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Searching for Laceweight

You may have noticed for a while now that I haven’t had much laceweight yarn available. As I’ve had a few requests for it lately I thought I would explain what’s going on.

The laceweight yarn I currently stock is lovely, but it’s a bit woolly and on the heavier end of laceweight. I’m searching for something in the range of 800m per 100g which is fairly smooth and soft with some drape. I used to stock a gorgeous 100% British Bluefaced Leicester laceweight that was perfect, but it’s not available any more.

I’ve searched everywhere I can think of for laceweight yarn that fits the Bluebell Yarns values-British or Falkland, non-superwash and synthetic free.

I can find:

  • 100% British wool, but it’s superwash treated;
  • 100% British wool, but it’s from small batches and small producers, meaning I’d have to charge at least £30 a skein;
  • British wool blended with silk. I was going to opt for this until I did some research on silk which I’ll elaborate on below;
  • Non-superwash wool spun in the UK, but from fibres sourced from outside the UK;
  • and lots of fibres of unknown origin which look beautiful, but I’m not willing to stock them if I don’t know how they were produced.

I will always be on the lookout for the perfect laceweight yarn, but if you ever come across something you think may fit, please let me know!

My problem with silk

Disclaimer: These are my views and, like if you use yarn that doesn’t fit the Bluebell Yarns values, I will not judge you if you choose to use silk.*

There’s no denying that silk is a beautiful fibre. It’s warm for its weight, biodegradable and strong. However the more I research about it, the more problems I become aware of.

My problem with silk is multi-layered. Most of us are aware of how silk is produced at the basic level. Mulberry silk comes from the cocoons of the silk worm, and they are killed in the process. Even so called “peace silk” where the moths are allowed to emerge isn’t as nice as it sounds. The moths can’t eat or fly so die fairly quickly anyway. Tussah silk is created in a similar way although generally the moths are wild or farmed in a more natural way. They are still able to fly and live a more natural life. I was considering Tussah silk for a while.

Mulberry silk is farmed. To produce each kilogram of silk requires over 100kg of mulberry leaves for the silkworms to eat. When you scale that up to the huge quantities of silk demanded, that’s a lot of land, water and other resources to create a luxury fabric. It’s not good, but it’s still not my main issue.

My main problem with silk is where and how it is created. The majority comes from China and India. While there are undoubtedly some farms which treat their workers fairly it’s no secret that forced labour and atrocious working conditions are common in these countries. You can find silk fabric produced fairly and under good conditions, however nowhere I’ve found that blends silk into their yarns states which country their silk is from, let alone whether it has been produced fairly. If that changes, I will be happy to reconsider.

*Choosing yarn to sell as a business is very different from choosing a few skeins for a project. While as consumers we can make a small difference to the world we live in, businesses have the majority of the power. As a small business Bluebell Yarns is only a drop in the ocean, but change has to start somewhere.

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