In a cold state like Tasmania, knitwear is an essential in the closet – but the shops are generally filled with such poor quality knitwear. Avoid fast fashion and slow things down. Learn to knit your own!
Knitting is not just for nanna’s
Despite stereotypes, knitting is an ancient art that has sprung into modernity. Knitting is therapy, a time-passer and meditative in it’s repetitiveness. It’s deeply rewarding to create something with your hands, that is magically transformed into something totally unique and wearable for a lifetime. I have always felt slightly embarrassed to share my love of the knitted craft with the world, but I can no longer deny my feelings.
Making your own knitted stuff means you can have exactly what you want. You can knit something to fit you perfectly and in the perfect colour of your choosing. Knitwear is generally long lasting, and doesn’t require being washed every-time you wear it. Handmade knitwear also makes the perfect present, something so personal and time consuming is always appreciated by the recipient.
Where to get decent wool
Although it would be easy to run into Spotlight for a ball or two, there are options out there for those wishing to be more environmentally thoughtful. My favourite online wool retailers, Wool & the Gang, sell a range of beautifully coloured wool that has a focus on sustainability. 63% of their yarns are bio-degradable, 47% are vegan, and 32% are recycled or up-cycled. The numbers aren’t perfect -but they are working on it! Their ‘Heal The Wool‘ yarn is made from excess fibres that would otherwise be sent to landfill. They also have the ‘New Wave Yarn‘ that is made from discarded plastic bottles, up to three bottles per ball of wool! Wool and The Gang also want to be kind to their sheep, and are 100% mulesing free.
Sourcing wool even slower
If you want to take wool sourcing really seriously, you can do what I did and learn to spin wool. Taken straight from the sheep, spinning involves using a wheel to combine the raw fibres and create yarn. After making friends with fellow spinners, I was gifted three beautiful bags of fresh wool shorn straight from the sheep. These sheep are grazing sheep, and were due for a trim anyway, so why let those precious fibres go to waste! I’ve created many balls of wool from these fleeces, using organic dyes to make purples, whites and reds.
Where to learn how to spin
Spinning wool is not for the faint hearted, it is however a fantastic skill to learn. Firstly you’ll need a wheel to spin with, which unfortunately are not just sold on shelves. I picked up a handmade one from a Huon Valley local, made from pure Huon Pine. If you can’t find a wheel locally, Ashford are the brand I’m most familiar with, and make very high quality spinning wheels. Head to their website to see their range!
Spinning takes serious patience and determination, in fact it took me two weeks to even get something representative of wool. Learning to spin is best done with someone next to you to teach the technique. In that case, join your local spinners group (generally a bunch of older ladies at the local community hall). I joined the Huon Valley spinners group and met the nicest group of very eager grandmas willing to pass on their talents. However, if finding someone to teach you is not possible, then head to the internet. I recommend looking up Ashford Wheels & Looms on youtube, who have step by step tutorials on how to prepare the wheel, and the technique involved.
Where to learn how to knit
I learnt to knit from a couple of old books, youtube videos and the faintest memories of my grandmothers teachings. If you don’t have someone who can teach you, turn to the internet. Simply learn how to cast on & off, do a basic knit stitch and go from there. Practice making a garter stitch scarf and get your technique up to scratch. It’s super simple to pick up, and you’ll likely never forget how to do it.
The internet is abundant with knitting patterns. My favourite website is Ravelry! Create an account and get access to a mountain of knitting patterns for practically anything you can think of. Places like Spotlight have hard copies of patterns for sale as well.
Learning to knit is the perfect way to slow things down and keep your closet thoughtful. As my poor quality clothes wear out, my knitted items stand strong and beautiful. Take the time to learn a new skill like knitting, and you’ll never be bored again!
For Wool & The Gang website, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/
For Wool & The Gang Heal The Wool Yarn, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/heal-the-wool?taxon_id=49
For Wool & The Gang New Wave Yarn, head to https://www.woolandthegang.com/en/products/new-wave-yarn
For Ashford Spinning wheels, head to https://www.ashford.co.nz/spinning-wheels
For Ashford youtube tutorials, head to https://www.youtube.com/user/AshfordHandicrafts
For the Ravelry pattern website, head to https://www.ravelry.com/
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