The Yarn Play Maker Bag

bag contentsHere’s an activity kit for all ages that’s both educational and fun! We’ve gathered everything needed to dye a skein of natural wool at home including disposable gloves and detailed instructions. Each bag contains only Kool-Aid® flavors containing food dye colors that blend well — colors that are adjacent on the color wheel. To make an oops hank of brownish gray yarn, you’ll have to purchase a packet of Kool-Aid® that contains food dye from the opposite side of the color wheel.

The yarn we’ve selected for this project is spun from 100% natural virgin wool from Corriedale sheep raised in Uruguay. Most wool today comes from Australia, New Zealand and China and merino sheep account for nearly all yarn produced there. Unfortunately, ranchers in these countries sometimes employ a controversial procedure called “mulesing” to prevent “flystrike” disease in merino sheep,  a method considered cruel and ineffective by PETA and other animal rights organizations.

wool skeinWe looked to the grasslands of Uruguay when sourcing yarn for this project. The country’s tourist board’s  promotional slogan is UruguayNatural which captures the approach to life and well-being in Uruguay and that same attitude carries over to animal welfare, as this video from the Uruguayan Wool Industry portrays. Considering that combined with this statement from the Uruguayan Wool Industry convinced us we’d be buying wool from a responsible source.

The Uruguayan wool industry is committed to achieve the highest standards of sheep care. The natural fibre is produced by healthy sheep under the best available animal husbandry practices. Sheep graze mainly on native grasslands on mixed farms, combined with beef cattle. Most ewes lamb in spring, season when the feed availability is highest due to seasonality of pastures production. Generalized pre-lambing shearing let breeding ewes produce fast growing lambs and high quality wool. All the wool produced in Uruguay is mulesing-free: Mulesing has never been nor is currently practiced in Uruguayan sheep production. It is an unnecessary husbandry practice to do, neither for climate nor sanitary reasons. Adequate stockmanship and animal handling is also guaranteed by competent people in charge of the care of animals.

For those who have never worked with yarn before, we’ve included very basic crochet instructions — just enough to get you started, so you can turn your yarn into something unique. Others, go crazy! Knit, crochet, macrame, weave — the sky’s the limit if you have a creative idea that requires roughly 65 yards of yarn.

If you’re one who has drooled over bins of fabulously seductive yarn without a hint of where to begin in putting it to use, this is a creative way to start.  Yarn is mainly used in knitting and crocheting and both require concentration and practice while learning. We chose to offer crochet as a beginner’s needle craft because it’s more forgiving and it is easier to go back and correct mistakes than it is in knitting.

yarn needle croppedTo correct a mistake when knitting, you must “tink” (knit spelled backwards) which involves knitting backwards, until you reach the  mistake. You must then figure out how to fix the problem while keeping the rest of the stitches where they belong on the needles. If you make a mistake while crocheting, you simply remove the hook and pull  out stitches back to and including the mistake,  put the hook back in the loop and move forward from there.

We’re including a yarn needle because the instructions for every pattern call for  certain types yarn, a suggested hook or hooks and a yarn needle. The yarn choices are many and fun  and over time you’ll acquire a collection of hooks. If you’re just starting out though, make a habit of keeping track of your yarn needle.  There’s always the length of yarn you left at the beginning and the one that’s still hanging at the end. You can’t simple cut them off, they will unravel and fray. You need to thread them back into the rows of stitches where they won’t show using a yarn needle. There’s nothing worse than finishing a beautiful piece of needlework and having yarn dangling along the edges. If you have a yarn needle handy, you will always able to finish up those loose ends.