Review: AwareKnits

AwareKnits : Knit & Crochet Projects for the Eco-conscious Stitcher 9781600594694 by Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong has some interesting information in it. The patterns are in Ravelry and once again, I’ll link to the KnitPicks site for DJ to see pictures.

Vickie Howell’s books are generally for a younger (and hipper) audience than I, usually teens-early twenties. The patterns in this book don’t make me feel as old and aren’t as trendy as some, so they won’t date as quickly. Many of them are pretty standard fare you can find elsewhere, but nice enough. The look pretty easy and mostly fairly fast knits (except for blankets). As the title says, the book includes both knit (23) and crochet (8) items, including a few baby items as well. The patterns use a variety of yarns from different companies, but most are worsted to bulky in size. A really wide selection of fibers is also used, including alpaca, cotton, camel, linen, soy, corn, paper, plastic bags, jute, t-shirts and of course wool.

The author’s consider all the projects can be considered sustainable for one of these reasons:

  • The source material comes from a crop that is consistently in abundance and therefore easily regenerated.
  • The wool comes from animals that were raised organically and humanely.
  • The “yarn” was created by recycling and repurposing otherwise disposable objects.
  • The production and sale of the yarn supports and benefits the livelihood of independent people or communities.

The best part about the book is the information about the environmental impact of various fibers and other things to think about (such as buying locally, buying well made items that are fair trade, even though they cost more, etc.). None of this was new to me—I have been aware of all this for at least the last decade, but it was nice to see it in a mainstream book. The comments are not in depth, but they encourage you to think about things. I especially appreciated the bit on cashmere and how cheap cashmere is causing environmental problems (again not new to me, but something I don’t see other people mentioning very often).

The authors also give short blurbs about several organizations of interest to knitters with a sustainability/fair trade interest. I had not heard of most of these: Manos del Uruguay; Rwanda Knits Project; Krochet Kids International; Oomingmak Musk Ox Producers’ Co-Operative; Quaytu; and Fair Trade Knitters.

The pattern that is the most interesting to me is the baby sleep sack. I have never heard of such an item. If it would make a good baby gift, it would be easy to make (or something similar). It hardly needs a pattern – it is basically a 14.5×12” bag with a bodice about 9×5, with a design in front and 2 buttoning straps. I’ll probably be told patterns of this sort are in tons of baby knitting books, which I just don’t make a practice of looking at.

Another item I found interesting is the Capelet Crusader. It is crocheted using two strands of yarn – a silk/bamboo blend held with a Habu textiles linen paper yarn. I find it interesting to see how this yarn is used.

I could actually contemplate making something in the book if it happened to be around (like if I was to turn some of that KoolAid yarn into fingerless mitts soon), but I don’t think I’d ever seek the book out. So, definitely not one for me to own, but other people may like it. And it would be a good introduction to the issues for someone not aware of them (especially for someone younger).

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