Today is Blog Action Day, and this year's theme is the environment so today I'm thinking particularly about how choices I make in some of my crafts can reflect an awareness of the impact we have on the world.
On the surface of it, knitting looks like a very low impact activity, but have a little think about some of the things we choose to use.
Where does our yarn come from, is it natural fibre or manmade. If manmade where does the raw material come from, is it a sustainable source, does it have any pollutants associated with it? If natural, has the fibre been raised ethically, dyed with care for the environment, produced in energy efficient ways, transported round the world? How was it packaged, was there loads to go in the bin once we'd unwrapped it?
What about the tools of the trade? What are your knitting needles made from, what is their story?
So, what should I tighten up on myself? I already make a concious effort to use wool produced in this country as far as practical, but I also pick up bargains on ebay or in sales when I can. So I clearly have room for improvement in being a little more focussed on sourcing. Most of my knitting needles are secondhand or home-made, so I don't feel any need to worry too much about them, they will last me a lifetime I would think.My sock machine is already a hundred years old and is muscle powered, probably doesnt come much more eco friendly than that for a machine. I do however use some chemical dyes. I try to be extremely concious of details like measureing so they attach fully to the yarn and don''t go down the drain when the dyebath is finished, I also use a lot of natural dyes but I should grow or locally collect more. I do spin, but recently time hasn't let me do as much as I should. Ideally I'd like to switch from using bought yarn to handspun entirely, that way I can use fleece produced locally, but saying that, I sell a lot of my work so I need to balance the market against what I make and sadly fewer people will pay the extra for a handspun yarn on top of handknit work.
All in all, I think its probably a case of continuing to think clearly about my choices when I pick a new yarn or consider new needles. International trade per se is not a bad thing, I do sell odd garments overseas and hope to continue to do so, but choosing local for day to day needs is undoubtably a better option, and whilst I see lots of room for improvement in the ethical choices I make when knitting, I don't think its too bad all things considered.