October 6, 2014

Green(er) Knitting

With the plants happily repotted and relocated inside, away from the chill of our overnights, the Hubs and I took some time to enjoy the first tastes of autumn. We successfully completed our nearby corn maze, including a scavenger hunt and riddle to solve. Yes, we were the only adults there without children in tow or children leading the way. It was a lot of fun. We picked up a couple of pumpkins at the farm stand, one to sit prettily atop a wrought iron plant stand I have yet to refinish, and a larger one to carve. And then we parked ourselves in front of the blazing wood stove, the Hubs with a book and me in my jammies with knitting in hand. 
While working on what I intend to become a tote bag - I have 3 different ideas for how to design the bottom, at least one should work, right? - I couldn't help but think of the pillow sham that inspired this tote. With the weather now conducive to longer idle hours indoors, it's the right time to work out the kinks in the pillow sham design and publish it as a pattern. Which led me to ponder how to make the sham as earth-friendly as possible. Use reclaimed t-shirt yarn as in the tote? Too bulky for this particular pillow project. And unless I decide to raise my own sheep, shear and scour the wool myself, spin and dye the fibers on my own, or purchase yarn locally from someone who does all these things and is transparent about the entire process, it is difficult to trace all aspects of textile production. I looked up the yarn I used for the first pillow sham prototype and was unable to find any information about it's fiber sourcing, manufacture, or dying processes, which I take as evidence that eco-consiousness isn't a priority for the company. When it is a priority, and companies are committed and responsible about it rather than just paying it lip-service with words like all natural or green (which can mean anything or virtually nothing), they announce it loud and proud.

Further online searching led me to these three U.S. companies: Mountain Meadow Wool YarnsO-Wool, and Quince & Co.* All three companies are transparent about their green goals and keep their carbon footprints smaller by processing the shorn wool into finished yarn within the United States. Both Mountain Meadow and Quince & Co. source their wool from U.S. ranchers while O-Wool sources USDA certified organic merino wool from farms in South America where the sheep are free-range. Of the three, I found O-Wool to be the most informative about their products and process, plus they are the closest to me geographically. I ordered 3 skeins of their Legacy Bulky to work out the pillow sham pattern. I'll let you know how it performs.

*In the spirit of full transparency, I should tell you this post is in no way sponsored by any of the yarn companies mentioned. I have not yet worked with any of their yarns nor have I corresponded with any of the ladies who own and run these companies. The information I have shared is readily available online. I encourage you to read it for yourselves and make your own decisions about the yarns you choose to purchase based on your own values.
About Mountain Meadow Wool Yarns:
About O-Wool:
About Quince & Co:
the wool (at the bottom of the page)


  1. A little bit of tender loving care and those plants are positively smiling :-) And, oh my goodness... that t-shirt yarn!!! And you're making a tote with it! Brilliant! I can't wait to see the finished product. Your commitment to tracing all aspects of textile production is completely inspiring too. I'm the lady who walks around the supermarket with a business card sized checklist of all the "number" ingredients to avoid. It's not often I'm even in a supermarket these days, since all the phoney labeling and marketing agendas have put me off. I've undergone a similar tracing process with our food and am now happily purchasing what we need grower/farmer direct. I LOVE that I can text 'Farmer Chris' and thank him for our roast dinner!

    1. Do you recall my query letter shared with the class? That tote is the first prototype for the pattern I was pitching! Just a wee little cart in front of the horse, pitching a pattern that does not yet exist. (Which, consequently, is why I am pretty quiet on our google group. I'm not to the stage of active pitching or writing yet.)

      Will you be addressing more of your food choices and sourcing on The Conscious Caterpillar? I, for one, would be interested in hearing all about your journey and decisions.

    2. Oh I think that's a wonderful wee little cart in front of the horse and I'm really looking forward to the news of when the horse overtakes :-) Pretty great way of manifesting if you ask me. I do remember your query letter and I remember loving it and being so excited that a pattern came at the end of such thought provoking words.

      Conscious food choices have a huge influence over our weekly menu and teaching my babes what we're eating and why (in an entertaining way) is really important to me. I've touched on this very gently in a couple of posts already but am intentionally treading softly for the fear of sounding too dogmatic. I'll definitely keep plugging our food choices though and you have inspired me to think about posting a blog directly about this with a few book titles and links of recommended reading thrown in for those wishing to dig deeper. Thanks Laurie.

    3. Manifesting. What a great way to describe what I think of as trapping myself into seeing a project through to it's end. Manifesting is such a positive take on my procrastination busting techniques. I am so adding this word to daily use.

      I've enjoyed your food related posts thus far and do not find them dogmatic in the slightest. Then again, what's that expression? Preaching to the choir? But, really, your food choices are obviously important to you and your passion shines through your writing about them. I say if sharing your passion turns readers off, then they're not your intended audience. We gravitate to those who share our interests, it's just a matter of finding each other.

    4. Oh, that was just the reassurance and reminder I needed! I love how who've described that... "if sharing your passion turns readers off, then they're not your intended audience. We gravitate to those who share our interests, it's just a matter of finding each other." Thanks Laurie.

      Glad I could help turn procrastination into manifesting too :-)

    5. woops... "who've" is meant to read "you've" - no sure how I managed that typo!?!