As I’ve said before, I’m brand new to all needle work. Sadly, this is just not something I took any interest in growing up. I was too busy playing soccer all over the Midwest. I even traveled to Denmark for an international soccer tournament when I was fifteen. I don’t regret the time I spent playing sports, but it’s certainly a trade-off with time for acquiring skills. I can do some really neat pick-ups with a soccer balls and juggle to 100, but I can hardly sew on a button. My family still has an antique sewing machine somewhere in the house….not that it would be help me much, but it’s still inspiring.
Now that I’m introducing myself to this new skill, I am keeping in mind certain environmental concerns. For example, I’m interested in the kinds of thread you should use for your projects. The problems of traditionally grown cotton are starting to emerge. According to the Pan North American Pesticide Action Network, cotton relies on more insecticides and pesticides than any other single crop. These pesticides, some of the most hazardous on the market, can harm farm workers, especially in developing countries, contaminate ground and surface water, and kill beneficial insects, social micro-organisms, and wildlife.
Organic cotton production uses no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and instead relies on natural processes, such as enhancing soil quality, to increase yields and disease resistance. Just as more and more clothing manufacturers are using organic cotton by consumer demand, you can find organic cotton yarn quite easily these days.
Interesting, industrial hemp (not marijuana!) is a sustainable crop and viable alternative to cotton and tree paper (which uses bleach and contributes to deforestation). Hemp can be used for insulation, biodegradable plastic, fuel, and more. More importantly, hemp requires little to no pesticides or herbicides and effectively controls erosion of topsoil. Nonetheless, the U.S. classifies hemp as a Schedule 1 Drug under the United States Controlled Substances Act and is the only developed country that prohibits the growing of hemp as an agricultural crop.
You can purchase hemp yarn from many different places but this one of the best I have found, a Canadian online shop called Hemp for Knitting. They have their very own page about hemp. Aside from the environmental concerns, they say that it’s the strongest natural fiber and gets softer with every wash!