I've been intending to write this post for quite some time, but something I read recently has compelled me to postpone it no longer.
You probably know by now that I only use natural, i.e. non-synthetic, fibers in my work. There are numerous reasons for this, some of which include the fact that animal fibers such as wool and alpaca have insulating properties and plant fibers are breathable, whereas acrylics and other manmade fibers are not. This has to do with the microscopic scales found on animal and plant fibers, which create space between the individual fibers. Synthetic fibers are completely uniform and don't have this property. Shown under a microscope, the different fibers appear like this:
For me, personally, it also comes down to which fiber is more sensually pleasurable to work with and a superfine alpaca is a joy to have running through my fingers, but I can't say the same for polyester. I also consider the processes used to create all these fibers, and without going into a great deal of research on the subject, I can only imagine the toxic chemicals used to create man-made fibers.
So the environmental factor has always been a consideration for me, and reading this article in The Guardian just added to my concerns. You can read the article here, but I'll give you the basics. Ecologist Mark Browne has been studying sediment along shorelines around the world and has found that it is full of fibers, the greatest concentration near sewage outflows. "In fact, 85% of the human-made material found on the shoreline were microfibers, and matched the types of material, such as nylon and acrylic, used in clothing." Studies have shown that ocean organisms ingest microplastics and introduce toxins into the food chain. The article goes on to say, "By sampling wastewater from domestic washing machines, Browne estimated that around 1,900 individual fibers can be rinsed off a single synthetic garment - ending up in our oceans." I don't know about you, but this was an eye-opener for me. This is not to say that natural fibers do not end up in the wastewater, too, but the difference is that natural fibers will break down over time. Synthetics do not.
There's an additional point to be made in the Guardian article regarding some of the big clothing manufacturers, but you can read the piece yourself to learn more about this issue, if you're interested.
So there you have it; possibly more than you wanted to know. I promise prettier pictures next time!
Maybe its my imagination, but I think I can already feel a hint of fall in the air. Here I am in central Mexico in August. One would expect it to be hot. But the elevation here is 2,063 meters, over 6,760 feet, so the air can be cool when the sun is not out. Mornings are usually fresh and cool and delightful. Summer is also rainy season here and the thunderheads often build up in the afternoon and, if we're lucky, a nice rain will fall. (Although, sometimes we can be too lucky and receive a torrential downpour.) Then all is sunny again in the morning.
Its the time of year when I need to dress a little more warmly, but I'm not yet ready to pull out the winter woolens. Which makes these organic cotton sweaters I've been knitting the perfect solution. They're a little bit chunky and provide a nice, cozy feeling -- just the right amount of warmth for heading into fall.
I've loved working with this Peruvian organic cotton. It is super-soft and has been spun alternating thick and thin, which makes for a fun textural effect. But, I must admit, while knitting with this I've also been thinking of and looking forward to digging into the superfine alpaca yarn for winter wear. More on that very soon!
As promised, here's a preview of the latest works off my needles made from the wonderful organic cotton yarn I recently received. I'm really enjoying working with it, in part because it is a much thicker yarn than I've previously been using, so things seem to knit up very quickly compared to what I'm accustomed to.
It is also fun to see how the fabric unfurls from the needles with this thick-and-thin yarn, which gives a much more irregular, handmade appearance than my usual fine and even work.
Above you can see the boxy garter-stitch cardigan with drop shoulders I made. I love this raspberry pink! Above that is a glimpse of a shell top in aqua. There is also another style of shell top that is nearly complete in a very subtle sage color. Once that is done, I'll take more photos and put all three up for sale in the shop.
With any luck at all, these should be available for purchase next week.
Connie is a knitter and gardener in love with life on a small ranch in rural Mexico.