Becca and I both come from one-parent families. From our different angles we came to the same point of getting what we wanted from having little means. As we have also always been mindful of the ethics of clothing and environmentally conservative, this has meant that now we find ourselves in the unique position of being one step ahead. Inherent laziness means that we don’t frequently wash our clothes; they walk to the washing machine which only goes on when it is full. We haven’t been able to afford tumble driers so our clothes line-dry. We also save energy (ours and electricity) by rarely ironing but as our clothes line-dry they are less likely to need much ironing. Do you mind if we are slightly crumpled?
From the first opening of our little shop in Shrewsbury Market Hall, we have always checked the ethical credentials of our suppliers. We made a decision to avoid wool from New Zealand and Australia due to animal welfare issues and have checked where our other foreigners come from. First, we look local for new products then to all of Britain and finally if we can’t find the right thing to fill the gap, we look abroad. We have always had recycled paper bags, washi tape and fair-trade coffee. All along the way we have constantly asked “why are we doing this?”, “who gets hurt by this?”, “can we do this better/more ethically/ more sustainably?”
The IPCC report, climate crisis and the rise of Extinction Rebellion has meant we have been even more vigilant in our questioning of ourselves. The Big Shop has been furnished with second hand furniture, crockery and cutlery. What we had to buy new is fair-trade and organic and compostable.
We are now re-examining our stock and why we have it. We stock wool (more about that and its alternatives in the next blog) and ethical plant fibres. We believe that our customers want high quality yarn because if you are taking the time and effort to make something, you want it to last, look good and feel gorgeous as you are making it. You want it to be repairable and worth repairing. The making of the thing is partly the joy of having the skill to make it, the enjoyment of the yarn sliding through your fingers, the mindfulness, the meditation (I knit so I don’t kill people) and the pleasure of having finished something. In 10 or even 20 years’ time when your garment has finally reached the end of its sensible life, it can either be recycled into another garment, used to line a hanging basket or simply be returned to the earth.
Yarn greedy! That is us. We love looking for the next new thing. But this isn’t sustainable or ethical. We have deliberately steered away from companies that change their lines frequently in favour of companies with a stable range of yarns. We have decided to maintain a “stable” of good work-horses so you know if, in a year’s time, you need an extra ball to finish your project, we will still have it. This means your tension square will hold good for the next garment. We do have indie dyers whose colourways come and go but we make this clear and it does give an excitement fix. Everyone likes to see something new in a shop. But maybe now is the time to have new ideas, to become cleverer in what and how and why we make things. We will be looking to find workshops to help you use your stash….