Today, The Guardian newspaper published an article about the animal rights Charity Peta, titled "Forget fur - is it time to stop wearing wool?". (You can find the article in question here; it's well worth reading). The title is a little misleading, seems as the bulk of the article is about Peta Co-Founder Ingrid Newkirk, and the charity's often-radical approach to creating awareness about their causes. The title refers to the latest of these causes: cruelty to sheep in the wool industry. The charity had been secretly filming Australian sheep-shearers acting cruelly, which lead to some men being convicted of animal cruelty, and they wish to stamp out the use of wool as a result.
As a knitter, who uses a lot of wool-based yarn, and coincidentally grew up on a farm with a shepherd father, this sort of news is very difficult. I'm sure my Dad would agree that sheep-shearing, when done properly, causes no harm to the sheep, and is vital because it stops them overheating in the hot summer months.
Unfortunately, there is always a price to be paid when we (or the retailers, designers and manufacturers) demand lower prices for our clothes and other everyday items (it's not just fashion - Fairtrade food, anyone?). I sincerely hope that any cruelty towards sheep was a few isolated incidents, but my suspicion is that shearers would only act in this way in order to fulfill quotas, meet deadlines and keep costs down in a industry where margins are so small, it can be hard to break even, let alone make a small profit.
I spent a lot of time at university delving into the vast world of ethics in the fashion industry, and it saddens me greatly the amount of shocking practices that take place in order to make things we buy and wear on a daily basis (did you know: in Uzbekistan, every summer the state forces children to harvest cotton, unpaid and mistreated? And that's just scratching the surface. You can read about it Here).
As a small-scale knitting business, I will aim to use yarn from reputable sources, and where possible, find out the origin of the fibres that make up my yarn. As consumers, the same applies to the products we choose to buy. I don't think we should stop using wool altogether based on the cruelty of some individuals - wool is a wonderfully versatile fibre that is biodegradable and renewable, and in most cases, a natural bi-product of the farming industry that does our woolly friends more good than harm.
I would love to hear your views on this issue! Please leave a comment. (Nothing rude or offensive please, we're all friends here).
(picture source: https://www.timeout.com/london/blog/a-sheep-cafe-could-be-opening-in-london-031317)
Today the lovely Princess Charlotte turned two (Happy Birthday!), and they released this photo of the little Princess wearing a John Lewis cardigan. Needless to say the cardigan sold out very quickly - a beautiful soft banana-coloured creation, with a classic fairisle yoke featuring blue sheep.
The infamous cardigan is available from savvy shoppers on eBay, and John Lewis are set to re-stock the infamous cardigan.
However, I would like to offer an alternative buying experience! Why not support a small business, and request a Burgess at Home custom order for an inspired yet unique cardigan?
Disclaimer: I cannot make an exact replica of the John Lewis cardigan due to copyright.
Check out this lovely picture of my customer's daughter in her Narnia cardigan!
Recently, I knitted a Lucy Pevensie Cardigan for a custom order, and decided it was a good time to stock up on the mustard coloured yarn. I had four balls left, so while I was waiting for the new stock to arrive, I started knitting the cardigan with the yarn I already had.
The cardigan has a moss stitch yoke, a beautiful textured stitch which is good to knit by hand. when I was hand knitting the back yoke one evening, I started one of the newly arrived balls of yarn, only to discover the next day that there was an obvious difference in shade! I hadn't noticed until I saw it in the daylight. the new yarn was a slightly darker shade, too different to the original shade to get away with, or use for another part of the cardigan.
The moral of this story is a simple one: always order the amount of yarn you need in one go, plus some extra just in case you need it.
Sometimes, the same yarn in the same colour/shade can come out slightly different. Yarn manufacturers dye their yarn in big batches, and each batch is given a unique code called the "dye lot". Even when it's experts and they are using an exact dye recipe, due to the natural qualities of wool, and because there are so many variables in the dye process, it is almost impossible that any two dye lots will turn out the exact same colour.
This is a problem I had rarely encountered before, because most of the time the shade variation is so minimal you can hardly see it. it's just those unlucky occasions where it does matter, and then you're kicking yourself for not ordering more yarn in the first place!
Fortunately, I had just enough of the original yarn to complete the cardigan. Nevertheless, I will definitely use this anecdote as an excuse to buy large quantities of yarn!
This is the second time I have knitted this cardigan - a replica of the one worn by the character Lucy Pevensie in the Film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, when she goes through the wardrobe for the first time. It's a beautiful piece: mustard yellow, with gathered sleeves and moss stitch, and a row of argyle flowers down each front.
This one was for an older child, so the flowers are more spaced out than the last time. Admittedly there is more detail in the original cardigan; I have simplified it, but I feel it captures the essence of the original.
The good news is that the Lucy Pevensie cardigan is now available as a made-to-order item in the Etsy shop!
That's right, everything in the Burgess at Home Etsy shop is available with a 10% discount this weekend! Starting Friday 31st March and going straight on till Sunday 2nd April, you can get your hands on my ready-made items for 10% less. Fabulous!
Do share this with anyone you know who might be interested.
I hope to have a nice busy start to next week packaging and posting orders!
31stThis month sees my return to work following an 8 month break for maternity leave, a break which certainly wasn't devoid of work of various sorts!
I am really looking forward to getting back to designing and knitting. I already have some exciting projects in the pipeline, and tons of ideas for new knits. I think the challenge will be trying them all out with a baby in tow (who is squirming about on my lap as I type)...
Join me in celebrating my return to work, with an exclusive discount on my read-made items on Etsy (31st March - 2nd April). Check back here closer to the time for further updates!
We had a great time selling together at Silcocks this weekend!
Silcocks Farm in St Michaels, Tenterden hosts a number of events throughout the year, including farm open days and the Christmas Fayre. They also have a cafe and farm shop open all year round, so its a great place to stop in on.
Our stall was upstairs in the barn, with a lovely collection of crafty stands and sellers!
The most important thing in my life is my relationship with the God who made me and loves me!