The Guilt of Cold Sheeping

“Remember Beryl who got made into a sheepskin rug?.. She’s lying in front of a fire now.” 22 June, 2007. Tremain, Garrick, 1941-:[Digital cartoons published in the Otago Daily Times from December 2004 onward]. Ref: DCDL-0003509. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

This year, I will be cold sheeping and that makes me feel happy, sad, and guilty.

‘Cold sheeping’ means to refrain from buying yarn. The term originated about a year ago and it created a bit of controversy at the time, as beautifully summed up by Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. The short version is: people should never cold sheep, because we should support indie dyers and yarn producers all the time.

But back to me. I’ve decided to cold sheep for two reasons: I’ll be student-on-a-budget this year and I have a lot of special yarn that I never get around to knitting. It’s a perfectly logical, sensible decision.

And yet….

When I first decided to cold sheep, I also decided not to tell anyone in my Melbourne knitting group. I wasn’t originally going to post about it. I was going to keep it low profile. All these acts felt like admissions of guilt, like I was doing something wrong or shameful.

The feeling intensified when I moved back to Wellington this week. I posted a photo of my Dad and I at a local bar and the owner of Wellington’s (and possibly New Zealand’s) best yarn shop welcomed me back in the comments. Like all welcoming messages, it felt good – but it was still tinged with worry. Would she be as welcoming if she knew I was cold sheeping?

All this worry and guilt was completely internal. No one had said or even indicated I had something to be ashamed of. But the online critics of cold sheeping had place a seed of doubt. Within the craft community, there’s a strong feeling of support for independent dyers, producers and shop-owners. The most visual and solid form of support is purchases – after, these people need to eat, cloth and house themselves.

But if I feel trapped in the buy, buy, buy mentality, does that really make independent crafting any different from mass consumerism? As soon as I asked myself that, my resolve to cold sheep hardened.

Money is a form of support. In the case of the vast majority of businesses and charities, it’s the best form of support. But it’s not the only form of support. I can support local yarn shops without buying yarn. I can help promote their messages on social media. I can showcase yarn previously purchased through Finished Objects on the blogs and Ravelry. I can encourage other people to knit and crochet.

And at the very end of the day: it’s my money. I can do (or not do) whatever I want with it.

As almost all my stash is currently with Allied Pickfords at an undisclosed location between Melbourne and Wellington, this could all be academic. Should it not arrive, I’m going to Holland Road and buying everything with my insurance money. 

6 thoughts on “The Guilt of Cold Sheeping

  1. Sharon says:

    And you can take me to holland rd when I visit in august. That’s definitly a form of support, and I see a jumpers worth of zealana for leon in my future.

  2. Sonia says:

    I agree with you, no one should make you feel guilty about cold-sheeping. It’s only because you’ve/I’ve been ‘too’ good a consumer in the past that has brought such drastic measures on! My resolve is strong as well, I wonder what will break me?
    p.s. It hasn’t sunk in that you’ve left Melbourne yet.

    • Kate Jordan says:

      We should have a betting pool on what breaks your resolve – will it be the Woolarium sale? Bendigo? The next release from Kate Davies?

  3. Jennifer says:

    As some one who has bought her stash in pretty much two big shopping trips and one smaller one (one massive Bendigo sheep show, one small one, and the U.K. Trip where I left with one suit case and came back with three) I believe you should buy yarn if and when you feel like it.

    I just lost my train of thought as I just noticed the melted chocolate on my iPad. Wtf was I doing?

    Do whatever you want and enjoy your knitting

  4. Tia Norak says:

    For this year I’m trying to only buy yarn for the next project – none oft that gathering stuff before it’s going “out oft print”. And even that is not easy 😉

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