Sunday, April 18, 2010

Earth Friendly Crocheting

Since I started selling my crafts, I've been conscious of making things that can be reused, and that might replace things that people normally use once and throw away.  Other eco-friendly practices that I use: 
1.  reusing papers, boxes and envelopes I receive to send out my products (reduce, reuse, recycle),
2.  combining trips to the post office with other errands (use gas efficiently),
3.  purchasing supplies made locally or as geographically close as possible (supports local businesses, cuts down on fuel use), and
4.  using materials that have been repurposed, recovered, or are made from recycled materials.

At this point, I'm trying to incorporate more materials that have a lower impact on the environment, so lately I've been reading up on the fibers that become the yarn I work with.  Here is what I've found so far:

Bamboo seems to be the new superstar of ecofriendly materials, and I do love the incredible softness this fiber adds to yarns and fabrics.  True, this plant is a fast-growing renewable resource.  However, processing the fibers into fabrics and yarn uses chemicals that are not earth friendly.  This came as a reminder to me that I need to consider all the aspects of production when choosing yarns.

Using organically grown materials is a major goal for me.  I am shifting more and more to using organic cotton yarns, although they tend to be a bit more expensive.  I would love if I could find an organic cotton yarn grown in the US, but Canada is as close as I can get right now.  Cotton has a drawback, too, though, in that its growth requires the use of lots of water.  Not exactly low impact.  I'm checking into hemp and linen next, as they seem to provide properties similar to cotton without the use of so much water.

Wool has traditionally been considered an organic yarn, although to be truly organic, the sheep need to be organically fed, and the fibers need to be processed in a chemical-free way.  Some have expressed concerns about instances where shearing has caused injury to sheep, also, although the practices leading to injury are becoming less and less prevalent.  I am allergic to sheep's wool, so I don't often work with this fiber.

Alpaca and cashmere both seem to be a good choice as an alternative to wool.  Happily for me, alpaca is hypoallergenic, comes in a variety of rich earth tones, and is less expensive than cashmere, which is famous as a luxury fiber.  These fibers are gathered by combing.  Alpacas have a low impact on the environment due to their soft feet.  No information has come my way about whether alpacas or goats whose hair is made into yarn are organically fed yet. 

Stay tuned if you're interested in more- next I'll be checking into hemp, linen and silk!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Chemo Caps and Comfort

For the next two months, my amazing CreateCrochet Team on Etsy is supporting one of our members as she participates in a Relay for Life event in June.  We are making chemotherapy hats and other comfort items that cancer patients, survivors, and/or their loved ones can purchase at her booth at the event, with all proceeds going to Relay for Life.  Some of us are going even further by identifying items in our shops that, when purchased, will be donated to a local cancer treatment center or hospital, with the money collected then donated to Relay for Life.

I have known just a few people in the course of my life who have had cancer.  I knew that cancer is fairly common.  But when members of the CreateCrochet Team started naming people who they would like to have remembered during this event, cancer's prevalence and impact was made starkly clear to me.  As was the need for many more of us to take on the burden of raising awareness and funding to find better treatments and, ultimately, a cure. 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Pick of the Day

So all last month, no matter how hard I tried to keep up with weather forecasts, I was never wearing the appropriate amount of clothing.  I was either sweating because I'd expected cooler temperatures, or freezing because, well, it was warm that morning so I didn't wear a sweater!  Oh, March.  How fickle you were.

And now it's April.  Summer, apparently.  NOT prepared again.  I have found it very hard to settle on a crochet project each day with these rapid weather fluctuations!  For me, that means that whatever yarn I have on hand is just not right for what I want to do... so yarn shopping has become a daily ritual, much like going to the market to find fresh produce for tonight's dinner.

This technique can be quite productive, if I am able to use up the day's pick before the next day rolls around.  LOL.  I've got to get some shelves and organize my collection, so that those older selections stay fresh longer and I can transform their raw energy into useful, lovely items before being tempted by the newest harvest elsewhere.