VM: the last frontier

i spun this pretty mohair yarn for a sweet friend who is a doll artist. she has bought a few skeins from me to use for the crowning glory (hair) for her amazing creations.

since i knew this wouldn't be used for knitting or a next-to-skin project, i indulged myself a bit and didn't bother so much with what spinners call "VM" or "vegetable matter." this is the little bits of grass and hay that you find in most raw fleeces, even after they have been thoroughly scoured. this is because these little bits cling to the wool, and have to be picked out if you are preparing a fleece by hand - which takes for*ever*. (at the mills, they use chemicals to dissolve the vm). i much prefer to process my own just the way i want, and avoid icky chemicals, and so i usually do my best to pick out all the bits before and after washing, and then the remaining bits fall out while i'm spinning. but this is one reason i've been reluctant to offer batts in my etsy shop - i can't get the wool as vm-free as a fiber mill.

but sometimes i think, what exactly is the Big Deal with VM? especially when i'm also drying flowers, dyeing with leaves and making beads out of rose petals? why does the addition a different sort of natural material mean that wool is considered a lesser-grade?

while i don't want bits of bark poking me from inside a sweater, i really don't mind a little bit of grass left over from where the bunny was eating, or a tiny bit of twig from where the sheep was cavorting. especially in art yarn. if yarn isn't going to be next to a baby's head or your love's neck, is VM really a problem? knitters, what am i missing?


  1. oh i just love the way that yarn looks.
    i'm not knowledgeable enough to answer your question.

  2. no it's not a problem, especially with batts as beautiful as yours. i've told you before, that coming across a bit of vm makes me feel more connected to the animal and the land where it lives & in this case- to you too!

  3. i love the idea...especially for primitive doll hair! i know when washing wool my big concern was getting out the dingleberries more than the bits of VM...

  4. don't do yarn but the post feels empowering.

    i say rock on!

  5. I think it's just one of those things that people/knitters/yarn customers are going to always have a divide over. Also I think for the non-farm-oriented or those newer to buying unprocessed fiber, there seems to be a pervasive fear of poo--did the grass go *through* the critter already, or did it get picked up in some non-sterile enclosure somewhere...? Some people think VM means unclean, or even worse, unprofessional coming from a spinner or battmaker. We just have to, I almost hate to say it, keep educating knitters that some yarn and fiber will have VM and that it's really OK, that it really can add character and authenticity to an art yarn, testifies to the hand process of making that yarn. There are people who will always disagree with that, but then again those are the folks who aren't likely to be shopping for art yarn, are they? They don't have to buy it in any case. (I'm always scared someone like that will buy one of mine someday and yell at me and be mean, in fact I have dreams about it and wake up sweating.)

    I've been oggling your shop for ages, btw, and your yarns and everything else you sell are just lusciously gorgeous!

  6. thanks all, and hi carrie! i'm super glad to meet you... and your comment gives me a lot more insight. i know that night-sweating fear!