Birkin Bags, Ethics, and Holidays

This blog post was going to be about the two weeks I recently had off work.  As you probably know I had a couple of weeks off and we had some long weekends away and it was blissful, really enjoyed it.  I do have some photos to share with you, and will do that at the end of this post.

But something happened yesterday which made me think a lot.  You may have seen in the media that Jane Birkin has asked Hermes to take her name off her famous bag, as she is concerned that methods used to make crocodile bags are unethical and cruel.  Hermes are investigating whether the standards they ask their suppliers to meet are being met or have been breached.

This touched a cord with me, as I read a report a few years ago about how angora wool is harvested from angora rabbits.  It really sickened me (you can read this report from the Guardian here, but please be warned, it is graphic and stomach churning http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/dec/16/angora-production-ethical-peta-video-chinese-rabbits) and I decided at that moment to never use angora wool.  I would rather lose sales than use this yarn.  I couldn’t sit here and knit knowing that somewhere some rabbits had suffered to provide me with their wool.

This may sound overly emotional, but just like Jane Birkin didn’t want her name associated with cruelty, for me it was a clear decision.  Some angora farmers may use ethical methods – like the one mentioned in the article – but I won’t be using it unless I can guarantee that, and really the only way would be to have my own rabbits which isn’t practical!  What do you think?  Could you knit with or wear an item knowing that an animal suffered so that you could have it?

A nice alternative is alpaca wool.   I love alpaca, have used it for a long time and really enjoy working with it.   I read this lovely blog post by Love Knitting with some great facts about alpacas and some photos that really made me smile!   Thought you might enjoy seeing this, after all that sad talk about rabbits and crocodiles. http://blog.loveknitting.com/facts-about-alpacas/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=Loveknitting&utm_campaign=290715_ALPACA&utm_content=B&&omhide=true

Well, having got that all of my chest, how about I tell you about my hols?  We had a few weeks off – it started with a long weekend looking after my inlaws place and their gorgeous dog.  They look after a mansion and the grounds, so although their flat is small, there is masses of outdoor space and a lake and a lovely meadow which often has deer in it. I didn’t see any deer this time, but my father in law found this fawn a few months ago.  Absolutely adorable and so amazing to be this close, and to be able to stroke it!  He said he saw the Mum too and she was coming back to feed her baby regularly.  Tim and I did see a young fox which was nice, he was all ears, he had huge ears!

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We had a lovely time looking after their gorgeous and affectionate dog, Skye, she is so sweet, and even slept outside our bedroom door sometimes!  She has very muddy paws in this picture, she found the muddiest bit of the lake to paddle in!  Tim made her go back and wash her paws off after this!

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I  really enjoyed being there, looking at flowers, spending a bit more time outside than I do at home,and of course, I couldn’t resist playing with my new wool!  My jumper customer was aware before I took on the commission that I needed to have this time off, and she was happy about that, so I was able to knit something else guilt free.  It is such a gorgeous yarn, and I made up a lovely pattern to show it off.  More on that another time!

Then we had a few days at home before we went off for our second long weekend!  We went to stay in Lewes, as we were attending a large convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses at the AMEX stadium, Brighton, which is one stop away on the train from Lewes. We rented a studio flat, just off Cliffe High Street, which was perfect for what we needed, the flat was quiet and clean and really nice, and we could step out of the front door and have our pick of places to eat in the evenings.  We really enjoyed it, and I hope to go back one day when we might have a bit more time to explore Lewes.  The convention kept us busy as you can imagine but we did have some nice evenings in Lewes and a lovely morning shopping before we set off home.  I have to say, the charity shop there is very good, I always find that, if it’s a nice town the charity shops have much nicer stuff!

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As you can see, I had my knitting with me, this photo was to show I was knitting in the car on the way there while Tim was driving!  We also went to Bill’s – my parents rave about Bill’s and often go down to Lewes to the first ever Bill’s, so as it was only a few doors along from where we stayed, we had to go there for a meal on the Sunday evening!  Then we were there again the next day for breakfast with my parents, they couldn’t resist driving down to join us there on the Monday morning!  As I said, we then went and did a bit of charity shopping (got some great bargains!) and Tim went into a brewery shop just opposite to Bill’s!  So all in all, we were very happy indeed!

Hope you enjoyed seeing my holiday pics!  I’m back to work this week, and am working hard on my jumper commission which is coming along very well!  I’ll probably do a blog post about it at some point, but in the meantime, you can follow my progress in my Facebook album!

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