“As a society, we’ve trapped ourselves in a kind of reverse Fordism. Instead of paying workers well enough so that they can afford good, honestly-priced products – as Henry Ford endeavored to do so his workers might afford to his cars – we pay them so little that the only food they can afford is junk food destructive of their health and environment.
In October 2015, I sat in a lecture hall in Vancouver, BC listening to Clara Parkes present her lecture The Great White Bale. I was riveted. I couldn’t even knit as I listened to her experiences in the genesis of Clara Yarn; it was inspiring. Towards the end of her lecture, Clara read the above quote from Michael Pollan and I nearly fell off my chair. For years I’ve been mindful of our diet, chosen local and organic, and made dietary choices not only for the betterment of my health, but the environment, too. Why had I never considered the sheep, farmers, or environment when buying my yarn??
I cannot even claim ignorance on the subject either. I’ve listened to the podcasts, read articles about the treatment of yarn, and heard firsthand about what the chemical does to the yarn and afterwards our planet. However, not a single piece of information landed as that quote did that Friday night. I adore Michael Pollan; I’ve read his books, his articles and listened to his Ted Talk. In Clara delivering the quote, two of my worlds, my passions, collided. A friend sitting across from me saw it how it affected me. In that exact moment, literally, I knew my goal for 2016: my year of knitting clean. No superwash. No synthetics. Yarn where I can identify the source.
Be it from a dyer or a farmer, I want to know where the sheep/alpacas graze and are sheered. I want to know where the raw wool is milled and spun. When it reaches the dyer, I want to know why it was sought, and if there is any inspiration for colourways. I am approaching this year as I did when I went to the local farmers market. I will approach the seller and seek information to better understand the process and product. I want to know the who, what, where, why and how. Heck, even the when.
When my little family walks away from the farmers market each week, we feel connected to our community. We eagerly anticipate dinner, both the consumption of it and the preparation. We feel gratitude and reverence for the offerings and the hands that grew it. Simply put, food tastes better for knowing its history!
In my yarn purchases for 2016, I want to feel the same reverence for wool. I want to be giddy about winding it. I want to be transported as the yarn moves across my needles and in my hands. I want to be connected to the farm and the community.
That is not to say that I don’t have those feelings now. I have shelves full of beautiful yarn lovingly dyed and treated with care. Yarn that glows with vibrant colour and elicits such joy from me. I smile like there’s a hanger in my mouth as I pull an adored skein out into the light and hold it to my face to nuzzle. (Yes, nuzzle. I’m a yarn nuzzler.) I know many of the dyers, have gotten to know them and even in some cases built friendships. I’m grateful for these skeins, these dyers, and their genius in their creativity.
Frankly, reading the quote out of the context of the lecture, it doesn’t hit me the same way. Maybe it’s the #ClaraEffect? However, I’m honouring the idea, and charging head strong into the new year with fervour.
Perhaps my goal is a tad lofty. Maybe my expectations are out to lunch. Alas, I’m diving in ready to learn and ready to be grateful.
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