So I started to think harder about the source of my scarf materials. If it's wool, what were the conditions of the animals raised for wool? Did the wool travel halfway around the globe to get to me, from Australia and New Zealand, which are the leading wool producers? If it's cotton yarn, what about pesticides? If it's acrylic, it's manufactured with polycrylonitriles, which may be carcinogenic. And then there are the dyes, probably laden with toxins rubbing up against your chin as you try to keep warm.
This batch of yarn came from happy sheep upstate, care of Catskill Merino, a farm that sells lamb meat and hand-dyed wool at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays. You may have noticed their gorgeously colored natural-dyed skeins while passing through the market. This fascinating Osage and Logwood color looks gray-green indoors with highlights of lime green in sunlight. The yarn is soft and I loved working with it. It wasn't that much more expensive than "nice" wool at a regular yarn store, so I felt it was worth it. There are many other eco-friendly yarn options out there, and alternatively, you could also check out your local thrift store for yarn or unravel an old sweater to reuse.
I like that kniting lets me relax and feel productive at the same time. It's a welcome way to slow down in this busy era of life when I feel I should always be accomplishing something with my time. The repetitive process is a meditative kind of multi-tasking, knitting while sitting around the living room watching TV with roommates or chatting on the subway.
I've got more yarn leftover from a lazy scarf fail last year, so I think a friend or family member might find a scarf under their tree this December. Who wants one? I'm considering expanding my repertoire to add some kind of pattern this time. This holiday season, I challenge you to also not only buy or make handmade gifts, but to think harder about handmade.
hanging yarn photo via flickr