On twitter and through blogs I am surrounded by knitters, so I couldn’t help but notice that this week was National Wool Week. This is something that was set up in 2010 by the Prince of Wales and runs from the 14th to the 20th of October. It’s aim is to get everyone choosing ‘natural, renewable, biodegradable’ British wool. This is a wonderful concept. However, I can honestly say that I have hardly ever bought British wool, nor do I ever really use ‘wool’.
I knit or crochet pretty much constantly. Nearly every free moment I have is spent with yarn in my hand. Acrylic yarn. The problem is that however beautiful and sumptuous a ball of hand-spun hand-dyed wool is, I cannot afford it on my budget. A hand spun ball of wool can be anything between £8 to £20 per 100g. A ball of Special DK acrylic is £1.35.
Most things I make are for our toddler, who is two. Anyone who has a toddler can appreciate that anything I make needs to be machine washable and durable. I can’t knit her a jumper that needs carefully handwashing when it’s covered in spaghetti and bananas. It would be a complete waste of time and money. After all, handknitting is considered thrifty, but I often see knitting patterns where the suggested wool can cost around £75! I couldn’t afford to pay that for a jumper, never mind the components of one. What I make for myself or the house is usually using leftovers, so it’s obviously acrylic too.
I’m fully aware of the difference in quality, I have bought the odd expensive skein for ‘heirloom’ projects in the past, but unless it’s a one or two ball project, the costs can spiral. Even then, on our limited budget I can’t justify £15 for the wool to knit one pair of socks.
I do feel guilty, I would love to order armfuls of beautifully hand dyed skeins from independent retailers, but my budget just does not allow for it. Maybe if circumstances change I will get my dream stash of locally produced wool, but until then I’ll have to wish the Prince of Wales luck and cling to my one extravagant purchase a year. From an independent British retailer, of course.
Check out this blog for a wonderfully comprehensive list of British Yarn