Felted woolly sheep by NicsGifts
"An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep" Arabian Proverb
The first National Wool Week is underway in the UK from 11-17 October 2010, and started with a loud ba! On Monday, 11 October 2010, sheep took over Saville Row in London. It wasn't quite an army of sheep, but they certainly made a statement!
Wool Week is happening since wool prices are at an all-time low (because of the increase in synthetic fibre), and farmers are actually making a loss from selling fleece. So it's no wonder that fewer farmers are keeping sheep, and that means a loss of some beautiful rare breeds!
Locks from Gotland lambs by Woollygathering
The Campaign for Wool highlights the advantages of using wool in fashion, interiors and construction. It aims to show that wool is a fashionable, eco-friendly and durable alternative to synthetic fibres. Etsy is also supporting this very worthwhile campaign, and there is a beautiful article on the UK Etsy blog about the campaign, entitled "Give Fleece a Chance".
The Campaign for Wool will go global in 2011, and there has been quite some interest in it already in Ireland, because we are facing the same problems.
Cinnamon handpainted merino by KnitSpinFelt
Since we in 'Norn Iron' are this crazy half-way house inbetween here and there, I felt inspired by the campaign across the water and decided to write a bit about wool while featuring some of the Etsy Ireland team's wool, fibre and yarns! Well, that's really not difficult for me!
I love real wool, and any natural fibre! Although I do have a shady past of owning acrylic jumpers and confess, I still wear one handknit Aran jumper that hasn't got a spec of natural fibre in it, I am now a wool snob, and spend my food money buying handspun and handdyed goodness. Well, one can live on beans alone when there is gorgeous wool to be had!
Handspun silk blend yarn by Redbranchyarns
The situation for wool farmers and sheep is serious. I have heard it frequently that here in the North a lot of farmers dump their fleece in the fields because they can't sell it, which is such a waste!
Belfast seems to be a particular acrylic-lovin' place, because when I spoke to a few wool-sellers, looking for 100% wool, I was told that nobody wants to spend the money on real wool, so they have to sell those nasty big balls of acrylic stuff. Gulp! Have people never felt the beauty of real handspun yarn? Since I discovered handspun, I find it hard to knit even with beautiful machine spun wool.
Handspun merino yarn by lindsaycrafts
It is quite frustrating that when I am selling my knitwear at markets, people tell me how wonderful my pieces are, but then want cheap and aren't interested in handmade and handspun. In our society of mass-produced goods, many people seem to have lost the sense and feel for good quality textiles and fibres. They also have no idea how long it takes to knit a piece. 'My Granny knits', they say with a slight disdain in their voice for the 'little old lady'. I bet they never ask their Granny how long it takes her to make something, how much she spent on the yarn, or if she would rather go on that fabulous cruise with her friends...
Organic merino by Gaietygirl
Of course, there are people who can't wear wool, but there are plenty of natural alternatives (organic cotton, linen, bamboo). Those who can, hug a sheep and invest in some real wool! You won't regret it.
For more information on wool, take a lookie at Woolipedia.