Need a little more inspiration for eco-friendly knitting? Check out these books.
Knitting Green by Ann Budd includes essays on things such as assumptions about green knitting, a shop owner's view of organic yarn choices and natural dyeing, among other issues. It also includes 20 patterns worked with eco-friendly fibers to get you started on your sustainable knitting journey.
Joanne Seiff's Knit Green covers a lot of different options a person concerned about the environment might think about when it comes to knitting, such as supporting biodiversity, vegan knitting, fair trade and recycling. This one also has 20 projects using yarn with the features described in the essays.
Sweater Renewal by Sharon Franco Rothschild is a fun one that isn't actually a knitting book. This one offers options for remaking old sweaters -- whether you knit them or bought them -- into home decor items and accessories.
And while "local" is relative, Knit Local by Tanis Gray encourages thinking about where your yarn comes from and how far it has to travel to get to you and highlights 28 yarn companies from the United States and Canada that use domestically sourced materials to lighten the ecological load and support in-country fiber production.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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!
Clearly I've got a bit of a theme going this week, and I have one more book to add to the mix. What Else Would Madame Defarge Knit? is a sequel to the book of almost the same name that came out a few years ago. Both books involve knitters getting inspired by some of their favorite books and characters to design different knitting projects.
In this installment there's a little bird from The Secret Garden, a shawl inspired by Penelope from The Odyssey, and, I kid you not, a layette for Rosemary's Baby among many other projects.
(I mean, come on, isn't a layette for the spawn of Satan worth the price of admission?)
This book is so interesting to me because it's fun to see what books and characters people were inspired by and how that translated into knitting. This book will surely add to your reading list as well as your knitting queue!
It's not true, of course, that every librarian is a knitter or that these two particular pursuits overlap more than any others, but there is a cliche in some people's minds that librarians and knitters are the same kind of people: prim, matronly, proper.
We know better, of course, and so do the knitters who contributed to Sarah Barbour's fun book Stitching in the Stacks. This book's 29 projects are inspired by libraries and librarians, past, present, real and imagined.
These projects include sweaters, shawls, mitts and vests for use in the library and beyond. There's a French press cozy featuring call numbers for coffee, and a cowl striped by the Dewey Decimal number for knitting. But there are also projects you'd never know where inspired by books, which is part of the fun. (Though I really can't resist that knit bookworm.)
I think knitters are knitters in part because we love to have things that aren't like the things other people have. And one way to ensure that our projects are completely unique is to add an initial, monogram or favorite word to a project.
But sometimes it's hard to find interesting alphabets for knitting. The Knitted Alphabet by Kate Haxell and Sarah Hazell aims to change that by providing 26 different alphabets -- some with both upper and lowercase letters, some with numbers -- that you can use on just about any knitting project you like.
There's everything from basic serif and sans serif fonts to 3-D, vintage and cartoony fonts, all of which are sure to inspire you to add a little lettering to your next knitting project.
Do you ever personalize your knitting projects? I'd love to hear what you've done!
I love that there are so many books out now that have a really clear inspiration and set out to honor something that the book's editor and the knitters involved all really like.
In the case of Hitch, edited by Stephannie Tallent, that thing is Alfred Hitchcock movies. The 29 patterns in this book take 10 different movies, their characters and themes as inspiration. The resulting tops, jackets, hats, gloves and shawls are pretty, with a vintage flair, and while their inspiration isn't always obvious it is surely a fun conversation-starter if you're also a fan of the films.
But even if you're not, these lovely designs would be great to bring a little more pizzazz to your everyday outfit if you're a fan of a vintage bombshell look.
I love the idea of knitting something inspired by a favorite story or fairy tale character, and the knitters involved in Genevieve Miller's book Once Upon a Knit took characters from fairy tales and fantastical children's stories as their inspiration for play clothes, toys and garments for adults that don't really look at all like what you might think storybook-inspired knits would look like.
There are projects here for men, women and girls (a boy would probably like the knit dragon, too) that bring to mind Snow White, the Huntsman, Red Riding Hood, Briar Rose, Rumpelstiltskin and Prince Charming among many others. It's a fun and creative book perfect for fairy tale lovers or anyone else who likes a knit with a story behind it.