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Vegan Knitting

What do you get when you cross a love for animals with a love for knitting? Cruelty-free crafting, of course!

Knitting is the “it” hobby right now—friends everywhere are getting together to “stitch and bitch,” because it’s a fun and easy way to relieve stress. But there’s an ugly side to knitting, too—and we don’t mean your first attempt at purling. We’re talking about the cruel treatment of sheep by the wool industry.

Sheep raised for their wool all over the world are castrated and have their tails cut off—all without any painkillers—when they are only a few weeks old. Shearers are paid by volume, not by the hour, which means that they work roughly and fast, leaving animals injured or with open gashes that can become infected. Terrified sheep who don’t cooperate with the shearers are often beaten and kicked into place.

In Australia—where most of the world’s wool originates—farmers use tools similar to gardening shears to cut huge chunks of skin and flesh from lambs’ backsides, often without giving them any painkillers, in a barbaric mutilation. And each year, tens of thousands of Australian sheep who are no longer producing enough wool are crammed onto export ships to be sent to the Middle East, where they are cruelly slaughtered. Sheep who survive the terrifying voyage are dragged off trucks by their ears and legs, tied up, and beaten and have their throats slit while they are still conscious.

The good news? With all the amazing alternatives to wool available these days, there’s now a thriving community of cruelty-free crafters who are keen to enjoy knitting without hurting sheep.

You can get stitching, too, with rayon, cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo, ingeo (from corn), and soy silk as well as synthetics like acrylic, nylon, and microfiber. Most of these materials can be found at craft stores or by following the links below—there’s something perfect for every knitting need!

Finding Fibers Online
Elann
Michael’s
PurlSoho

Switch and bitch” with other compassionate crafters on the following vegan-knitting blogs and Web rings, which are just the tip of the needle:
Vegan Knitter
The World of Veganknitter
Fake Sheep

Happy knitting!

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  • nikipiratequeen says:

    I’m rather enjoying knitting with bamboo

  • nickycarp says:

    I certainly don’t want any animals hurt so that I can knit. However, amongst knitters there is also a trend against acrylic yarns because of the fossil fuels used in making them and the processes being bad for the environment. So how do I know what is “safe” or nondestructive. It starts to feel like I can’t in good conscience use almost anything, and the soy silks and such are very expensive. Just thoughts.

  • kate says:

    What about the local US farmers who are using humane practices to collect fibers? visit stitchuary.com

  • Jenn says:

    You spend 5 paragraphs telling me how horrible it is to use wool, then provide loose, vague answers on what I can use instead. FYI most of the people looking at your website have long since decided against the use of animal products and are looking for alternatives. We do not need to be constantly reminded of the atrocities committed against animals. I respect your cause, but lets keep it practical.

  • tee says:

    thanks for sharing the baaaaaaaaaaaad news about wool. just a heads-up, the links you included for vegan knitters aren’t really active blogs anymore…

  • theTastyVegan says:

    Thanks Peta for highlighting this often-overlooked aspect of a vegan lifestyle. It seems so many people’s ethics stop at food and they forget about the leather, suede, wool, etc that is so common in clothing and shoes. The sheep-farming practice of mulesing is disgusting and certainly should alert people to the need to stop using cruelty-products even in seemingly innocuous hobbies like knitting.

    Thanks for the links to the vegan knitting blogs too! They’re a real source of inspiration! I’d like to add Zellers to your list of great places to buy (really cheap) non-wool vegan yarn in Canada, and Pharmasave, weirdly, are pretty good too.

    Cheers,
    TheTastyVegan

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