‘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.
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.