Wool is one of nature’s superstar fibers. It’s warm, moisture-wicking, odor resistant, anti-microbial, and when produced under the right circumstances, deliciously soft and cozy. It’s also one of the most biodegradable materials, decomposing within six months in ideal conditions.
But for those of us concerned with animal welfare, choosing to buy wool involves significant ethical considerations. Personally, wool is one of my favorite fibers to wear, and as someone trying to be a more ethical knitter and consumer, the welfare of the sheep from where my wool is sourced is top of mind for me.
That’s why I’m thrilled to partner with Myssyfarmi, a small-scale wool goods farm in Finland, to talk about this issue close to my heart!
Can wool ever be cruelty-free and ethical, and how do we make more compassionate buying decisions when it comes to woolen goods? Let’s find out!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Myssyfarmi. I only partner with brands that meet my criteria for sustainability and ethics, and that I am excited about! Thank you for supporting the brands that support Restitchstance.
What are the animal welfare issues involved in wool production?
- Mulesing: Farmers may cut off excess skin at the buttocks to prevent flies from laying eggs there…but this is often done without anesthesia or painkillers. This is more common with merino sheep.
- Export: Sheep may be exported overseas via journeys that take weeks, during which many sheep fall ill or die.
- Painful shearing: Hasty shearing can cause painful injuries to the sheep. This can happen in large-scale wool farming where the shearers are paid by the volume of wool they produce.
How can we buy cruelty-free wool?
Contrary to what PETA says (don’t even get me started on PETA), I don’t think that swearing off animal fibers like wool is the best path to a cruelty-free world.
Wool not only performs incredibly well as an insulating, odor-resistant material, but it’s also natural and biodegradable. Giving up wool in exchange for synthetic materials is ultimately worse for the environment due to the toxins released by synthetics, and I would rather support brands and farmers making the industry better than boycott wool altogether.
I think we should do our best to support brands that use cruelty-free and ethical wool, or buy secondhand or recycled wool.
Look for these things when buying ethical and cruelty-free wool:
- Traceable supply chain: Brand should know where their wool is coming from. If there is no information on the website, don’t be afraid to e-mail and ask.
- Transparency: Look for brands and suppliers that aren’t afraid to provide information about their sheep! The more information they have on their website or give you when you ask, the less they have to hide.
- Certifications and organic farms: Look for certifications such as ZQ which ensure a standard of humane treatment for the sheep, or organic farms which don’t practice mulesing, use toxic chemicals, or shear their sheep in stressful or harmful conditions while keeping their sheep in bigger stalls or open pastures as opposed to the cramped conditions of many non-organic farms.
Myssyfarmi: High quality wool knits from happy sheep!
Speaking of cruelty-free wool, I’m proud to partner with Myssyfarmi to share their story!
Myssyfarmi is an idyllic slow fashion dream: The Finnish farm cares for eight of their own sheep, which are more pets than livestock, and sources the rest of their wool from a partner organic and cruelty-free farm, which is right next door. The wool from their happy sheep is spun into yarn and then hand-knit into cozy, warm hats (called Myssys) and scarves by the “grannies” who work on the farm.
From sourcing the wool, spinning it into yarn, dyeing the yarn, to knitting the hats, the entire process is traceable—a rarity in fashion, even ethical and sustainable fashion!
(Side note: I don’t know about you, but being a granny on that farm sounds like my dream retirement gig.)
The Myssy wool difference: Cruelty- and itch-free
The Myssyfarmi team assured me that their sheep are cared for with love and don’t suffer through cruel practices such as mulesing. Because their wool is sourced directly from their own sheep and their trusted organic partner farm, which they regularly visit and is located right next door, there’s no doubt that their wool is cruelty-free.
Their wool is processed in a way that preserves the wool’s natural lanolin, preventing the wool from being itchy. The yarn is hand-dyed using natural dyes and no chemicals are used.
I designed my own Myssy using their new interactive feature. It was super easy and fun. After submitting my design, the hat took a couple weeks to arrive (hand-knits and slow fashion takes time, but it’s well worth the wait). The hat arrived in an adorable carton with a cartoon illustrating how a Myssy is made, and a tag telling me that Soili was the granny who knit my hat. Thanks Soili!
I’m so happy with my Myssy! It’s not only adorable and pretty stylish (yes, I am complimenting my own design), but it also keeps my head and my ears cozily warm. I took my Myssy on a hike last weekend and boy was I glad I did, because it kept my ears from freezing off in the cold morning.
Best of all, I know that every point along the supply chain is accounted for, and I know that my new cozy hat was made with wool from happy sheep, and with love and care for the environment.
If you would like to snag your own cozy, cruelty-free head topper, you can use code “restitchstance20” for 20% off until October 28, 2018!
GIVEAWAY: One of you lucky readers could win the opportunity to design your own Myssy, too! Head over to my Instagram to enter to win.
What I’m wearing:
Hat: Designed by yours truly, from Myssyfarmi
Sweater: bought secondhand from Poshmark (really happy with this vintage mohair find!)
Leggings: Girlfriend Collective high-rise compressive leggings (review)