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Now we are all realising the damage mankind has inflicted on our world, everyone is taking steps to look after the planet. Whether that’s recycling more waste, turning the heating down – a good excuse to put on another piece of knitwear! – or choosing to drive a car with lower emissions. We can also carry this into our crafting by carefully choosing the yarns that we knit with. Over the years there’s been a huge change in the yarn fibres available to us. I think this started with bamboo. I noticed it increase in popularity shortly after I opened my shop 11 years ago. Bamboo is sustainable, offers antibacterial properties and has the drape and strength of silk when knitted – a lot of people who can’t wear wool use bamboo yarn for knitting socks. Alternative fibres are also great for those who find themselves allergic or sensitive to wool. Not everyone wants to knit with manmade yarn, so these relatively new additions are embraced by the adventurous crafter. I have also seen lovely yarns containing not just bamboo, but seaweed, hemp and linen, and I recently discovered a yarn containing rose fibre. It’s exciting to try them and see what they’re like to work with.

The other thing to consider is using yarns that are produced in the UK. At knitting and fibre shows where I exhibit, there are a growing number of small companies selling yarn manufactured in the UK using local sheep or alpaca fibres. There is also a growing number of people wanting to use more sustainable alternatives – me included! I had the pleasure of collaborating with Rachel Atkinson from The Daughter of a Shepherd recently. Rachel has taken fleeces from her father’s flock of Hebridean sheep at the Escrick estate in North Yorkshire and gone through the expensive and time-consuming process of building a range of yarn. If you want to find out more about British yarn then you must listen to Louise Scollay’s podcast, Knit British. Louise decided to knit with only British yarn made from locally-sourced fibres and it’s quite eye-opening! At Edinburgh Yarn Festival, Louise displayed bunting that used my mini Christmas jumper bunting pattern, which you can find for free on Ravelry. She encouraged her listeners to contribute to it with 100 mini jumpers to celebrate her 100th episode – it was amazing!

Is your yarn stash getting out of control? Sue helps you tackle it!

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