Day #3, Come a little bit clocher

I couldn’t resist.

This is the Sideways Grande Cloche from Laura Irwin’s Boutique Knits.  The yarn is Berroco Cuzco in Hunter Green, which is a blend of superfine alpaca and Peruvian wool.

I felt I could use this yarn because of the origin of the wool: Peru.  This is important when considering the primary argument of organizations like PETA (one I generally appreciate on the whole) to not use wool, which is that the raising and shearing of sheep for wool is a cruel and inhumane process.  The problem with this argument is that is rests on a practice called “mulesing“, which “is the surgical removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech (buttocks) of a sheep.”  It’s done to prevent flystrike, which is very gross disease where a fly lays eggs in dirty, moist, protected living tissue (like the bum of a sheep), the eggs hatch, and then the larvae tear up the poor sheep’s tissue causing sores, lesions, bacterial infections and can lead to death.  Flystrike only affects merinos in Australia, since sheep are not naturally supposed to be in the relatively warm Australian environment.

The point is, if mulesing is one’s reason for not using wool (which is completely legitimate), there are ways to guarantee your wool did not come from a mulesed sheep–basically to not buy merino wool that comes from Australia, which is what I try and do. I do want to note that I believe that vegans do not wear wool for reasons beyond this (which are also completely legitimate).  I also want to note that mulesing is being phased out in Australia by 2010, which is right around the corner (!!).

I will fully admit that I don’t actually know if the Cuzco is a good animal-friendly yarn beyond the fact that mulesing did not occur.  The proper thing to have done would be to find a small fiber farm with a good reputation.  Next time.

In any case, I did really like the yarn–soft and beautiful.  And the pattern I thought was genius and very different than any hat pattern I had used in the past.  Knit flat and seamed up the side with a fake cable–I was actually surprised when I read through the pattern.  Not at all what I would have expected.  The shape is quite interesting as well, with a flat top and long body.  It’s surprisingly flattering and functional.

Laura Irwin’s entire book is full of interesting, innovative construction.  Some are things I would never think to make with materials I wouldn’t think to use.  Yet it’s all so much simpler than I would have expected.  Full of surprise, in other words.

Ok, once again, see you tomorrow for Day #4!

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8 Responses to “Day #3, Come a little bit clocher”

  1. Bee Says:

    It looks beautiful, and so do you! Glad that you’re writing again– it’s nice to hear your “voice” (here and on G Chat)

  2. cashmerecafe Says:

    The hat looks great. And I so do understand your thoughts about origin of the wool we use, however, I think sometimes we have to be pragmatic in trying to do intentional good (i.e. if one tries to do intentional good at least we don’t do a lot of unintentional bad).

  3. Eric H Says:

    Just for the record, certainly not all wool produced in Australia is from sheep that have been mulesed. Generalising can be very dangerous if only part of the story is known, even if the intentions are good.

    • mmmona Says:

      I completely agree–I’m guessing you mean that even not all merino wool from australia comes from mulesed sheep, which I completely agree with. However I’d rather make the mistake of not purchasing something that may have been fine than purchasing something that may not have been fine.

      We run into all kinds of problems of not having the time/abilities to do our research as thoroughly as may be necessary.

  4. Mira Says:

    For local merino, romney and alpaca, have you tried Solitude Wool? They’re located close by in VA and Gretchen and Sue come to the Dupont Farmer’s Market every other week (will be there this coming Sunday, fyi). I have bought a bunch of their icelandic wool for a sweater I’m making (http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Miramouse/mosaic-yoke-jacket). It’s unbelievably soft, which is quite a feat for icelandic wool 🙂

    http://www.solitudewool.com/

    • mmmona Says:

      oh awesome–I will definitely check it out–in fact I’ll be in that part of DC for a conference on Sunday, so I can head over there on a break.
      Thanks for pointing me to it!

  5. Joe Says:

    If only you had seen a fly-blown sheep you would not be against mulesing at all

    • mmmona Says:

      I’m against animal abuse–whether that’s putting them in non-native habitats (like Australia) that then lead to horrendous diseases (like flystrike) or then devising a cruel method of keeping them from getting said diseases (like mulesing).

      In any case I imagine the ban means that a suitable alternative to mulesing has been developed and will be used.

      So it seems the point is moot–and it seems everyone gets what they want, no mulesing and no flystrike.

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