The slow yarn movement is one aspect of slow crafting. I wrote last week about the slow living movement and the role of craft in that movement. Today delves more deeply into that aspect of the fiber arts.
What is the Slow Yarn Movement?
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, slow schooling, and slow art. Furthermore, 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 even 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. Anything that you can turn into string can be used for knitting, crochet, and weaving.
- 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 general 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.
- 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.
Here are some specific mental health benefits of the slow yarn movement:
- 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. It’s perfect for a more mindful way of life, which in turn offers many benefits.
- Relaxation benefits. In addition to mindfulness, slow crafting is relaxing. It reduces stress, which helps reduce the symptoms of almost all mental health conditions.
- Feelings of purpose. In her book The Power of Meaning, Emily Esfahani Smith makes a good argument for the fact that more than happiness, people need purpose. The slowed-down approach to crafting helps yarn crafters reflect on its purpose. This can add meaning to life, which is an overlooked but critical part of mental health.