Craftivism

Published on November 8th, 2008 | by Julie Finn

60

Wool Comes from Sheep and I’m Cheap: Why I Craft with Acrylic

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Author's photo of a felted wool softieOh yeah, I know that wool felt is da’ bomb. It’s thicker, feels better on the skin, holds its shape better, flies around on little wings and gives you kisses when you’re feeling sad. Wool felt rocks, seriously. I admit it. Know what else I admit?

I craft with acrylic felt.

That’s right–acryclic. Made of PLASTIC! Plastic comes from the devil, you know, and yet I put it on my daughters’ felt board, I make their birthday crowns out of it, I applique it onto my holiday buntings:

My name is Julie, and I’m an acrylic felt user.

My use of acrylic felt for my work may result in a slight loss of quality over the admittedly superior quality wool felt, but I firmly believe that it is the more eco-friendly choice.

Wool, my friends, comes from sheep. As my manifesto dictates, I craft without exploitation of the world’s creatures. Unless I am confident that the sheep was humanely treated, which I am not with most commercially available wool felt, I will not use it, no matter that it might make my daughter’s felt birthday crown look slightly swankier.

Of course, organic and/or locally-produced wool felt are two viable options. If you have a local producer of wool products, perhaps one who leaves her happy farm full of sheep to come sell at your farmer’s market, or if you’re so monetarily successful that you can afford beautiful organic wool felt from online stores such as La Lana Wools, and still feed and clothe your children, you’re awesomely lucky and I totally want to be you–both those options are out of my league.

Instead, I craft with a material that is both cruelty-free and has a positive effect on our environment: I use acrylic felt made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It’s priced competitively, locally available at my regular craft store, and I’m happy with its quality. Ecospun is the brand I use, but perhaps there are others?

For projects in which acrylic felt really doesn’t hold up well, such as sewing stuffies, I use felted wool from thrifted sweaters–by the time they reach the second-hand stores, they’ve likely been partially felted in the washing machine anyway, and a second life as a child’s beloved stuffed animal is, I consider, a respectful retirement for a material that an animal had to sacrifice to produce.

For me, materials matter. What’s your take on the issue?

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • http://livegreen-savegreen.blogspot.com/ Lana

    Julie, thank you for speaking up about use of the word “retarded” as an insult. I understand Itzel’s point about political correctness. Indeed, words do not have innate meaning; they must be given meaning by people.

    I have to point out, however, that the meaning you intend to convey by using a particular word does not and cannot change the way it is perceived by others. My youngest brother is Deaf and my daughter has always been fascinated by sign language. When she was very young, she would insist on making up her own signs and became very frustrated with me for not understanding what she was trying to tell me. It took quite a while for her to grasp the concept that communication depends on the shared understanding of the meanings of symbols. Just because she meant “bath” doesn’t mean she was communicating that concept to me.

    Similarly, the assertion that an individual doesn’t intend to refer to people with intellectual disabilities when using the word “retarded” does not negate the fact that the commonly understood meaning of the word DOES refer to those with intellectual disabilities.

    Political correctness can be arbitrary and tedious, but it is only kind to be mindful of how your words may affect others and to choose words that will accurately communicate your message.

  • http://livegreen-savegreen.blogspot.com/ Lana

    Julie, thank you for speaking up about use of the word “retarded” as an insult. I understand Itzel’s point about political correctness. Indeed, words do not have innate meaning; they must be given meaning by people.

    I have to point out, however, that the meaning you intend to convey by using a particular word does not and cannot change the way it is perceived by others. My youngest brother is Deaf and my daughter has always been fascinated by sign language. When she was very young, she would insist on making up her own signs and became very frustrated with me for not understanding what she was trying to tell me. It took quite a while for her to grasp the concept that communication depends on the shared understanding of the meanings of symbols. Just because she meant “bath” doesn’t mean she was communicating that concept to me.

    Similarly, the assertion that an individual doesn’t intend to refer to people with intellectual disabilities when using the word “retarded” does not negate the fact that the commonly understood meaning of the word DOES refer to those with intellectual disabilities.

    Political correctness can be arbitrary and tedious, but it is only kind to be mindful of how your words may affect others and to choose words that will accurately communicate your message.

  • duh

    thrift store!

  • duh

    thrift store!

  • duh

    thrift store!

  • http://www.marinamiladinov.com Marina

    Hello everyone! Please for all those who still think that sheep “need” the shearing, DO visit PETA’s website or savethesheep.com and if you have any heart, you won’t have the heart ever to buy a woolen item again!
    Dear author, I was really happy to read your post! I’ve recently become interested in felting, reading things about it and planning to try it out, and then to my horror I realized that it could be done only with animal hair! Now my great dilemma is whether it is ethical to buy second-hand pullovers and recycle them? I am not so sure about it… For you would never buy old fur at the second-hand store, would you? Regardless of the fact that the poor animal is long dead and that it is terrible to know that after dying for fashion it even ended in garbage, wearing anything of the sort would not only give me a creepy and crappy feeling, but also send a wrong message to the world. The same goes for leather.
    So, my conscience has not really been appeased by the option… Still, congrats on the post and on your attitude, it was a pleasure to read it!
    Many greetings from Marina

  • http://www.marinamiladinov.com Marina

    Hello everyone! Please for all those who still think that sheep “need” the shearing, DO visit PETA’s website or savethesheep.com and if you have any heart, you won’t have the heart ever to buy a woolen item again!
    Dear author, I was really happy to read your post! I’ve recently become interested in felting, reading things about it and planning to try it out, and then to my horror I realized that it could be done only with animal hair! Now my great dilemma is whether it is ethical to buy second-hand pullovers and recycle them? I am not so sure about it… For you would never buy old fur at the second-hand store, would you? Regardless of the fact that the poor animal is long dead and that it is terrible to know that after dying for fashion it even ended in garbage, wearing anything of the sort would not only give me a creepy and crappy feeling, but also send a wrong message to the world. The same goes for leather.
    So, my conscience has not really been appeased by the option… Still, congrats on the post and on your attitude, it was a pleasure to read it!
    Many greetings from Marina

  • http://www.marinamiladinov.com Marina

    Hello everyone! Please for all those who still think that sheep “need” the shearing, DO visit PETA’s website or savethesheep.com and if you have any heart, you won’t have the heart ever to buy a woolen item again!
    Dear author, I was really happy to read your post! I’ve recently become interested in felting, reading things about it and planning to try it out, and then to my horror I realized that it could be done only with animal hair! Now my great dilemma is whether it is ethical to buy second-hand pullovers and recycle them? I am not so sure about it… For you would never buy old fur at the second-hand store, would you? Regardless of the fact that the poor animal is long dead and that it is terrible to know that after dying for fashion it even ended in garbage, wearing anything of the sort would not only give me a creepy and crappy feeling, but also send a wrong message to the world. The same goes for leather.
    So, my conscience has not really been appeased by the option… Still, congrats on the post and on your attitude, it was a pleasure to read it!
    Many greetings from Marina

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  • Diane

    There are costs and benefits to everything. Acrylic never biodegrades, and adds to our waste stream. If it comes from plastic, then it comes from petroleum, and oil exploration has polluted our waters and harmed the fish, whales, and birds who use them. The ideal solution, in my mind, is to buy locally–then you know where your product came from–but this is not always possible.

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