Book Review: Knitting Green

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Knitting Green - Projects for the environmentally conscious knitter

Ann Budd, author of a range of wonderful knitting books, including "The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters", "Getting Started Knitting Socks" and "Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns" tackled some wider questions about sustainability and Knitting Green, Ann Budd - I Wool Knitenvironmentalism for knitters in "Knitting Green. Conversations and planet-friendly projects." (2010). 

The publication is more than just a treatise on how to be a green knitter. The book also contains patterns for 31 interesting projects, ranging from kimono-style jackets to lace-knit jumpers, shawls, bags, toys and hats. This makes it a treasure trove of ideas worth having for the patterns alone (see images of some of the patterns on the book cover and the photos below). 

North American Hoodie Pattern - Knitting Green - I Wool Knit

"Knitting green" left me pondering: What makes an environmentally conscious yarn producer, shop owner, designer or knitter? One thing is clear to me after reading this book - being green is not that simple when it comes to yarns.

A good start would be to use more natural fibres than acrylics for most projects. Here at I Wool Knit, we offer almost exclusively yarns made from natural fibres, with very few exceptions.

Personally, I prefer working with natural fibres not only for environmental reasons, but because they are so much nicer to work with and so much more comfortable to wear. There is a level of comfort and enjoyment working with wool, silk, Merino, Alpaca and cashmere that is simply unmatched by chemical fibres.

Farmers Market Bag - Knitting Green - I Wool KnitHowever, "Knitting green" made me aware that even when it comes to natural fibres not everything that sounds environmentally friendly actually is. A case in point are yarns made from woody fibres such as bamboo. Bamboo is currently quite in fashion among the environmentally conscious in Australia, as it seems very green: it grows incredibly fast, it is renewable, it is very comfortable to wear, but is it environmentally friendly? Unfortunately, the conversion from the raw product to a soft and wearable yarn requires so much energy and chemical intervention, that in many cases it is hard to justify bamboo as a green yarn. 

Hat - Knitting Green - I Wool KnitIn fact, bamboo and other woody plants have been made into yarns for a long time and have generally been known as "Viscose" or "Rayon" - which sounds a lot less green than bamboo! It was the re-badging as "bamboo yarn" that made it sound "green". Whether a particular bamboo yarn actually is environmentally friendly or not can be quite a different question and very much comes down to the individual product and how it was made.

So how can you be a green knitter? Ann Budd does not necessarily have a definite answer, either. The value of this book is in raising awareness, asking questions and offering ideas, as well as providing a selection of lovely patterns to work from. 

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