Yarn leading to a happy ending

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Lee Scott... “We were finding it hard to find ethical, sustainable yarn that wasn’t made in a country with poor employment methods.” Photo by Andrew Finch
Lee Scott… “We were finding it hard to find ethical, sustainable yarn that wasn’t made in a country with poor employment methods.” Photo by Andrew Finch

AN online store selling ethically produced yarn has been set up by knitters and mother/daughter team Lee Scott and Stephanie Hamilton.

Lee, who teaches knitting classes at CIT, says she and Stephanie started Alt Yarn to source ethically produced yarn to sell in Australia.

“Stephanie and I have always had an interest in sustainability and building communities through educating women,” she says.

“We were finding it hard to find ethical, sustainable yarn that wasn’t made in a country with poor employment methods.

“We care about climate change and our carbon footprint, and with yarn it was hard to find out the chain of production.”

Lee says that she and Stephanie have done the research to ensure their products are sourced from ethical, eco-friendly and fair suppliers.

“A fair wage is so important and so we try to support local initiatives that empower women in remote regions of Tibet, Afghanistan and Uruguay,” she says.

Brands stocked by Alt Yarn include From The Mountain, which is a cashmere from Afghanistan and The Rocking Yak, a Tibetan yak down. They also have a range of NZ yarns, Misti Alpaca from Peru and yarn from Manos del Uruguay, a brand group of co-ops that provide jobs for women in Uruguay.

Lee says she taught Stephanie how to knit, just as she learned from her grandmother years ago.

“My mum and aunt also had a good tradition in crafting, and did sample knitting for Villawool in their late teens,” she says.

“I think all mums teach knitting to their children, or would do if they knew how. Now that knitting has become popular again it’s great and it’s less traditional now, people are making crazy stuff and sharing on social media.”

National operations manager at Museums Australia, Lee says knitting for her is calming, like a repetitive mindful meditation that clears the mind.

“It’s also useful – it makes things, it’s not just leisure, it’s productive. And I love working with luscious products making beautiful things,” she says.

With an interest in advanced knitting, Lee says she would like to one day hold specialty knitting classes.

“I like to push myself to try new things and techniques, and try to analyse how the stitches are made. I do a bit of design work too, and I love teaching it to others,” she says.

“We have found that other people share the same beliefs as us and want to craft with gorgeous, ethically produced goods.

“We’ve got a way to go to get it out there but our hope is that Alt Yarn will build a community in Canberra and become a place where crafters can meet, learn and socialise.”

Alt Yarn will be exhibiting at the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair at EPIC on August 11-14, 10-4.30pm. They will be doing Make & Take workshops, dye your own and selling beautiful soft yarn. More information craftfair.com.au/wp/Canberra/ or altyarn.com


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Kathryn Vukovljak
Kathryn Vukovljak is a "CityNews" journalist with a particular interest in homes and gardens.

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