Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Surviving and thriving by supporting others.

As many of my clients know I am a keen knitter. A very keen knitter, totally obsessed with wool. I like to know the provenance of my yarn, that it has been produced sustainably from animals that are well treated; much of my wool comes from small organic farms or sheep used for conservation grazing. I also seek out yarn with low mileage, produced from sheep to mill in the UK - sometimes entirely in Yorkshire. It is often difficult to find this information and I often buy directly from the small farm or croft that raised the sheep. Another place I can find it is from small independent yarn shops that share my ethics. Already vulnerable to high street pressures, all of these yarn shops had to close their doors during the lockdowns and due to their small size remain closed or use an appointment only system when lockdowns were lifted. Online sales continued but what else could they do during such a stressful time? Seven of them got together to form a group where they could share ideas and expertise, organise online events for the knitting community and generally support each other, iKnit7. Their different strengths enabled them to come up with a new website and raise their profile on social media, and they have run week long events featuring interesting interviews with designers and producers as well as promotional offers and competitions. As well as supporting each other and sharing their customer base, they have engaged and supported the knitting community by lifting our spirits. 

When I left BresMed my lovely colleagues gave me a generous gift in the form of vouchers for one of the iKnit7 yarn shops that I like to visit when I am in London so that I can indulge myself in my favourite yarns and other wool related purchases. My first purchase (online due to the pandemic restrictions) was some skeins of Dile from Uist Wool, a very special yarn I had been longing to knit a jumper with but was out of my price range until I received my vouchers. Uist Wool is a community project that takes in wool from local crofts and spins beautiful yarns using antique machinery that they salvaged and restored. I used it to knit the pattern Sian written by an independent designer who was inspired by her visit to Uist. I love my jumper; not only is it a beautiful pattern that evokes a landscape I love, making it has supported three other small businesses: the yarn shop, the designer and the wool mill - not to mention indirectly supporting the crofters the mill buys the fleeces from. Now my jumper is finished I have the fun of deciding what to buy next with my vouchers!

Together we thrive!

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