Thursday, 8 September 2011

British Wool Week 2011: Part 1

This week is British Wool Week, celebrating everything that is great about the amazing textile that is Wool, from British herds, with British Designers (and a few italian ones thrown in there too). 
To kickstart this week, La Galleria in London, is hosting "an exhibition that showcases the true versatility of the natural wool fibre. It will feature exclusive creations by renowned fashion designers and interior decorations. It will show wool in all forms of application from fashion to technical and intelligent textiles, to car interiors, safety needs, crafts and the built environment."
It sounds utterly fantastic! It opened today (8/9/11) and runs till the end of the month (29/9/11). If you can get to London, do it, they have over 50 contributors, from Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith to YSL and Alexander McQueen, incredible! 

This is, of course, part of the British Campaign to give fair prices to farmers for their herds' wool. As it stood last year, farmers were receiving less for their wool than it cost for them to be shorn, making it a heartbraking and expensive but necessary task. Along with this, sheep numbers were declining all over the world,  a crisis was upon us. 
Another threat is man-made fibres, synthetic and oil based (with environmental problems of their own).

HRH The Prince of Wales is behind this campaign, painting an apocalyptic view of the world, imagine our historic landscapes without sheep, not only in England, but New Zealand and Australia, Wales, how awful would it be with a constantly declining Wool Industry, and less and less sheep?

If you know me, you know I love sheep; I think it's great when you can get a sustainable product from an animal (being a vegetarian, but not against eating meat, strange enough!) without causing harm. Wool is the epitome of this, and what's better, is that it can be so beautiful! 
Even in its natural form.

As part of this post, here are a few of my favourite wools that I love to knit with, 
or want to in the near future. 

Debbie Bliss is always a faviourite of mine, it's like buying an expensive brand of chocolates, total indulgent luxury. I got this particular colour, Mustard No.8, for a hat that I wanted to knit (reveal tomorrow!) and I must say, it is fantastic to knit with. The yarn is a sort of crochet, giving a very elastic feel to work with, reminds me of the old chinese finger traps. It is also super soft, 60% Baby Alpaca (which is awesome, and totally cute) and 40% Merino. It comes in 17+ colours, but I especially love the Mustard (above) and the Sky, Purple, Teal and the Rust.
£5.85/50g (I used about 70g for a hat). 

I've seen a few Louisa Harding yarns in my local store, such as the Alpaca/Wool/Nylon mix which is so soft! But I love this hand-dyed wool from her, totally amazing, comes in lots of colour mixes too. The above colour is 15 Limited, but one of my faviourites is "Pigeon" and is a cool mix of icy grey/silver and teal blue, as well as Damson, Latte and Autumn Fruit.

Noro is on my "to knit with" list. Fantastic multi coloured yarn, made in japan, and with lovely soft fibres mixes too, what's not to love? There tonnes is also of Noro Collections, each with their own individual differences.  Love it. 

Oh gosh, pure excitement. Rowan 100% British Undyed Wool. Each colour type is from a different breed, and I love that. You can see each wool, know what type of sheep it came from and have a bit of heritage, history and community in your hands.
It's what I love about crafting and knitting, that it can be on such a small, close scale. 
My next step is to find wool from specific farms and herds. 


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