Monday, 21 December 2015

Vegan Yarn Store

It was about this time of year back in the early 80's when I would be looking forward to getting a new Christmas jumper.  I'm not talking about the ridiculous red and green Christmas themed atrocities that in some inexplicable way unbeknown to me seem to have become so trendy and cool to wear these days (or am I just bah humbug?).  No, I'm talking about the hand knitted wonders that my grandmother used to lovingly make for me.  Every year I would be measured to keep up with my youthful growing spurts.  Then I would discuss the style and colour I would like.  It usually involved different shades of green and brown (I was an earthy kid even back then), and often long and baggy as that is the way I liked them.  The finished article would be presented to me on Christmas day and worn straight away.  Some of those jumpers lasted for years and saw me into my early vegan years too as, given the personal connection I had with them, I couldn't bear to part with them until they had completely worn out.

My grandmother tried to teach me how to knit but my youthful impatience never led me to listen or practice enough to be able to make anything useful.  Then once I became vegan wool was obviously not something I took an interest in anymore.  My grandmother's knitting needles fell silent.  If only the Vegan Yarn Store had been around then or if only my grandmother was still around to knit her wonders.  I'm sure I would be putting in several orders per year and her knitting needles would be working so fast they'd catch fire!

The Vegan Yarn Store is not far off its first anniversary and was created by Oxford based vegan crafter Kelly Ryan.  She quite rightly identified a huge gap in the market when she was unable to find materials for knitting or crocheting that didn't involved animal products.  I met Kelly from the Vegan Yarn Store at the Cornwall Vegan Festival recently.  She had her stall next to mine and the colourful array and diverse range of yarns and products on display that day got me thinking about my grandmother and her jumpers again.  Imagine being able to have a handmade jumper of your choosing from either bamboo, hemp or banana (a few of the many vegan choices out there now)? The banana yarn incidentally (with images of mashed banana I was intrigued to know this) is actually made by scraping the bark from banana trees.

I must admit that my interest in knitting was piqued a little after seeing Kelly's stall.  Realistically I know I won't start knitting masterpieces as, after all, I have a million other tasks and interests lined up that I barely have enough time for (cue dusting off that guitar again!).  However, the idea of being able to make your own clothes is such a sustainable dream and one that has been lost in the ether of modern day living.  Everybody used to do it but very few people do now and with concerns for sustainability, fair trade and sweatshop labour playing on people's minds, isn't it about time that this skill returned as a normal way of life rather than just a hobby?  It's a lovely thought and, with vegans being at the forefront of such concerns, Kelly may well have hit upon the right market in more ways than one.  Vegans are forerunners on many different levels and, who knows, it might not be too long before we see my granny's jumper designs being paraded on the catwalk as the new trend of vegan sustainable jumpers sweeps the fashionista public.  

Failing that, does anyone have a granny I can borrow please?  Some of those colours are just amazing and I'd love a big sloppy striped jumper right now.

Check out Kelly's range of products on the Vegan Yarn Store website, interesting insights on her blog, or keep up to date with the latest on the Facebook page.

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