On Wool - and other thoughts

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Last week I announced that I was going to run a small knit-along - the #winterwoolkal - aimed at carrying on, in some small way, the fabulous Wovember love from previous years. You can read the original blog post here.

I had planned to do a slightly bigger event but my enforced wi-fi break the week before during our family holiday meant that it was all a bit rushed. Still, I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response. Lots of knitters gleefully rootled through their stash or took the opportunity to buy a skein from a new-to-them producer or dyer.

So far so good. It was a bit of a surprise then to be greeted with, what a friend laughingly termed a ‘wool backlash’. I received a steady stream of emails, PMs and messages suggesting that my focus on 100% wool (the original Wovember principles) was somehow elitist and risked alienating a large number of knitters.

Quite apart from the hysterical thought of a bunch of grown adults being scared off by 50g of Blue Faced Leicester DK, my grandma (who always knit with with wool) would have been tickled pink to be called elitist.

Seriously! How can the choice of wool over other fibres be controversial. It has been such a staple of textile production for 100s of years. I think many of the comments stem from the misconception that wool is somehow expensive and that certainly seemed to be a recurring theme in my emails. This is an excellent article by Louise of KnitBritish which most excellently debunks that myth.

I have always maintained that there is a valid place for acrylic yarn. But that place is not in a KAL aimed at promoting wool and the British wool industry. Including acrylic and other fibres in the KAL would detract from the whole message in the same way that calling a £1 ball of acrylic yarn from Aldi “wool”, detracts from the value of wool as a living, breathing, essential resource for knitters.

In addition, just because a group of people have chosen to apply the term “wool” to anything you can knit with (as opposed to calling it yarn) it doesn’t mean you can use it in a wool KAL. If it didn’t come from a sheep then it isn’t wool.

Wool has so many wondrous qualities, which others have expressed far more eloquently than I can - just browse the Wovember back catalogue of articles for inspiration. Acrylic yarn and other fibres obviously have their place but can never replace wool in my opinion

Nothing beats the the feel, the squish and the smell of real wool. No one - to my knowledge - has ever ripped open a bag of petroleum based yarn product and gleefully inhaled the aroma within. And for that reason, I am and will remain a wool enthusiast to my very core.