As a knitter on a budget, I was green with envy when I first heard about Knitpicks. Quality natural yarns at a fraction of the price they were sold for at the local yarn store. But only available to residents of America and Candada.
The free market, however, abhors a vacuum and Spotlight has recently brought out a 'Basics'range. This yarn is described as 100 percent Australian wool, made in China. It costs less than AUD$4.80 for 100 grams. And I'm sure it is only a matter of time before the choice of colours expands and we get the Basics alpaca, and the other natural yarn blends being sold by the likes of KnitPicks.
But just how good is this Basics yarn anyway, and should we be using it?
The Dr Who scarf is an eclectic collection of yarn brands, chosen for colour. For some reason the limited Basics colour section was the only brand to feature the exact shade of light tan I needed for the scarf.
While I am not sure how well it wears, Spotlight's 'Basic' wool is extremely soft and it certainly does not seem to be any worse quality than any other very soft wools I've used (soft yarns in general don't wear as well as the firmer yarns and don't retain garment shape/patterns as well but they do feel better next to the skin and that is why we sometimes use them) ; there is minimal shedding and if anything far fewer flaws/knots than I find in other yarns.
But I wonder about the ethics of using it. The only way that we can buy 100 percent Australian wool for such a good price is if the inputs are very cheap. How much did the farmers get for this wool and did it cover the cost of raising the sheep? And I wonder under just what conditions the yarn was spun in China, what the workers at the mill were paid and how they were treated, that meant I could buy 8ply Basics wool cheaply in Australia.
Just some thoughts.