Sourcing materials for my upcoming projects has become somewhat of a hobby on its own. As I continue to study knitting, crocheting, and spinning I realize that the materials my item is crafted from is more important than the item itself. Using quality materials when crafting is a challenge for two reasons: the market for high end materials is very small so items cannot be purchased at regular chain stores and better materials are much more expensive than something you can pick up at a super store. For both of these reasons I have been looking to independent producers to fill my needs.
Independent producers are accommodating when it comes to getting their product to you and they are carrying on handmade traditions far before it gets to their customers. The extra price that comes along with this is worth it when you think about what you would be fueling if you had spent that money elsewhere on ten skeins of economy produced acrylic yarn rather than two skeins of hand processed wool yarn.
The key to buying from independent producers is knowing what you are looking for. Knowing what you want and how you want it can make all the difference when shopping from an independent. It is also a great idea to feel as close to your materials as possible as a creator. Knowing what wool came from what sheep, where it was grown, what its name was will make whatever you are making that much more timeless.
To find the right materials from the right people I use Etsy and have found tons of incredible producers and creators from around the world using this site. I have also begun to use Local Harvest after watching the Know Your Wool course on Craftsy. This site allows you to buy whatever you need directly from the farm. The selection is delightfully limited to 100% homegrown products. This is as close to your materials as you can get without having your own farm.
I still buy from commercial websites as well but not without doing a little research into the individual products I am buying first. I have found that Paradise Fibers offers plenty of commercially processed items without them being completely homogenized by big business. Webs of course is another great place to look for variety.
As I continue to search for sustainable and productive ways to source my materials I will always keep in mind the need to support small businesses who are doing the right thing for the economy and planet.
Where do you prefer to source your materials from? If Etsy, let me know which stores I’d love to find new places that are doing great things!