical? Have mermaids been made to suffer through the 23 verses of 'Blow the Man Down' without as much as a cuppa, not to mention a chocolate biscuit? Make sure you choose a yarn that carries the internationally-recognised mermaid-friendly symbol on its label:
Ponder on that, crafters. I hope you have learned your lesson.