The Slow Movement has taken off in recent years. Many people know the term because they are interested in slow food (as opposed to fast food). However, there are also trends in slow gardening, slow travel, slow fashion and slow art. And I would argue that there is a trend towards Slow Yarn despite the fact that not many crafters are using the term.
Understanding the Slow Movement
The Slow Movement is, as the name suggests, an intentional shift towards living a slower paced life but it is about far more than just simplifying life and reducing fast-paced processes. The slow movement is about sustainability, supporting a local economy and engaging more hands-on in all areas of a craft. So for example, the slow food movement encompasses buying from local organic farmers as well as growing, preparing and preserving your own foods.
So What is Slow Yarn?
When it comes to yarn, the slow movement can encompass many different things. Knitters and crocheters are already participating in a slow yarn way of life since they are choosing to hand create items, including clothing and home furnishings, rather than buying them factory-made. But those yarn crafters who want to go further into the slow yarn movement can do so at many different levels from raising their own fiber to spinning their own yarn.
Elements of a Slow Yarn Lifestyle:
- Choosing carefully sourced yarn. A responsible approach to yarn crafts includes making careful choices in the type of yarn that is purchased and where it is bought. Slow yarn supporters choose sustainable yarn, usually from independent sellers. There is a big emphasis on buying locally at fiber festivals but some people consider “local” to refer to purchases from their home country and maybe through indie yarn sellers online. The book Knit Local by Tanis Gray is a great resource for people interested in the history and business philosophies of local yarn sellers.
- Growing your own fiber to create your own yarn. Even slower than buying yarn responsibly is making your own yarn. This can mean starting a small fiber farm with animals like sheep and alpacas or growing your own plants to process into yarn. You can then spin the fiber into yarn and use the yarn in your crafts.
- Using recycled yarn materials. Recycling and upcycling are certainly also part of the slow yarn movement. You can make yarn out of plastic bags, old T-shirts and sheets and even bicycle tire tubes.
- Home-based yarn dyeing. The slow movement breaks down the process of a craft and encourages the crafter to participate in each step. Instead of buying a pre-dyed yarn, the crafter may dye yarn at home. A truly committed slow yarn crafter would grow her own herbs and use them as a natural dye base.
Benefits of a Slow Yarn Movement
Here are some of the reasons that people choose to join the Slow Yarn Movement:
- Supporting the local community. People who buy locally are helping to lend support to the other indie crafters in their area. This is good for the local economy, enhances options for people to live creatively and builds stronger ties with others.
- Meditative qualities. Taking the time to slow down and participate in each part of the process allows the crafter to enjoy more of the “in the moment” wonder of crafting.
- Eco-conscious lifestyle. The slow yarn movement emphasizes eco-friendly practices and habits from reduced transportation when buying local yarns to increased use of repurposed materials in upcycling.
- It’s fun! If you already love to knit or crochet then your whole experience of crafting can be enhanced when you also learn to dye or spin your own fiber.
Slow Yarn is really about being engaged in each step of the crochet process, celebrating all aspects of the craft, looking towards an earth-friendly, life-friendly approach to your crafting. Meditative and mindful crochet is also a key part of this, helping you to "be here now" in the craft and to get more in touch with yourself, which inevitably leads to a better connection to the world around you.