Thursday April 17, 2014
If you're not collecting plastic bags to make plarn, one of the simplest things you can do to help the environment in a small way is to stop using plastic shopping bags. It's pretty easy to get in the habit of bringing your own reusable bags when you go shopping, and it's all the more fun when you can use bags that you made yourself.
This market bag is a great choice for hauling items from the farmer's market, and it's really easy to knit. © Sarah E. White.
I love this Ribbed Lace Market Bag for trips to the farmer's market or other places where you just need a little bag. The mesh makes it light and easy to fold up and carry with you, while the bag itself is made out of linen, which is really strong and will allow it to last through lots of trips to the market.
Or try the fun Felted Market Bag by Eileen Casey, perfect for trips to the yarn store!
If you're looking for other ways to bag things up with knitting, check out my full collection of bag knitting patterns.
Wednesday April 16, 2014
One eco-friendly way of getting knitting supplies that we sort of touched on yesterday is by upcycling, or making yarn out of some other material that was already in existence as something else. T-shirt yarn is a common example. I have a whole box full of T-shirts that one day I really will make into a quilt, and many of them I've cut the bottoms off of to make into T-shirt yarn. It's a relatively easy process but it can be really hard on your hands to cut through all that material and to keep the "yarn" a somewhat consistent thickness.
I made this little bag for holding coupons out of plastic yarn. © Sarah E. White.
When you've made your yarn, you should know that it can be a little difficult to work with, but it's still a lot of fun for projects like this super-sturdy bag. I love this one for outdoor activities or even the beach because you can wash it in the washing machine.
Another kind of upcycled yarn is known as plarn or plastic yarn, which is made out of plastic shopping bags. This isn't as nice to work with as yarn made out of fabric, but it's still fun to try (and can give you a use for those bags that's not just using them as bags).
Tuesday April 15, 2014
Another great way to make your knitting a little lighter on the environment is to reuse yarn from old projects you are no longer using or to buy sweaters at the thrift store and unravel them for reknitting. I had a sweater -- one of the first I even knit -- that actually ended up with some bizarreness around the armholes such that it was physically impossible to wear. After letting it sit like that for a couple of years I ripped the sweater apart, unraveled it and have been using the yarn for lots of other purposes since.
Recycled silk yarn. © Sarah E. White.
You can also purchase yarn that includes recycled materials. One of the most beautiful in recycled silk yarn such as Darn Good Silk. This is made from leftovers of the sari production process and is great because it keeps those little bits out of the trash. Similarly, Lion Brand Fettuccini yarn is made from the remnants of T-shirt manufacturing. It's a really fun, quick knitting yarn that's great for home accessories (like this bowl, which my daughter insists is a hat).
Lion Brand's Recycled Cotton is another great yarn that includes some recycled content. If you look around you can find a fair number of these types of yarn.
Have you ever ripped out a project to reuse the yarn or knit with recycled fibers? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Monday April 14, 2014
With Earth Day just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to take some time to think about how we as knitters can tread a little more lightly on the planet. Yes, knitting can keep us warm, which might lower our use of central heat in the winter, but yarn production and shipping fibers around the world means knitting doesn't always have the greatest eco-footprint (and no, stash does not really count as insulation, in fact, looked at this way, it's a waste of precious resources).
I love this yarn, which is a mix of organic merino and organic cotton. © Sarah E. White.
So why not start with yarn? There are many different options out there that are billed as being ecologically sound, or at least more so than conventionally produced fibers and those made with petrochemicals.
But much like when it comes to food, picking the greenest yarn depends a bit on what you value most. Is it better to buy a locally produced yarn from the farmer's market, where you know you're supporting local agriculture even if the production methods aren't that eco-friendly? Or would you rather buy organic fibers even if they have to be shipped across the country?
I will admit that I don't think about it that much. But I would love to hear how you decide to buy a certain yarn and if eco-friendliness plays a role!