Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Darn Good Fun - Crocheting with Non-Traditional Fiber Choices

I try really hard to be socially conscious in choosing what to buy. For good or for ill, money is a powerful influence in shaping our world.  It's not always possible, but I try to think about the part my consumer choices play in that world-building process, no matter how minute.  For example, I purchase my meat from a Michigan family farm, Creswick Farms, that utilizes sustainable and humane farming practices.  I buy my milk from a local dairy farm, Calder Dairy, where the cows are humanely treated and do not receive hormones and antibiotics. I purchase Fair Trade certified coffee, tea, and chocolate because it is important to me that the people raising and processing these crops receive fair compensation and that the crops are grown in a manner that does not damage the environment.

A few months ago, it came to my attention that perhaps I could also be more socially conscious in my fiber choices and have the opportunity to use some gorgeous and unique materials at the same time. I learned about a yarn company called Darn Good Yarn run by Nicole Snow, a US Air Force Veteran. A fiber enthusiast, she started the company in 2008 with the goal of providing "phenomenal quality fibers to enthusiasts, while helping the women of Nepal and India become autonomous and self-reliant". As their website explains, "[t]he women who work for [Darn Good Yarn] are hand-selected for their skill and given a wage that not only allows them to survive, but thrive. This affects the rest of their family as well. Their children can stay in school and get an education."

Another plus to purchasing fiber from Darn Good Yarn is that it is eco-friendly.  Many of the fibers are recycled.  For example, the reclaimed and recycled sari silk ribbon yarn is made from sari silk fabric remnants collected during the trimming and truing portion of the manufacturing process. They also have very cool banana fiber yarn that is made from sustainable fibers scraped from the bark of banana trees.

Some of the DGY yarns I have purchased but have not had the fun of working with ... yet.
I purchased a couple of Darn Good Yarn yarns and I liked them so much, that I decided to sign up for their  monthly yarn box subscription (which provides a surprise selection of fibers each month at a great price).  I have to tell you, I LOVE this stuff!  The colors and textures are just a lot of fun to experiment and work with, and the finished pieces are truly unique.  It is not fiber for the timid, or those who are going for a really smooth, polished look in their finished work.  If, however, you are ready to try something bold and different, and you enjoy creating pieces that are just a bit more primitive and textural, you will take great delight in what Darn Good Yarn has to offer.

Here are some photos of some of the pieces I've crocheted using Darn Good Yarn fibers.  I wish I had taken photos of a few of the others before I placed them in shops,  At least these will give you an idea of some of the endless possibilities for creating with this stuff!

A collar-type scarf I made using DGY's premium recycled 100% mulberry sari silk

A cowl I crocheted using DGY recycled silk chiffon ribbon yarn.

A flower I crocheted using recycled "firecracker" sari silk from DGY combined with crochet cotton.
Center is crocheted wire and beads.

Just in case you are wondering, Darn Good Yarn was not aware that I was creating this post, and I did not receive incentives or compensation of any kind from them to create this post or use their products.  I just really like their fiber and I love what they do, so I wanted to let you know about them.

PS:  Later on the same day I made this post, I finished another piece crocheted from a "non-traditional" fiber.  This flower brooch uses Premier Yarn's Raffia (made of 100% Cellulose Rayon).  It has a straw-like, papery texture, but seems quite strong.  Because of the larger size of this flower (about 5 inches across), I added some wire crochet to give the flower more structure -- make it less floppy.

Flower brooch crocheted using Premier Yarn's Raffia

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