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 Mink. Yes that's right, MINK.
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2009 :  5:23:23 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
And probably not what initially comes to mind! At least not for me. Here's the beginning of the review to put this in context.

Mink" is a charged word. It conjures up images of old black and white movies where women swish in and out of rooms wearing long flowing fur coats and sparkling diamonds. But it also evokes painful thoughts of animal cruelty.

Neither vision quite adequately prepares us for this yarn [Great Northern Yarns Mink Cashmere]. For starters, the mink-—a small water-loving carnivorous mammal related to the weasel and otter—-isn't actually killed for this fiber. Instead...
read the rest of the review

Clara
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vgshea@comcast.net
New Pal

3 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2009 :  9:20:20 PM  Show Profile Send vgshea@comcast.net a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What I want to know is, who brushes the minks? I've always heard that they're pretty unfriendly creatures and prone to biting and scratching. I'd think someone would have to put some effort into taming them from an early age to get them relaxed enough to brush. Unless they use some kind of horrid industrial brushing machine...
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PainterWoman
Chatty Knitter

USA
143 Posts

Posted - 06/10/2009 :  9:37:02 PM  Show Profile  Visit PainterWoman's Homepage Send PainterWoman a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Fascinating. Can you see that on your future resume? "Mink brusher."

http://Journal-to-a-muse.blogspot.com
The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners. --Florence King
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debbie@pobox.com


Posts

Posted - 06/10/2009 :  9:38:17 PM  Show Profile Send debbie@pobox.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would most definitely need to know what eventually happens to the animals. Animals that are killed for their skins are not euthanized -- you would only euthanize an animal (or person) if their quality of life were severely compromised by illness or extremely bad living conditions, not just because you want their skin (or the meat, or feet, or whatever). Plus, I strongly suspect they are caged, probably separately except for breeding, as I understand adult minks are loners and quite aggressive. I would not want to condemn an animal to that type of life just so I could have some nice yarn.

A lot more needs to be known about this process before I'd be interested in it.
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hillstreetmama
Permanent Resident

USA
3448 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  04:39:04 AM  Show Profile Send hillstreetmama a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, so am I bad for never even thinking about the animals themselves?? I immediately began to think of what I could do with this yarn. The little scarf in the One Skein book with sections of cables....wouldn't my mom get a kick out of mink wrapped around her neck?! I can't wait to try it - just don't know if I want black, natural or deep purple.....

Jan
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  04:53:01 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"But if we can buy the animal even one more season of happiness by using its fibers in yarn first, that's a good start, right?"

I'm with Debbie here - it's EXTREMELY unlikely that the fibre-procucing minks live in conditions that allow them to be happy.

But another thought: Does anybody here have ferrets (another member of the weasel family)? Ever tried brushing them? Really the only way to guarantee your fibre-producing animals are well-kept is to keep your own...

Bye, Klara

http://www.lahottee.info
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Lanea
Permanent Resident

USA
5189 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  05:31:36 AM  Show Profile  Visit Lanea's Homepage Send Lanea a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I had the same thoughts about the poor mink brushers. I've met a few minks, and they're not all the friendliest of creatures. But, I bet if you hand-raised them, they could be as sweet and fun as a well-trained ferret.

I ordered some of the undyed mink/cashmere yarn this morning. I care about animal welfare, but I also try to be intellectually honest about it. I'm wearing leather shoes, and I'll eat meat today. I knowingly participate in the slaughter of animals for my benefit as an omnivore and consumer of leather goods, sheepskin, etc. I don't think mink are inherently more deserving of my concern than are the pigs, steer, chickens, fish, goats, sheep, elk, deer, ducks, rabbits, and other animals that I eat. I am also interested to know more about the handling of the animals, but I'm not holding out hope that they live in pretty little mink condos there in Inner Mongolia.

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peggymchoe
Warming Up

63 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  05:54:48 AM  Show Profile Send peggymchoe a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I would not buy this yarn because I cannot believe the animals are kept around just to be brushed for yarn. Also China has a poor animal welfare record. I'll settle for drooling over the luscious pictures in Clara's review. I came across a quote by Alice Walker yesterday that reflects my feelings about this issue:

I find it difficult to feel responsible for the suffering of others. That's why I find war so hard to bear. It's the same with animals: I feel the less harm I do, the lighter my heart. I love a light heart. And when I know I'm causing suffering, I feel the heaviness of it. It's a physical pain. So it's self-interest that I don't want to cause harm. -Alice Walker, author (b. 1944)
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BlueStocking
Sustaining Member

USA
945 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  06:08:41 AM  Show Profile  Visit BlueStocking's Homepage Send BlueStocking a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I ordered some, too (all the while sending a very sweet curse to Clara for teasing me with a yarn I just couldn't resist trying out).

I agree with all the above comments, especially Lanea's. I don't imagine these minks are living in mink paradise, but would hope that since the company is making the effort to brush them rather than kill them outright, it is also making the effort to keep the minks in a good, healthy environment (if for no other reason than to protect its own investment). I don't imagine that the minks are treated any worse or better than other animals that are brushed for their fibers ~ yaks and some breeds of angora rabbit come to mind.

I'm looking forward to trying it out. Thanks for the review Clara!

Jennifer

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"

Yarns and Rare Spinning Fibers from Spirit Trail Fiberworks: http://www.spirit-trail.net
Blog: http://TheSpiritTrail.blogspot.com
"SpiritTrail" on Flickr and Ravelry

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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  06:44:11 AM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It really is a tricky issue and I'm glad we're talking about it. As I was researching the mink industry and reading all the articles for and against it, I realized that many of the same arguments could be applied to wool, angora, and even cashmere. Partly it depends on how you define "captivity" and how you define "happy." Nobody throws red paint on a wool sweater, even though the majority of sheep raised for wool eventually end up in a freezer.

We can use a country's general track record as a guide, but it's hard to know - without physically visiting the farm and spending time with the animals - what the real situation is. Craig assures me that these animals are treated well, and he said this was important for him too. He's been there, so I'd like to think that he knows. But as you say, we can't really know until we see it with our own eyes.

Anyone up for a trip to China?

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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nazdorovye
New Pal

Canada
3 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  06:45:20 AM  Show Profile Send nazdorovye a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What concerns me is, firstly, how are the mink treated while alive? I do not want my blissful, stimulating, and treasured knitting time cast into a scene where I imagine mink crowded like sardines in a can, living in their own droppings, never allowed to frolic, run, enjoy sunshine. We in this country do the same to pigs, chickens, and cows. I hope and pray that, even in a country with so many economic challenges, resources are used to euthenize the mink at the end. But how they are treated, day to day, is of more concern to me. Are we knitting the suffering of the mink into our lovely garments their hair provides?
Melanie in Winnipeg
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AngieSue
Permanent Resident

USA
1606 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  06:55:45 AM  Show Profile Send AngieSue a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I care deeply about my pets and other animals but know the reality that my eggs come from caged hens and my meat from confined feeding operations. Alas, I don't hold out hope that the minks are being raised for their undercoats and as fun-loving free spirits. Do I feel guilty about buying that skein of mink & cashmere yarn? No, no more guilty that I do enjoying a ribeye steak on the grill.

I still have a mink stole that was made for grandmother back in the 50's. The maker even put a label stating that the stole was made exclusively for her. She loved that stole, my stepdaughter played "dress-up" with it, and I couldn't part with it, no matter the reason.

Angie
My Ravelry
My Pictures
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NutmegOwl
Gabber Extraordinaire

576 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  07:08:25 AM  Show Profile  Visit NutmegOwl's Homepage Send NutmegOwl a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is one of those few times I wish we had feedback buttons under our posts here on KR. Lanea expressed my feelings on it perfectly, and for that, I thank her. The horse is quickly expiring, so no need to beat it.

This discussion notwithstanding, I did something I've never done before, linking right on over and ordering 2 sk of the black. I haven't knitted with black in years, so it just seemed like the right thing to do, and I need a little lusciousness in my life right now. Jan, the purple was sold out, unless you got to it first ...

-----
Nutmeg Owl
Quaecumque sunt vera
http://www.owlwaysknitting.wordpress.com
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ajmc@bigplanet.com
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  07:16:58 AM  Show Profile Send ajmc@bigplanet.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
In the mid-90's, I was fortunate enough to order Reynold's Debut, a luxury blend of 65% wool and 35% sheared mink, from Smiley's Yarns. It was made in England. It is one of the most beautiful, well behaved yarns I've ever used. Awesome stitch definition, wears beautifully as in never one single pill or sign of wear, and if it were available today, I'd buy every color! It was a dream yarn!

Happy knitting to all -- Ann
www.annmccauleyknits.com
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nazdorovye
New Pal

Canada
3 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  07:18:28 AM  Show Profile Send nazdorovye a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have a cousin, a spinner and fabric artist, who raises angora rabbits and cares for them well. She claims they like being brushed. Most sheep who give wool do get to graze part of their lives in the open air. Just as we knitters can make efforts, when possible, to eat free range eggs and chicken, and to lobby or work for the kind treatment of animals being raised for our sustenance, we can make choices with regard to supporting the kind treatment of animals that provide the fibre that goes into the yarns we buy, which we then enjoy knitting into garments for those we like and love.
Melanie in Winnipeg
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terry.tucker@hro.com
New Pal

1 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  08:15:49 AM  Show Profile Send terry.tucker@hro.com a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This is horrible! I will not even use merino yarn from Australia until the ban on mulesing takes effect in 2010 - what are we becoming as a society that we are caging, mistreating and downright abusing animals for fashion, "animals which possess the same complex emotional/physiological traits as loved household pets, yet are denied all reasonable consideration and confined to a miserable "existence" in tiny wire cages hardly large enough to turn around in." Browse the web and have a look at mink farms - both here and in Mongolia.
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shaggy
Permanent Resident

USA
4126 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  10:04:35 AM  Show Profile Send shaggy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Lanea

I had the same thoughts about the poor mink brushers. I've met a few minks, and they're not all the friendliest of creatures. But, I bet if you hand-raised them, they could be as sweet and fun as a well-trained ferret.

I ordered some of the undyed mink/cashmere yarn this morning. I care about animal welfare, but I also try to be intellectually honest about it. I'm wearing leather shoes, and I'll eat meat today. I knowingly participate in the slaughter of animals for my benefit as an omnivore and consumer of leather goods, sheepskin, etc. I don't think mink are inherently more deserving of my concern than are the pigs, steer, chickens, fish, goats, sheep, elk, deer, ducks, rabbits, and other animals that I eat. I am also interested to know more about the handling of the animals, but I'm not holding out hope that they live in pretty little mink condos there in Inner Mongolia.

See proof of insanity: http://crazylanea.com/
Read my audiobook reviews: http://booksforears.com/
Buy handmade sock knitting bags: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5031570
Join the KR Webring: http://www.crazylanea.com/fiberarts/2006/07/the_knitters_re.html



----------------------------------------------------------------------

Right on, my dear.



shaggy

every dollar makes Betty smile





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Whoopdedo
New Pal

USA
13 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  10:06:15 AM  Show Profile Send Whoopdedo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I saw this fiber advertised and admit I don't 'trust' the process used too produce it. It seems to me that times where money and profit are in the picture,all resolve of no animal cruelty are reduced. With All the many choices of fiber,(as my stash proves) I'll stick with something that is more conscious- friendly to me. As always though, I thank Clara for her reviews,and the opinions from my knitter friends.
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Bethany
Permanent Resident

USA
1546 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  11:46:16 AM  Show Profile Send Bethany a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My strong suspicion is that the mink are eventually killed for furs. But, I'm not a vegetarian. I don't really feel like I'm in a place to complain about people killing animals because they're fuzzy when I kill animals (or rather, pay for them to be killed on my behalf) because they're yummy.

The bigger thing holding me back is whether the yarn is soft like cashmere, or prickly like angora. (Yes, I find angora soft but prickly. Same with alpaca. What can I say?)
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Clara
queen bee

USA
4401 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  12:54:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Clara's Homepage Send Clara a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just received this feedback from a reader who didn't wish to register for the Forums, so I'm sharing it here. Thought it'd be helpful to have all thoughts out in the open.

If we are aware of the known fact that dogs and cats are raised in unspeakably cruel conditions, to be skinned alive for their fur in China, can you then imagine the circumstances on a mink "farm". I don't believe mink yarn is "a step in the right direction". Please use common sense, your support of this product is not buying these animals "another day of happiness". Don't rationalize to placate your guilt. I can guarantee the reality of their lives is pure misery: crammed in wire cages,filthy, inhumane conditions. Lets NOT support this, nor any fur product. I am disapointed by your promotion of this product and hope that the compassionate and INFORMED knitting community I know supports this view.
Carol Haley

Clara
Your friendly Knitter's Review publisher
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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2009 :  2:02:27 PM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Interesting to see how many newbies are jumping into this discussion.

Like Lanea, I rarely think about the chicken I had for lunch or the leather shoes I'm wearing. I grew up around animals that were raised for fibre and animals that were raised for food, and animals raised for their hide. Can I honestly say that some weasel's life is worth more than some cattle's life? Not to me.

As for the post from Ms. Haley above, I am a compassionate and INFORMED knitter, but I also am not going to be a hypocrite and feel sorry for one animal whilst eating another.
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