Practising Ahimsa with Blacker Yarns Samite Silk Blend

Regular readers of the Sister Mountain blog will have noticed that I am particularly fond of knitting with Blacker Yarns. When Sonja, their super-lovely marketing manager, contacted me about the launch of a brand new silk blend yarn, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. As expected, it is divine.

Blacker Yarns Samite Silk Blend

Samite is Blacker's homage to the history of textile manufacturing. With fifteen shades inspired by the pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts movements, and colour names selected from late nineteenth-century poetry, they wanted to pay tribute to the value Victorians placed on unique and thoughtfully crafted objects.

This yarn is both rustic and luxurious, spun from a combination of Blue-Faced Leicester, Shetland, and Gotland wool, blended with Ahimsa Silk. The two shades that they sent me were spectacular: a golden mustard called "Wild Bee's Hum" and a muted blue called "Swallow's Soar".

At first, I intended to knit a cabled swatch to take advantage of the yarn's lovely tweedy qualities, however, the two shades looked so fabulous together that I scrapped that idea in favour of some textured colourwork. As you can see, this yarn absolutely shines and appears to be a great all-rounder.

This 3-ply yarn will retail at £24.60 per 100g skein (460 metres/478 yards) and will launch on Blacker Yarns' website and with stockists on the 23rd March. However, if you're lucky enough to be heading to Edinburgh Yarn Festival this coming weekend, go and pick some up early!

The Truth About Silk

After speaking to Sonja, I was shocked to find out that, traditionally, the process of producing silk can be rather violent. As many of you will know, silk is derived from silkworms – specifically, the cocoons of the larvae. What you may not realise is that, in order to obtain the silk, many of the pupae are steamed or gassed alive in their cocoons, brutally killing them. Up to 6600 silkworms can be killed to make only one kilogram of silk.

Practising Ahimsa with Samite

Finding truly cruelty-free silk was very important to Sue and Sonja; so much so that they spent several years trying to track it down. Ultimately, their hard work paid off and they finally found some very special “Ahimsa” Silk, also known as Peace Silk.

ahimsa - əˈhɪmsɑː/ (noun)

Respect for all living things and avoidance of violence towards others.

Ahimsa silk utilises a far more humane method of producing silk. Either the pupa is allowed to hatch, leaving the leftover cocoon for silk, or the cocoon is cut open without hurting the pupa inside. This process is much slower than traditional methods, taking an extra ten days to extract the silk. However, I'm sure you will agree that the slower (and kinder) journey is worth taking here.

As the making community rethinks its role in the ethical fashion movement, it's time to seriously consider where our materials are coming from. When you support spinners like Blacker Yarns, you can be sure that you are purchasing yarn with a transparent supply chain; that your yarn is not just beautiful, but high-quality and ethical too.

Giveaway: Win a Skein of Samite!

[Update: This giveaway has now ended and the winner has been notified! Congratulations Elizabeth - enjoy your skein of Samite. Thank you to everyone else who entered!]

If you'd like to get your hands on some of this gorgeous yarn, Blacker Yarns are kindly giving away one 100g skein of Samite to a lucky Sister Mountain reader!

To enter the competition, simply comment on this blog post saying what you'd like to knit with Samite. To double your chances and get one extra entry, follow @sister.mountain on Instagram and then mention it in your blog comment.

All entries must be received by midnight GMT on Monday 13th March and the winner will be announced the following day.

Good luck!