There seems to have been plenty posted around social media in recent months about wool and it’s pros and cons. As with many issues there is some truth on both sides and at the risk of boring people with this issue that is everywhere, I feel I need to let people know how I operate.
There has been a backlash against using wool, partly driven by the vegan movement and partly by videos that have surfaced showing shearers treating animals unkindly and the use of mulesing in some merino farms in Australia. These videos can’t be denied and it’s important that issues of animal welfare are raised and put right. Unethical treatment of sheep is just not acceptable and I would never use fibre from sources that I wasn’t 100% sure of.
That said, to encourage people to use manmade fibres instead of natural fibres seems like a short term view. Plastics are a huge problem that our planet is struggling to deal with so acrylic yarn, as much as it is a convenient machine washable fabric will not biodegrade or provide nutrients to the soil as wool does. Wool is a part of the fibre of this country, it certainly would look like a different place without the sheep that we see dotted on our hillsides. Take a look at this info from the National Sheep Association:
More than 40% of our breeding flock is based in the uplands of the UK- and it is no accident that our strong sheep areas are also our biggest tourism areas, as sheep have created and continue to maintain our iconic landscapes.
As well as creating beautiful landscapes, sheep also support wildlife and plant biodiversity. Without sheep our grassland, and upland land in particularly, would become overtaken by scrub and coarse vegetation, becoming less valuable to many types of plants, small mammals and ground nesting birds, and at risk of environmental damage by wildfires. areas are also our biggest tourism areas, as sheep have created and continueto maintain our iconic landscapes.
In lowland areas sheep put lots of natural nutrients back into the ground that the growing of cereals and vegetables takes out. Yes, we’re talking about poo!
Sheep produce a thick woolly coat called a fleece to protect them from the weather, both hot and cold. Wool is the most sustainable fibre in the world. It’s a natural product of the sheep’s life cycle and the welfare of sheep is improved by them being shorn. Wool is a stable carbon store that is produced by little more than solar powered grass and herbage.
So I will continue to champion the use of wool, you can be assured it’s from a reputable source when you attend one of my workshops or buy one of my scarves. Lets value this fabulous fibre.