Thoughts for Vegetarian Knitters

[color=blue]Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a debate about working with animal fibers or cruelty to animals. It’s simply the thoughts and concerns of a vegetarian who loves to knit with animal fibers, but sometimes can’t get past the guilt. Also, this discussion is mainly aimed at vegetarians…I don’t want to offend any meat-eaters here. I have no problem with meat-eaters…my husband eats meat and so do my cats and my dog (in fact, they eat a homemade, mainly raw meat diet…that I prepare for them!), so please don’t misunderstand my intentions. Thank you.[/color] :hug:

I’m not sure how many fellow vegetarian knitters are here on KH…but for those here who are knitters and vegetarians…what are your views on working with silk?

Now…I’m not a vegan. I do eat dairy, eggs, and honey…and I primarily knit with wool yarns. But…somehow I just can’t seem to force myself to buy silk yarn. :pout: I’ll touch it, pet it, sniff it…dream of all the pretty things I could make with it…but when it comes time to make a decision, I simply can’t buy it. I know where silk comes from…I know there is no way to get silk without the silkworm dying…and that one issue loses to my morals. sigh

A similar mind-game situation happened to me a couple weeks ago when I was reading an Interweave Knits magazine gifted to me by a lovely KH’er. There was an article about buffalo yarn. I immediately thought, “Hey, cool!!” and was all excited about trying it out until I finished the article and read that there is no way to get fiber from a live buffalo. The fiber is only cultivated from slaughtered (for meat) animals. Now, again, I do realize that most wool yarns I can buy commercially probably come from slaughtered sheep…but I’ve been trying to buy my wool from more economical sources, or second-hand. I don’t like supporting slaughter houses.

I just wish there was a way to get these wonderful, natural fibers without any harm coming to the animal it came from. I suppose, though, until my husband and I can afford our 5-10 acres of land and adopt our own sheep and alpacas, I will have to make do with what I can get and just hope that the animal it came from did not suffer much.

Any thoughts from my fellow veg knitters? Thanks for reading. :heart:

Have you done any reading about Peace Silk?

No, I’ve never heard of it. Thank you for the link, I’m checking it out now! :hug:

I highly doubt that “most” yarn comes from slaughtered sheep. It’s more profitable to raise the sheep and get wool every year. I think sheepskin is more likely to come from slaughtered sheep, especially since Ugg boots have become so popular lately.

I’m not a vegetarian, but I can see where you’re coming from with silk. But it’s so soft. :pout:

See now, that’s what I originally thought. That wool comes from sheep that are being raised just for their wool. But then somebody told me that they only raise them for their wool for a couple of years, and then they are sent to slaughter! This person seems to like shattering my dreams though, so perhaps she only said this to hurt my feelings. Who knows… :shrug:

I am not vegetarian though most people think I am. I eat very little meat and am very conscious of where my meat comes from.

One thing I would have to consider is that I would prefer that if they are already killing the animals for their meat, isn’t it better to use as much of the animal as possible? (there was no way of asking that question without me shuddering a little bit) In my mind I think of all the time that animals have been killed strictly for their pelts while leaving the carcass to rot. It is sort of the same thing to me. It seems better to use the whole animal rather than to just discard the pelt. (I really don’t feel like I am being clear about my thinking here!)

I do have some curiousity about why they have to be killed for the fur but not enough that I actually want to know the answer because i am about 99% positive i will NOT like the answer.

I struggle with these kinds of issues myself, and tend to see myself as wildly hypocritical, to be honest… I’m not a vegetarian (yet?), but won’t eat anything from a mammal and haven’t for 12 years now (except that sometimes gelatin sneaks in with vitamins, because I’ve been unable to find vegetarian alternatives for some of them) … I do wear leather shoes… I do eat poultry and fish (for now), and can’t see giving up eggs or dairy (for now) … I won’t wear fur… so I’m kind of all over the map. I do have and use silk yarn.

I have no answers. I feel very conflicted.

I’m pretty sure your friend is right, based on the fact that dairy cattle are eventually usually slaughtered for meat as well, as are layer hens.

I believe killing the worm is the commercial way to do it but not the only way - The other way is longer and more expensive but the wormy gets to live!

Something that concerns me and I would Never by this is the yarn called Tufutsies by SWTC (I think) it contains Chitin which is made from
shrimp and crab shells. I don’t eat meat or seafood, so why should I wear it.

I’ve had the discussion on numerous occasions that the shells are a bi-product of someone else eating it and it would go to waste otherwise, but in my opinion the ‘waste’ should be put back into the ecosystem it came from to allow for some kind of balance.

I’ve heard that some Yarns use Lanolin in the making too, although that’s not from a reliable source and I haven’t managed to find a lot of info about it - yet.

I think we should all be careful about where our yarn was sourced and how it was fabricated though, there is so much natter about the clothes dying industry polluting the earth I’m sure Yarn falls into there somewhere.

Its just so expensive to buy the more ethical yarns though

I’m gonna git that kitty and shave it and knit it!

I know where you’re coming from. Many people have that way of thinking…and it makes perfect sense to use the whole animal so none of it gets wasted. However, I’m of the frame of mind that if I give my money to a company slaughtering animals, even if my money does not go towards their meat, I am still contributing to their slaughter. The guilt becomes overwhelming at times. :pout:

Kirochka, the life of a vegetarian is a very conflicting one. It seems as though no matter how hard we try to be kind to our furry friends, our kindness doesn’t even begin to make a dent in the cruelty that is many times forced on them.

Well, I poked around on Wiki after reading your response, Feminine Earth. It is not, obviously, a particularly reliable source, but the impression I got was that there are farmers who raise lambs for slaughter, and farmers who raise sheep for wool. I’m sure that once the sheep are past breeding, they are slaughtered. :pout:

But at least in the US, where mutton isn’t eaten much, sheep are raised primarily for wool. (Can’t speak for mutton consumption in other countries.)

Stine, just throwing this out, but what about the pet food industry? I’d guess lots of sheep end up there… :pout:

I did a little poking around on the web about wool from slaughtered sheep and from what I can tell, you are more likely to have “pulled yarn” in your wool carpeting than in your Cascade 220.

The yarn from slaughtered sheep produces an inferior wool than what is harvested after shearing live sheep. I don’t think it finds it’s way into the higher priced yarns at our local LYS.

If you are upset about how the live sheep are treated when they are sheared maybe you could look for yarn that comes from sheep who are humanely raised and treated. In my area there is a farm that raises their own sheep, has it cleaned, carded and dyed, and then sells it. It is a non-profit working farm that serves as an educational center for the area and I know that they treat their animals kindly.

While you may not get a name brand fancy yarn, you can find some very nice wool to work with and feel good about it, too.



Yeah, probably.

If you look at it from a business perspective, though, I can’t really blame the farmers. They are doing this as a livelihood. People want wool–it’s used on piano hammers, it’s felted, it’s made into clothes, and it’s made into yarn for knitters. When a sheep gets old and sick, and is no longer providing wool, or even a sheep dies of natural causes, what can the farmer do? Bury it and move on? While that would eventually make for one really fertile field, it’s not profitable. If they’re selling to pet food companies, well, cats and dogs are naturally carnivores, and I think it’s unnatural to feed them vegetarian diets. I think it’s equally unnatural when farmers “recycle” their cattle or sheep by feeding it back to their livestock–cows and sheep are naturally vegetarian, and they should be fed vegetable matter. (But sheep can’t eat clover, or else they bloat and die. The things you learn from reading Thomas Hardy novels. :teehee:)

Humans, on the other hand, are naturally omnivores who came from vegetarian roots…and we have an individual choice about what we decide to put into our bodies, and there are no wrong choices (unless you are a cannibal. :ick:)

Anyway, if anyone decides to stop using wool or other animal fibers for personal reasons, I respect that decision, and the reasons why you made it. :hug:

Thanks for all the responses, everyone! I appreciate each and every one of them. :hug:

:pout: These issues are always difficult. I do think it’s important to at least get the information and then take the decision that’s right for you. But I find I’m trapped in that kind of debate. Everybody have an agenda: the farmers, the industry, the animal rights organizations… All of them have lied to people at some point, so it’s hard to really get the truth in all this.

I have heard of a big controversy regarding PETA who were actively fighting the wool industry. It seemed pretty clear they were distorting some of the facts. Of course, the industry uses the same technique all the time… :wall:

I totally understand your concerns. :hug:

if i m not wrong…silk is produce by the vomit of a worm… correct me if i m wrong

I’m not a vegetarian but I try to buy humanely raised meat and fish that’s not endangered or being raised in a way that hurts the environment.

I’m also in that conflicted category…I agree that killing animals for food and not using all of their resources is wasteful; people in my immediate family were literally nearly starving less than 50 years ago, so I believe pretty strongly in this. However, I won’t buy leather (and certainly won’t buy fur).

Also, I think I have sort of a Buddhist view on life in that I feel that animals should be viewed equally. If

My other half and I talk about this sometimes. On one hand, many animals are being raised cruelly. On the other hand, raising and selling these animals is a matter of livelihood for many people. You can’t blame them if they have to support their families–the demand is out there in the market. And also, there are many, many people in the world who are going hungry and would

Commercial silk is harvested from boiling silk worms in their cocoons. :pout:

:shock: :ick: