What’s New for Uhaneknits

Working hard to bring new designs to Uhane knits for the summer. Im having a ball trying out new yarns and patterns. My love for wool haven’t wavered but I absolutely have fell in love with 100%Bamboo yarn. It’s elegant sheen and beautiful texture has been a joy to work with. I’ve also been working with mercerized cotton and my old favorite nylon yarn (that I have faithfully used as an accent to my handbags or for my accessory belts).
I am stepping out of my box & I’m very excited to show a sneak peak very soon.
We will be listing he locations to our vending dates where you will be able to see Uhane knits up close and personal.
Until next time….

New Look For 2012

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Happy New Year!!!
For the New year Uhane knits has a new look for our Flash website at Uhaneknits.com & New Handbag Designs.
I’m using new yarns like the incredibly soft Bamboo Yarn and unique surprises like yarn made from Recycled Jeans.
Uhane knits will continue to make Simple, elegant and unique designs for all occasions.

Thank you for your support and I look forward to making your next Uhane Knits Handbag.

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New designs debuted at Arts &Crafts show

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We had a great time at the Ocean Beach Arts &Craft Show on Fire Island Ny this past weekend. Even though Sunday was cancelled due to the storm, Saturday was a great success!!!!
We want to thank everyone for their kind words & purchases. We had a great time.
Uhane knits launch a couple of new designs

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I truly appreciated the wonderful response to Uhane Knits Handbags and we look forward to coming back next year.

New “Go Green” Uhane Knits Handbag & Accessory Lineup for Fall 2011

When the dreads do fashion, what material do they turn to?  Hemp is it, of course! Why, you may ask? “The beauty of the fabric speaks for itself,” says Diana Gordon, Uhane Knits Designer & President.  “It is a fabulous fabric, one of the best-kept fashion industry secrets. It is a good old-fashioned renewable natural resource with so many great uses but carries such an unwarranted stigma.”  So why would a Brooklyn born, homegrown company now based in Long Beach, New York consisting of a married duo, Diana & Mannix Gordon choose hemp as the best choice in handbag design?  Though cannabis is front and center in the ongoing culture and legal drug wars[1], they would like to break with the stereotype and talk about their own hand knit fashion sense based on ecological sustainability.  Here is their take on it.

As legislative battles to legalize the herb wages in statehouses around the country bring new awareness to the medicinal effects of a controlled substance such as cannabis[2], another aspect has been oft overlooked.  Much less controversial and still widely unknown is the industrial and commercial uses of the non-narcotic form of the plant called hemp.   The Uhane Knits 2011 collection puts the fabric front and center in clutches and handbags.

‘Hemp sources for our clothing[3] is legally grown, in countries like Canada, France, and China requires no pesticides to aid growth. Hemp is one of the most environmentally friendly products we could find.” says Mannix. “Uhane Knits would like to focus on the knitting uses and fabric derivatives from the herb. We asked why we cannot get hemp yarn grown in the United States.”  As stated in their 2011 catalogue, they see the benefits of  hemp line as economical,  fashion forward, and eco-friendly. (see the full press release at uhaneknits.com). Download the new catalogue at www.uhaneknits.com/UhaneKnitsCatalogueSeasons2011.pdf

Contrary to urban myth[4] and even conventional wisdom, industrial hemp is actually legal for industrial uses  in the United States.  Though policies against the cultivation of this wondrous eco-friendly fiber have been tantamount to a near shutdown of the industry in America, it was not always reviled and stigmatized this way.

Hemp agriculture used to thrive in the U.S. until the industrial revolution.  The dominance of “King Cotton” then and the 20th century proliferation of petroleum-based synthetics saw to it that hemp as an industrial fabric faded into obscurity. Fear of marijuana proliferation[5] [6] and ubiquity of cheaper synthetic fabrics pushed the cultivation of industrial hemp aside. Panic of spreading drug use and hippie culture in the sixties led to federal legislation[7] to ban all cannabis plant cultivation, including hemp. However, hemp is not marijuana, though they both derive from the same Cannabis Sativa family of plants. Hemp is known for its strong fiber, oil, and its many industrial uses. Industrial Hemp has little THC (less than 1.0%, norm: 0.5%)[8], than the mind-altering affect that recreational/ medicinal marijuana (range of 3% to 20%) is known for and no one could get high from smoking it.

Did you know the first American flags and the first denim jeans by Levi Strauss were made from hemp?  Our founding fathers grew hemp and saw it as a duty to the nation in the early years of this country to expand its production.   If it was good then, it should be great now as many eco-conscious consumers turn to more natural and environmental friendly solutions to the age-old question of what to wear.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country”.  George Washington said, “”Make the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!”[9]  The decision was clear from early on that pound for pound, acre for acre, hemp was a winner crop to help build and develop a new nation.  The amount of industrial uses is amazing.  During World War II, the American government even encouraged farmers [10] to grow it to help aid the war effort.

From oils /bio-fuel to food, from medicine to cosmetics, from paper to building blocks and ultimately to clothing, hemp is a pollution-eating crop with a wide variety of domestic uses.  It is a wonder plant.[11]  Fast growing and sewage eating, hemp has very little need for chemical fertilization.  Hemp is naturally disease resistant, can be grown almost anywhere and improves the soil for the next crop. Growing hemp fiber can save many trees from being clear-cut. So Grow hemp and use its fibers instead for paper products.  Save the trees and let them grow.

Thirty nations on the planet currently grow industrial hemp.[12]  These include Canada, Australia, England, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, Russia, and China. The Biggest producer of hemp is China.  The Chinese, Europeans and Canadians, have cornered the world market on hemp.[13] This hemp is then imported to the U.S. with a huge mark up in price.  This is lost revenue for American farmers and for the government’s tax coffers alike due to outdated Cannabis policies and a misunderstanding of the difference between marijuana and hemp.  It is about time U.S. farmers are allowed to get in on the industrial hemp action again without fear of any stigma or sanctions. We have the farm acreage here[14] and internal consumer demand for it in the U.S. is growing[15].

With global climate change, more than ever there is a need for farmers to diversify their crops.  They can do so frugally with low maintenance soil enriching hemp, it’s especially beneficial in drought stricken areas throughout the southwest.  The environmental problems associated with lower annual rainfall conditions, persistent use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides are well documented[16] [17] [18]. Since hemp does not need much rainfall, fertilizer or pesticides, it might well be time to rethink hemp cultivation here.  These reasons among others is why the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recently adopted a resolution strongly urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to collaboratively develop and adopt an official definition of industrial hemp. The Arizona Industrial Hemp council and other grassroots organizations are making a strong nationwide push to relieve the restrictions on the cultivation so beneficial to their state and to the U.S. economy as a whole.[19]

Consumers too can have a huge role in boosting the industry back to prominence by boosting personal demand. When shopping, demand Fair Trade, demand organic, and demand hemp products!  Simply choosing and wearing hemp is an easy “go green” fashion statement which can have a huge impact on the industry.  Even with importation, the prices are still competitive and the fiber itself is durable and softens nicely with wear.  “Ladies are going to buy cute handbags & its time again to look at the eco-friendly hemp as a viable alternative?” Gordon asks, “Who will take the lead in this area of the fashion debate? Uhane Knits has already gone all in with hemp in their new collection of handbags this year. We call on others in the fashion industry to join us and do the same.”

Gordon boasts, “We base high value on originality and simple elegance, from supporting those who plow the earth organically to us carefully knitting and stitching with our own hands. We feel these qualities and the personal touch sets Uhane Knits apart from companies who rely on machine made & mass production techniques. Each of our bags, belts, and clutches are unique and lovingly handknit here in the U.S.A.”  When buying a new handbag, try Uhane Knits for innate artistry, eco-friendly materials, and colorful energy for a bold refreshing change.

Sources / Endnotes


[1] Culture War: – ‘Marijuana Man’ Comic Book –  Son of reggae legend, Ziggy Marley, released a comic book called “Marijuana Man”  in commemoration of the 4/20 celebrations.

[2] States Hemp Legislation: To date, twenty-nine states have introduced hemp legislation and seventeen have passed legislation; nine (Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia) have removed barriers to its production or research. eight states have passed hemp resolutions: California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and Virginia. In 2002, Hawaii became the first state to reopen licensing for research production of hemp under strict regulatory oversight.

[3] EarthEasy.com “The value of this versatile, easy to grow, eco-friendly crop is becoming more and more apparent. For example, Canadian hemp farmers make $80 per hectare while American grain farmers make $8. This represents a promising option for farmers whose current crops experience reduced demand. Tobacco farmers take note!” – Greg Seaman founder of Earth Easy

[5] Hemp Industry Association, USA It is currently illegal to grow industrial hemp for food, oil, paper or fabric in the USA, but it is perfectly legal to export hemp to the U.S. and to process, consume and wear it there.

[6] HempFarm.org “Marijuana and Hemp: The Untold Story” Thomas Bouril, 1997; For the first 162 years of America’s existence, marijuana was totally legal and hemp was a common crop. But during the 1930s, the U.S. government and the media began spreading outrageous distortions and untruths about marijuana, which led to its prohibition. (“Marijuana: The devil’s weed with roots in hell”, “Marijuana makes fiends of boys in 30 days”, “Reefer Madness”, etc.) It was banned in the USA under the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. In a blatant case of mistaken identity, industrial hemp was banned along with it

[7] The Controlled Substance Act of 1970 – Two federal agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, determine which substances are added to or removed from the various schedules

[8] Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential USDA Paper, 2000 – delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”), the active psychotropic ingredient found in the leaves and flowers of the female plant

[9] Founding Father Quotes: George Washington, The Writings of George Washington Volume 33, page 270 (Library of Congress), 1794

[10] Archive.org US government propaganda film made during WWII touting the virtues of hemp. The film was aimed at farmers at a time when the miltary was facing a shortage of hemp, it shows how hemp is grown and processed into rope and other products.

[11] Encyclopedia Information on Hemp: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp

[12] Agricultural Marketing Research Center Worldwide research and development has sparked an increase in new, innovative uses for hemp. In contrast to the United States, over 30 countries have continued to grow and process industrial hemp. World leaders of hemp production include Canada, Germany, England and France. The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) says between 15 to 20 companies in the European Union (EU) and between 5 to 10 companies in Eastern Europe process hemp. In 2001, the seven largest companies had a total of about 25,000 acres under contracted cultivation, producing an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 metric tons of fiber, about one-third of global production.

[13] Agricultural Marketing Research Center A conservative estimate of the total retail value of hemp products sold in the United States in 2007 is $350 million. The current annual U.S. market for hemp yarn and fabric is estimated to be in the $15 million range. The Hemp Industries Association estimates that the North American retail market for hemp textiles and fabrics exceeded $100 million in 2007 and is growing around 10 percent per year. The retail health care market, including lotions and oils, is estimated to sell over $30 million worth of hemp products in the United States annually.

[14] Industrial Hemp in the United States: Status and Market Potential USDA Paper, 2000: In 1998, imports of hemp seed into North America were estimated at 1,300 tons. Given yields in Germany of about 1,000 pounds per acre, it would take 2,600 acres to satisfy the demand for hemp seed. As with fiber imports, it would take only a few average sized farms to meet this demand.  According to the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA), the trade association representing the Canadian hemp industry, Canadian farmers planted over 48,000 acres of hemp in 2006, a new record. This is twice the 2005 acreage and six times the 2004 acreage of about 4,000 acres. Canadian farmers are reporting net profits of $200 to $250 per acre.

[15] Industrial hemp’s double dividend: a study for the USA, by Dave M. Alden, John L. R. Proopsand Philip W. Gay – excerpt from abstract: The impacts on domestic industries and the quality of the environment of permitting industrial hemp production in the United States are explored. These impacts are modeled in three States of the World that reflect alternative assumptions about technology. A linear programming model of domestic textile fiber, oil seed, pulp logs, pulp and paper industries is employed. The objective of the model is total land use minimization. The impact on domestic industries of permitting industrial hemp production are substantial in each State of the World. Economic efficiency is measured in terms of total direct land use required to produce a desired level of physical output.

[16] Botanical Pesticides in Agriculture, By Anand Prakash, Jagadiswari Rao; 1997 CRC Press Inc.

[17] Economic Impacts of reduced pesticide use in the United States: Measurement of Costs and Benefits by the Agricultural & Food Policy Center (AFPC) Policy Issues Paper 99-2 August 1999.

[18] HempUSA.org Hemp has few natural predators and it grows well without herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. The production of cotton, on the other hand, consumes about 25% of all pesticides used on American crops. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Industrial hemp is also a very land efficient crop. On a per acre basis, hemp yields 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax without the need for toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Hemp has a deep root system that helps to prevent soil erosion, removes toxins, provides a disease break, and aerates the soil to the benefit of future crops. Hemp grows well in a variety of climates and soil types. Hemp builds and replenishes topsoil and subsoil structures. Hemp plants shed their leaves throughout the growing season, adding rich organic matter to the topsoil and helping it retain moisture which allows hemp to be more drought-resistant. Hemp leaves the soil in excellent condition for any succeeding crop, especially when weeds may otherwise be troublesome.

[19] Arizona Industrial Hemp Council Purpose: To promote development of Industrial Hemp in Arizona

THE CASE FOR HAND KNIT HANDBAGS PART III – UHANE KNITS, THE CHOICES & FUTURE

Uhane Knits

The Uhane Knits Label of Quality

As a person who loves and carries handbags wherever I go, wool is great because it’s perfect year round.  We all know wool is a great insulator, that it’s wonderful in retaining heat; but did you know that insulation also works both ways?  Wool is great for keeping the cool in too.  Different cultures use wool clothes because it is a breathable material allowing the skin to cool itself during warm weather, and retain heat during cooler weather. Bedouins and Tuaregs mainly use wool clothes to keep the heat out, while the Inuit and Scandinavians mainly use it to keep the heat in through cold winters.

I hear from people that they cannot believe that

someone actually sat there and actually made a knitted bag!

All I can do is smile and say to them, “yes, I did make that

Unlike synthetics and petroleum-based products, wool is the best sustainable choice. It is an organic product, eco-friendly and is better for the environment without the chemical processes.  Done right, hand shearing does not harm the animals & free range herding is preferred. Organic wool just happens to be my favorite, but there are many other types of yarn to choose. Distinctive yarns comes from countries near & far.

For example, I use wool-soy blends made in China that are heavier and are great for colder climates. Nylon blended yarn are very sturdy and springy, so I use them for many of our belts and bag straps. There are lightweight wools (Morocco) and heavier wools (Italy). There is super-chunky, chunky, lightweight, sock yarns, and many width and thread sizes.

Making Bedouin Wool Yarn / Eyal Dor Ofer – Yaldor Photography

Making Bedouin Wool Yarn

Again, with various colors and sizes, the possibilities are endless. Countries such as Peru make very distinctive quality wool yarn that dyes well.

 I just hope that I can come up with the perfect bag for the season and satisfy the needs of the individual customer.

'Aina Hemp Handbag on Billboard

'Aina Hemp Handbag on Store Billboard

I have starting experimenting with other materials to create more seasonal looks. Soon, we will be incorporating yarn made of cotton, hemp and other natural fibers.  Stay tuned!  Each new fiber has its own inherent and unique qualities, but that is a topic for another discussion.  Still, to me, wool is my most vibrant, year-round and staple choice. It is an awesome fabric and makes perfect sense year round.  Uhane Knits handbags come in lots of  shapes, colors and styles.

When I began Uhane Knits, I wanted to not only change people’s perceptions about hand knit designs but also open their minds to the possibilities of what organic and eco-friendly material  can be. I wanted to bring out the spirit of the material and hopefully mold it with my own passion to create lovely and functional women’s accessories.  I knew even as a girl that knitting could be used for more than just socks, sweaters & scarves. I believed that it could even be used to make designer handbags. I knew that wool could be worn with style any season & for any occasion.

Wool is still underappreciated in the design of handbags. I think it is because of a simple lack of knowledge of the material and its wonderfulness.  People may not consider the material because they may think of it only in winter, just for warmth, for hats and scarves, not for handbags. This offers us at Uhane Knits a great opportunity.

It is our mission & our slogan to get the word out to people that wool is for every season

I hope this treatise and the information within will enlighten you as it has for me.  Can you now see yourself wearing quality wool even between the months of May and October? Now you know a little more about my favorite fabric, my love for wool and more than most people about what goes into an Uhane Knits handbag.

After reading the “Case for Handknit Handbags”, now you can explain with authority to anyone who looks puzzled about you wearing wool in the spring.

Cynthia Diane

Cynthia Diane Shoulder Bag in Wool / Soy Blend

Even in July, armed with this knowledge, you will be able to explain to them why “Wool is not just for winter” and can tell them the facts of why it be can enjoyed year round!  So go wear your wool, anytime, with pride.  Thank you for reading.

We’d love to hear from you too! Let us know what you think about the subject.  Subscribe or just leave a comment with us on our wordpress blog: HandKnit. Also, you can visit on facebook, the UK website, or just peruse our photostream on flickr. Crafters are welcome to join our circle and please visit our shop on Etsy.

THE CASE FOR HAND KNIT HANDBAGS PART I – MY LOVE FOR WOOL

Ono Handbag

Diana Gordon modelling Ono

I always had a love for Knitting and I like to make things with my hands.  I wanted to put these two loves together so I started a company to try to fulfill both passions. I am here today to explain what makes my favorite fabric so special in making my handbags and I hope you will love it too.

I am a proud knitter and, we proud knitters all have our own preferences for the types of yarn we choose. I can literally spend hours online or in craft stores staring at yarn. The choices are enormous.  All of the colors, textures and variety of sources are breathtaking to me.

However, what is most amazing is that with all the options for materials, my preferred choice is always wool. To many in the mainstream fashion world, wool may not be the obvious choice. But it is for me, which is creating handbags.

Wool yarn is the building blocks for a knitter. There are myriad benefits hidden in the nature the fiber. I feel limited only by my own imagination. I find the process of choosing the yarn I love equally fascinating to the actual things I ultimately come up. I invite you to discover why I love wool so much.

Wool is made from shearing the fleece of animals (much like hair in that it contains keratin proteins). Then it is twisted, weaved, spun and dyed to make yarn.  Wool can come from a host of different animals. From the fleece of common domesticated animals like sheep, goats or rabbits, I can make sturdy fabrics for clothing and other accessories. You might know these fabrics as lambswool, mohair, cashmere or angora.  Considered luxurious because of their great insulating properties, their scarcity, and natural beauty, the wool from these animals have been used for centuries. Artisan skill is required to actually fabricate them into wearable items.

One type of wool, lambswool comes in grades from the fine merino to the coarse karakul.  A knitter has to choose what grade works best for them.  However, we are not limited to just these furry critters. More types of yarns are becoming available everyday. Now for a knitter like myself living and making bags in the United States, I am noticing the qualities of these newer offerings on the scene & from around the world. Yarn spun from exotic animals like muskox, camel, llama, and vicuña intrigue me. I have already begun to incorporate exotic yarn like alpaca in my fashion line this year. I would even like to try buffalo yarn (American bison) in the future.

Sweet Potato Pie / Ono

Ono Alpaca Handbag

Knitting is not a new thing.  In spite of the perception, it’s not just relegated to a Grandma weaving at her wooden loom and knitting booties in a rocking chair. Young people are doing it too and the craft is growing. [1] To the contrary, weaving and creating garments in wool, although an ancient craft, is making an astounding resurgence.  Knit and other handmade items have become more popular today by the growth of online stores like Etsy.com. You can find a Uhane Knits shop there as well. Etsy’s a handknit community with lots of great designers of handmade & household items, trinkets, clothing and wearable art.There has been evidence of wool fibers found in the Republic of Georgia in Eurasia dating back to 34,000 ago. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks all knitted in wool. All over the world, communities of weavers still make wool into yarn. This is great news for us industrious knitters determined to turn these building blocks into everything. From upholstery to rugs, from scarves & hats to sweaters, from socks to even diaper covers and to my favorite, handbags. It is amazing the amount of ways wool is utilized today to express creativity. God bless indigenous cultures & the crafters who keep this art alive.

Even in this modern age of machines, plastics, and synthetic fabrics, it is still the natural feel, unique breathing & binding qualities of wool that many of our customers prefer.[2] There is nothing like a handmade item that captures the interest, to give as gifts or to keep as an heirloom.

Today, with all the craftwork involved, wool is still an economically viable option.  The fiber is still used to make both functional and aesthetically fashionable items.  Mass Manufacturers to this day have not been able to reproduce wool effectively from artificial fibers. Discerning shoppers will always associate wool with things like sweaters, scarves, hats, and mittens. With hand knit handbags, however, it is not generally known that wool is a viable option. It can hold its own in the pantheon of more famous bag materials like leather and suede.  Can we get the word out about this wonderful fiber?

 

Alpaca

Ono is made from highland Alpaca Wool

The Benefits Of Wool[3]


Resists wrinkles  wool springs back quickly 
Resists soiling  because the fiber is complex 
Is durable  multi-part fiber resists wear 
Repels moisture  fiber sheds water 
Retains shape  resilient fibers return to size 
Resists flames  fibers will not support combustion 
Is comfortable in all seasons  keeps layer of air next to skin