Published by PETA Staff.

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 Vegan 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

Check Out More Vegan Textile Art Supplies