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Mottle(d) Citizen
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Mottle(d) Citizen

Another quick stashbusting project – this time a very wearable pullover for at least three seasons of the year.  I made another version of this Mottled Pullover last year, and Mottled Gray Pulli while that one turned out quite well, I think I am even happier with this one.  The yarn is a better match – more drape and even mottled or “speckled-y” as I like to say – and the overall fit is better.  I think second time was a charm!

Pattern:  Rebecca 33, #26
Yarn: Rowan RYC Natural Silk Aran, color 465 (blue-gray)
Needles: Size US 9 and 10
[Ravelry Notebook page]

Modifications:  Like my first version, I made the sleeves 3/4-length, which seems better for the warmer temperatures.  I also shortened the hemline rib, favoring stockinette.  The pattern also calls a picked up neckband, which I just foundMottled Gray Pulli - Details - Neckline, Sleeves, Hemline unnecessary.  So, I left the smaller vertical rib, making the v-neck a little deeper.  As with any translated pattern, there are many times where the knitter has to “fill in the blanks” and just go on instinct.  This instinct comes from making other garments, so this sweater (and maybe others from Rebecca’s collection) would not be the ideal “first sweater” project unless there is lots of guidance! 

I bought the yarn awhile back at the LYS – it was that amazing mottled colorway that drew me right in.  Seeing it become a lovely fabric was a nice treat.   However, I have been going through a small-scale existential dilemma… after reading Maria’s amazingly well-researched Sustainability Series at Bloodroot Spins , I am feeling a conviction about using silk.   The thing is, I have quite a bit of it in my stash (usually in blends)… and I like working with it.  Sure, I knew the basics about silk production, but I was still ignorant as to exactly how things actually happened; Maria’s blog post helped educate me.  At this point, I Mottled Gray Pulli feel that using silk in my knitting does not “jive” with my code.   I am hoping that I can avoid an arrest by the vegan police… but I don’t feel the need to get rid of all my silky FOs (not this new one!) or stashed yarns… but I do feel the need to put the brakes on any new silk  purchases (ahem… just got this blend last weekend…) for the time being.  Yet, I will be evaluating the stash (and my conscience) and figuring out where I want to go from here…

I am not at the point where I want to reject use of all animal fibers (and many of my vegan peers would chastise me and say that I am in fact *not* a vegan because of this).  If that is the case, so be it.  Truth is, I love to work with wool, alpaca, mohair, angora… and I think that each of these things can be done in a sustainable and non-harming way.  (Anyone else seen the angora bunny lady at MDSW in years past?  that bunny doesn’t even feel a thing!)  Perhaps this is more ignorance on my part (or Pollyanna?) but those fibers are staying put in my stash.


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21 Responses

  1. Yarndude

    I’m not a vegan, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t still use wool as shearing a sheep doesn’t actually harm the animal. In fact, you could argue that it’s actually necessary to maintain its health!

  2. Eb

    I’m a vegetarian working on being vegan. I think it’s OK to purchase animal fibres from small places where you know the animals are being treated properly. I wouldn’t ever buy it if I couldn’t tell where it came from and how the animals were treated.

  3. Jacey

    You know what’s best for you, Lolly.

    I think your Mottled Pulli is adorable. It does look like a very wearable sweater, and the color is lovely.

  4. Lisa

    I agree with Yarndude, the shearing is necessary for the sheep’s health. And it seems to me they were put on this earth as one of the greatest gifts to Humankind. They grow their fleeces so we can harvest them and turn them into warm garments. It’s a beautiful cycle and it works.

  5. Leann

    I’m with Yarndude. Perhaps you would be better able to reconcile your code to your use of protein fibers if you got acquainted with some of the many farmers in your area who raise sheep for wool production (or alpacas, goats, etc). You would know what kind of care goes into their animals and be familiar with their sheering practices.

    I know you’re not a spinner, but that’s one of the things I’ve enjoyed most since I’ve delved deeper into spinning – talking to different farmers at the Sheep & Wool festivals and buying a (or part of a) fleece to clean, dye, card, and spin. It takes much longer to make a sweater, but it’s so cool knowing that you made the garment from sheep to sweater (or scarf, cowl, gloves, etc.) I bought a fleece from a sheep named “Posie” at MDSW and I can’t wait to see what I can make with it!

    And if you’re *really* not interested in getting into spinning, there are many farms who have their fleeces processed and spun into yarn and you would get the same effect.

  6. Melissa A.

    Labels can be a bit awkward sometimes. You do what you do for you, and it doesn’t matter what others think. My 2 cents :)

  7. emily

    I love it! So simply, yet very attractive : ) I agree with your choice to leave the neck alone and keep the little ribbing…too much up there and it would start looking more like a winter sweater.

  8. Wendolene

    I love both of your versions of this sweater! Good to know about the Rebecca patterns…
    The beauty of of the fiber world is there are so many yarns out there, one can limit her or his purchases according to her or his own vegan/sustainable/organic principles and still have many, many options to choose from!

  9. Lauren

    First, I like the sweater! I’m personally not a deep V neck person but it looks good on you!!! And the yarn is fun… the mottling… its almost tweedy in a way! About the whole vegan thing, I don’t think it’s so important to cram yourself into a specific “category”… I say come up with what standards you want to live your life by, stick with it, and ignore the fact that you might not be a “perfect” so-and-so group member!!!! :-) I wonder if there are any sort of “non cruel” silk production places? Hmm!

  10. Leslie

    As I commented on Ravelry, I love it. Having also knit this sweater (thanks to inspiration from your first version), I can agree that, for a simple design, the pattern was trickier than it needed to be. (I actually posted about that here: http://morewithles.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/thoughts-on-a-nearly-fo-plus-some-new-yarns/) I do agree, as you know, about the neckband. Perhaps my only complaint is that the v-neck is slightly too wide so you really have to wear just the right shirt underneath.

  11. Josiane

    Your sweater looks great, and the fit is perfect!
    As for the use of animal fibers, I’m pretty much where you are on that topic: still using them, in a mindful way. This may change over time, but this is where I am right now.

  12. elizabeth

    No, no, I think you’re right. There was an op/ed in the NYT awhile back about veganism and the author renounced use of wool and other protein fibers and I sent him an email asking why. He responded and while I understand his reasons, I think the practices he complains of, and that form the basis of his rejection of animal fibers, occur mostly in the production of large scale yarn manufacturers. Not saying that I don’t have plenty of big name yarn in my stash, but I do feel that the fiber/yarn I purchase at fiber festivals and from my local shepherdess are 99% cruelty-free and to be honest, those are the fibers I most enjoy working with!

    I love that sweater. I need to knit a couple of those to get me through the summer!

  13. Rphilbeck

    I love your sweater. Color and fit is perfect!! Great job as always!!

  14. Nanette

    Your sweater looks lovely on you!

    I know what you mean – I eat vegan but I knit with wool so I guess I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy or eggs. :)

  15. Christabel

    Well, ‘dietary vegan’ would cover it, but I think being thoughtful and conscious of your choices is much more important than whichever label people want to put on it.
    Love the sweater!

  16. Hilary

    That’s adorable! Love the deep V and that color is just lovely on you.

  17. bonnie/AmpuTeeHee

    I remember when I learned about the silk worm myself. I will never forget it. I had been dating my boyfriend for almost a year when I bought yarn to knit him a scarf. He’s very non-activist about his vegetarianism, but I did at least notice that he didn’t wear or use any leather products. Anyhow, I came home with the yarn that day all excited to be knitting my first item for him, and I IM’d him that I had bought this lovely wool-silk blend and wanted to knit him something gorgeous and keep him warm, and then *blammo!*…across the IM screen was his response to me. It was like 4 or 5 links to articles about silk production and the boiling etc. Quite frankly, I had always assumed the worm popped out like a beautifully transformed creature, and the silk was just reeled. It did not even occur to me to think beyonds that.
    Thank goodness the LYS had a decent return policy…and when I told them why I was returning it, and how silk is produced, THEY DIDN’T KNOW EITHER. I’m so glad the word is getting out :-)
    That being said. I still have silk in my stash, and I still buy silk. Just not so much. I just throw myself at the cashmere more LOL. Well that, and I’m finding other fibers that give a bit of sheen, which I think is mostly what I love about silk blends.
    I have found a couple of yarn manufacturers that came to produce “vegan friendly” silk, btw.
    PS…love the sweater :-)

  18. Chandler

    As someone who firmly believes that a system that includes responsibly-managed animal products is more sustainable (and humane; like the commenter about said about sheep needing to be sheared!) than one that involves synthetics, I totally applaud your decision to stick with animal fibers. Wool animals and sericulture have been around for thousands of years, and we have spent generations breeding these animals so that they are just as dependent on us as we are on them. I really think that it’s no longer simply an issue of putting a halt to wool or silk production (and hey, do we really need more dependence on fossil fuels for acrylic yarn?)—for better or worse, those animals are part of the ecosystem now, and I think the best thing we can do is vote responsibly with our wallets.

    Okay, I’m putting the soapbox away! The sweater is lovely, and the color looks fantastic on you!

  19. Kay

    Lots of posts from lots of people encouraging your use of sustainable, kind, animal fibers…and I agree, I just wanted to note from a rabbit owners perspective, if we DONT pick the rabbit up and pluck her from tip to tail once a month (bags full of it!) she is miserable. Plucking her fur isn’t comfortable for her because she doesn’t like being picked up, but then i never been a fan of the tooth cleaning, and it’s necessary for me :)

  20. gina

    Hi Lauren,
    i’m new to your site. I have to say that as a vegan knitter, I’ve had the same dilemma with using animal fibers for my projects. (To the people wondering about the wool dilemma – If you’re really curious about why most vegans don’t use/wear animal fibers, there is a lot of info online. I won’t go into it here b/c it’s not my forum).
    While I have chosen not to use wool or silk, I respect (and actually really happy) that you are open and honest about your decision.

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