Improvement, Not Perfection

Happy New Year everyone! Something significant happened for me this New Years Eve. My wife and I were at a friend’s house celebrating the start of a new year with our core group of friends we call our Portland Family.

This is a group of four couples, primarily, although a few other friends join on occasion. Last NYE was spent with this same amazing group of people. At some point in those first weeks of 2015, we all attempted to do vision boards of how we wanted our year to go. I cut out several photos, phrases and words but never ended up doing anything with them because in my perfectionist mind, if the photo or phrase isn’t exactly what I want then what’s the point?

This year we talked about doing another vision board and I confessed I never finished mine from last year. When my friend, Rich, asked me why I never finished, I explained about my perfectionism and not feeling like it was worth doing if it wasn’t perfect. What he said next shifted things for me and affected several aspects of my life. He said something to the effect of, “It’s better to strive for Improvement because things will never be perfect. If you are always striving for Perfection, you will always Fail.” Wow…it hit me right in the gut…he was so right! Why am I always trying to be perfect at everything? I know I’m not perfect, so when I see myself slipping away from perfection I tend to hide and shame myself. Not a healthy cycle for anyone.

I have realized that I have done the same thing with this blog even though it has barely begun. I am in search of ethical and cruelty-free knitting materials but I have to be honest that I bought 6 skeins of wool yarn for a sweater just before starting this blog and I relied on what the owner of my LYS (local yarn store) told me about the company instead of contacting them myself to be sure of their practices before purchasing.

I’ve felt like a hypocrite and haven’t wanted to post anything from that project here because I can’t vouch for the yarn I’m using. And then I did it again! I went to another LYS and asked them about some Alpaca yarn for a hat I wanted to remake after losing the first one I made. The sales person claimed they only carry ethical, cruelty-free yarn. This made me super excited and I bought the yarn. I trusted what she said and I’m hoping to get an interview with either the owner or the buyer of that store because if it’s true that they don’t buy cruel yarn, I want to spread the word!

Full disclosure again, even though I am trusting the sales associate’s word, I didn’t do my own research and haven’t posted about my project due to being scared of showing any imperfection in my quest. But who is perfect?? As I’ve clearly shown, I’m not, even though it’s hard to swallow. 😉 But with my friend Rich’s words, I have felt some release in understanding I’m on my journey and every day I can make choices that bring me closer to my end goals.

Right now, I don’t know without a doubt what yarns are cruelty-free but I want to find out for all of us and I want to share what I learn and experience with you all.

This is reality…no one is perfect. We are all on our own unique journey. This is my story, my journey and I’m going to start being more open about my shortcomings and my triumphs. I hope you can be patient with me as I am trying to be patient with myself.

I have been waking up each day this year and telling myself, “Strive for Improvement, not Perfection!”

Thank you so much for allowing my candor. I hope to get real and meaningful conversations started here on this blog soon.

Have a spectacular Friday and a fantastic weekend! Here is a picture of me exhausted but with a finished hat done in alpaca before blocking with the YOTH Father Cables hat pattern. I’ll try to get a better photo to show the amazing cables in this design. 

Can you be vegan and use wool?

In short: I think so!

This is quite a question though.  One that I personally have struggled with and am only now fully exploring. There is a lot I do not know about how yarn is sourced and produced; there are so many steps and people involved. I am interested in all of these steps and processes but I find the two questions that are the most important for me at this moment are: Were any animals harmed in any way and was the yarn produced in a mindful and environmentally sustainable way?

But, the question of this post is can you be vegan and still use yarn made of fiber derived from animals? And the answer, for me, depends on who made the yarn. From the little I know at this point and from common sense, I know it IS POSSIBLE to collect the fiber from the animals without harming them and turning that fiber into yarn. But we do know that there are so many companies out there that treat their animals horribly and do cruel and inhumane procedures such as mulesing or moving the animals so quickly through the sheering process they get several severe gashes cut into them. It’s horrible to think about and I think most people, whether they are vegan or not, wouldn’t feel good about those practices.

I want to know that I am supporting companies that care. This is why I  started this blog. I’m going to talk to people in the industry and in the community to find out as much information as possible about the methods and procedures used from start to finish in preparing cruelty-free, ethically sourced, sustainable yarn. I’m going to make sure I’m using my money to support people and business that I know care about their impact on the environment and the animals they are sourcing their fiber from.

Stay connected so I can let you know when those interviews post and as I can start endorsing yarns. I have a lot of topics I want to cover and can’t wait to share them with you. 🙂

 

Thank you for your interest. I’d love to hear from you. What topics do you want me to cover, what questions do you want answered? Leave your comments and questions below.

 

 

Introductions

Who am I?

My name is Tatiana and I live in Portland, Oregon with my wife and two cat children. I am an abstract painter and lover of knitting and fiber arts. I love to travel, go see live music, read young adult fiction novels, and watch romantic comedies. I completely nerd out and spend days researching a topic when it peaks my interest. I am excited about the slow fashion movement, capsule wardrobes and supporting companies that care about ethically sourced material and sustainability. My goal is to completely replace my wardrobe with pieces I’ve made or bought from small companies that I believe in.

How did I get into knitting?

I have been crocheting since my freshman year in college (2000) and my mom tried to teach me how to knit when I was really young but I just remember getting frustrated and that the metal needle points hurt my fingers. It wasn’t until I was in art school that I rediscovered knitting and fell deeply in love.

I guess you can say I was your typical art student who never wanted to stay within the box of an assignment. I was very lucky to have amazing teachers that nourished my creativity and allowed me to work outside of the constraints of the given assignment as long as it was relevant to what they were assigning. For my advanced drawing class, we were given the assignment to draw a landscape of some kind. I am an abstract painter and even though I can draw better than stick figures, I don’t really care to draw but I loved my teacher.

My wife, then fiancé, and I were planning our honeymoon to the West County of Ireland at the time of this assignment and I had just been researching the Aran Islands. The idea sprang to life that I wanted to try to knit a type of topographical replica of the island made out of layers of knitted swatches in the shape of the island using typical knit patterns used for traditional sweaters the island is known for. {That was a mouthful and a lot of cables!}

Needless to say, I quickly discovered my grand idea was a little more complicated than I expected and would take a lot longer than the time allowed for the assignment. I did complete the assignment, not to my standards but still got a descent grade and more importantly got hooked onto knitting and fiber arts.

What can you expect from this blog?

You can look forward to reviews of humanely and ethically sourced yarn; interviews of farmers, spinners, dyers, designers, store owners, knitters, makers and general fiber enthusiasts; as well as my own personal explorations and creations in the world of fiber.

Why did I create this blog?

There are a few reasons I created this blog.

  1. I love seeing so many people moving in the direction of sustainability, intentionality and ethically sourced materials. I want to hear from these people and share their stories and reasons here.
  2. As a vegan, I have struggled with the possible and blatant judgment from others of using animal fiber even if it is being ethically sourced. I hope to have conversations here that help dispel that stigma.
  3. I want to have conversations with those working directly with the animals on what their practices are, how they ensure no harm comes to the animals from the process of gathering their fur, and what “cruelty-free” and “sustainability” mean to them in their business.
  4. I want to be able to test and provide information and reviews of the various cruelty-free and ethically sourced yarn and tools/notions available.
  5. I want to have conversations with people in the knitting/fiber art community to see what’s important to them when choosing whom they follow on social media, work with and endorse.
  6. And finally, I want to create this opportunity to learn more about various fibers, knitting techniques, yarn production and to get to make more friends in this amazing community!

 

I hope you enjoy the content and participate in the conversation! If you have more questions for me, put them in the comments and I’ll do another post answering them. 🙂