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!!!!! in search of natural clothing - especially winter gear  RSS feed

 
steward
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Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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For Wisconsin winters, nothing beats my shearling coat. It is heavier than the synthetics, but you only notice that when you are hanging it up. The wind just doesn't get through the material, any part of me inside the coat is comfy no matter what. For some reason I don't find it to get uncomfortably warm until it is well over freezing.

Now, my coat has plastic buttons, and the thread contains synthetics, so it's not HUSP perfect, but other than that it is 100% lambskin, sheared wool attached.

Ooh! In my basement I have a crazy warm coat at least 40 years old that is white with chestnut spots made of unsheared sheep and it has wooden toggle buttons. I don't know, some of the stitching is coming apart, maybe that indicates non-synthetic thread. I got it at a London street market in 1987. With the long curly wool, it is actually too warm to wear unless it is really cold.

You know what you could do--you could find a used coat like that, and then hire somebody to take it apart and put it back together with acceptable thread. They wouldn't have to know much beyond how to remove stitches without ruining the little holes, and then have young enough eyes to reuse all those holes! I repaired another leather coat that way, back in my early 20's.
 
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I like the idea of limiting use of petroleum in shipping as an extension. I'd love to grow my own cotton and raise my own wool and try my hand at making my own clothes. I'm still unclear on whether it's still illegal to grow hemp for fiber, which would certainly help.

I'm guessing chain mail is right out the window.
 
Posts: 175
Location: Philomath, OR
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As someone who makes buckskin I would not recommend buckskin for winter clothing, especially in wet winter climates (like western washington). Like cotton it could make an great under layer but it won't provide much protection against a steady cold winter snow/rain.

In Montana I would make clothing out of brain tanned buffalo, bear, sheep, deer, antelope, elk, moose with the hair/wool on and not bucked (listed in order of best to worst for winter). To me these hides are the ultimate almost zero impact winter weather wear. It's also what the native folks of the Montana area wore for winter (Blackfeet, Crow, Flathead, etc.). Here's how to tan furs: http://www.braintan.com/articles/furs/george1.html I've use this method for tanning wool on sheep hides with great success. Ungulate hair (deer, etc.) is difficult to keep on a hide for long periods of time without using a pickling technique like alum salts which isn't water proof. You could then bark tan the pickled hide, but that's a whole other story...

For tanning buffalo: http://www.braintan.com/bison/index.html

Here's a design for a bicycle wool carder: http://www.feltthesun.com/cyclocarder Katharine of Felt the Sun also makes custom garments.

I think felted wool in general would be a great idea for warm/weather proof/durable clothing.
 
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I think that you have to look back a few decades when...

I don't understand what is so difficult about that last plot of land. Our ancestors, hunter gatherers, would have worn leather and furs and wool. Leather and furs that are prepared using standard items such as lye and brain matter from deer to tan hides can be used to make tunics, coats, leggings and pants, as well as footwear. And wool has been around for thousands of years. You may recall some minor mentions of lambs laying down with lions, Moses as a shepherd, just to mention a couple of items. Woolen outerwear especially coats, pants, and ponchos were greatly appreciated by the cowboys, mountain men, trappers, gold miners etc. I could go on and on about these items.

If you decide to go the leather route for outer wear as opposed to the Woolrich/Hudson Bay Company solution, you will need to look into a non-petroleum solution to waterproof and protect both boots, leggins and coat. I used to recall that bee's wax may have been used at the time of the 1800s instead of whale oil, but that is a quick google I would imagine.

If you need picture links start here...
http://www.woolrich.com/woolrich/

http://oregontrailoutfitter.com/index.php?cPath=27

Frankly, both leather and pure wool outfits are expensive when purchased new. I would recommend if you have some time to place an ad in craigslist for either a hudson bay wool blanket or a set of woolrich real wool hunting outfit in red and black plaid. I am sure that there are quite a few out there getting dusty. The blankets are often stuffed into cedar chests and survive across multiple generations in that fashion. My father, now 80 something, still has his woolrich hunting suit purchased back in the 1950s I think.

You can wait for a bright sunny day, wrap your self in a full bath cotton towel, just shy of au naturel. and let us all know how that worked for you...

Enjoy! GM_Man
 
steward
Posts: 3556
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paul wheaton wrote:I think it might turn out to be really easy to have both once you factor in health care. Even if you travel a very expensive path. Is wearing petroleum based clothing making folks sick? granted, most folks are far less concerned about this than i am. So I put this point up for me and those that are like minded.



I think many people forget that skin is actually quite porous and does absorb chemicals. Now, most dyes will leach from clothes and have a chance to end up in the blood stream. I have no idea what the amount might be, but I have a feeling that it just adds up with all the other compounds that we are exposed too all the time.

paul wheaton wrote:I wonder about the possibility of a path where a person is well aligned with permaculture and nature and chooses to avoid the rat race. So, there they are, on land and they desire winter gear. They have lots of time in the winter - being free from the rat race. And lots of passion to live symbiotically with nature. Could such a person create all of their winter gear for no cost? And what they end up with - might they value that more than $5000 if they were still in the rat race? So it kinda seems like, at zero cost - that seems frugal.



When my dad was a kid, my grandma used to make most if not all of their clothing from their land at no cost. Wool, linen, hemp all came from animals or plants they raised. It was done in a very cold climates before, I think it can still be done.

Nobody mentioned felt. Wouldn't felt work well as the outer shell of a down filled insulation layer?
 
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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i like the idea of wool and silk
The kiwis have one called merino mink; wool,silk, possum (if you dont have possum you could substiltute cashmere or angora rabbit)
In 1914 bullet proof vests were manufactured using Wool/silk ,unfortunatly that didnt help Franz Ferdinand who was shot in the head.
Nowdays wool is blended with kevlar for comfortable bullet resistance ,Like da man said its all about layers

The key with wool and itchyness is not to have any fibres over 30 microns most high quality merino should achieve this goal
Short fiber length (a sign of costcutting) will lead to holes and pilling

The finer the fiber the warmer I could send you some wool that is finer than silk!14micron
As a general rule the armies of the 18th centuries that had acess to the finest wool had an advantage


Did anyone mention leaving the fur on the skin?

for river hiking the kiwis also have felt soles on their shoes
 
Jonathan Allen
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As I recall, felt is wool. So, I don't see that as a problem as an insulating layer. Felt as we know it came about hundreds of years ago. Very popular during the Medieval Age being warm even when wet.

Animal skins with the fur left on but turned inside out such that the fur is not exposed to the elements is a great method to keep warm in cold weather.

Also for sleeping on or as a cover in front of a fire.

Enjoy! JA
 
andrew curr
Posts: 288
Location: Deepwater northern New South wales Australia
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Hydroscopic conductivity;; is the term for wool actually warming when wet!
 
Jonathan Allen
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Right... Right... Hydroscopic consulting...

I knew that... Yes I did!




Okay maybe not, but I did know it was warm!
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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I can remember watching something (?) about someone (?) who spent a fair amount of time in the extreme north - perhaps Russia or maybe Himalaya. I know it's vague but as the guy went further north and it got brutally cold, his guides convinced him to give up his expensive synthetic clothing & footwear and switch to wearing what the natives wore which was all animal skins. He knew the skins were superior right away. He was also convinced by the guides that he needed to eat much more meat & animal fat.

I'm hoping to jog someone's memory who remembers more than I do. Anyway, the key things was animal skins - not just animal based fiber.
 
Posts: 397
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Untreated natural 100% alpaca long johns here:

http://store.waitehillfabrics.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=108

Untreated natural Merino long johns here:

http://www.greenmountainorganics.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=18_19

More selection available by special order on this page:

http://www.greenmountainorganics.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=4
 
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For winter footwear, I second the recommendation for brain tanned moccasins. Specifically, sinew stitched. Add a crepe rubber sole and a felted alpaca liner and you've got something very warm, durable, incredibly comfortable and mighty Husp-y, I'd say.

Mine are in the Kainai tradition, leather and pattern-wise anyway. (We also do a urine-cure on the leather, which I don't always mention conversationally when people comment on the colour of Blackfoot natural white hides - but this is Permies, so there you have it. Pee.)

The crepe rubber could definitely be argued against in term of sustainability/regionality these days, considering how far it would have to travel now but, I inherited a couple of very old sheets of it. Last winter was my first experiment with felted alpaca fibre, and while certainly not "traditional", definitely 'toasty'. I tried alpaca because wool of all persuasions -even merino- makes me squirm in an itchily intolerable way. For whatever reason, alpaca does not. A fibre artist friend suggested it could have to do with a lack of lanolin. (In the alpaca. Not me.)

Two caveats with this footwear; sneakiness and grippiness. Factors: high.

They are so quiet outdoors, it is easy to terrify.
They are so adherent indoors, it is easy to stick.

...And squeak, squalch, and peel away with other gummy-type sounds. That mostly seems to happen with commercial flooring though so, while embarrassing for me at the flea market, not likely problematic for you on the range.

A local fibre arts guild could help track down someone to create felt from regional animals. Of the different tribes down your way you'd likely be able to find someone who crafts moccasins in one 'old' way or another.
 
Em Quesnelle
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Oh, and if you do consider going that route:
-you'll probably want to stipulate what the raw alpaca fleece is, or is not, to be washed with.
-you may want to buy the sinew yourself and provide it to your chosen craftsperson, as is not unheard of for people to use dental ribbon floss as a sinew...'substitute'.
 
gardener
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For those of you old enough to remember the 70's, you will remember how many people wore down coats-goose and duck. Well, here in the PNW, people started to realize, those are great for Montana and Colorado where it's negative 5 and dry as a bone. They don't work for wet and 45 degrees, like here.

It seems to me that most of the people to whom I've spoken about really keeping warm knew a lot about different animal's fur: badger, raccoon, etc. Which goes on the inside, which goes on the outside, which repels water, etc. I've heard those conversations but I failed to take notes, but I think that would be a good direction to go in. In terms of HUSP, remember that many Native American tribes historically had people living together in long houses, etc, because togetherness is cozy, while isolation is cold. In more ways than one.
John S
PDX OR
 
Dennis Lanigan
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John Saltveit wrote:
It seems to me that most of the people to whom I've spoken about really keeping warm knew a lot about different animal's fur: badger, raccoon, etc. Which goes on the inside, which goes on the outside, which repels water, etc. I've heard those conversations but I failed to take notes, but I think that would be a good direction to go in.



A raccoon (with a winter coat) will wick water but won't take a heavy soaking (even fur out) if it is brain tanned/oil tanned. And unless you bark tan it the hide will eventually stiffen up unless re-oiled and softened (wearing hides will soften them up of course). I would guess any heavy haired or oily haired creature's fur would repel water: yak, raccoon, bear, bison, sheep, etc.

For fully waterproof leather you need to bark tan it. Here's an article by Miles Olsen about bark tanning: http://milesolson.net/2012/09/22/bark-tan-leather-primitive-waterproof-technology/
I think Miles overstates the waterproofing ability of bark tan, but it does pretty well in my experience. Keeping them oiled and waxed of course helps.

"HUSP" boots were also mentioned. I would look at Inuit boots for inspiration: http://www.amazon.com/Our-Boots-Inuit-Womens-Art/dp/1550541951. Oiled/bark tanned boots would work too.
 
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This family used flax and birch bark--neither of which would be my first choice. In some ways, they seem to lack the preparedness for the life they chose, but they do prove that where there is a will there is a way. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/01/30/russian-family-so-isolated-for-40-years-they-hadnt-even-heard-of-wwii/
 
pollinator
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If you can find a good quality wool blanket, hudson bay especially, a capote would be a very easy and satisfying make...and damn stylish in a fur-trade-era sort of way...

Here's the plans..

http://www.inquiry.net/outdoor/winter/gear/capote.htm



 
pollinator
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This is such a neat thread! Jocelyn, thank you so much for starting it. Galadriel, that was a wonderful video, I found it moving and very inspiring as well.

Jocelyn, I have a whole lot of fleece from my Jacobs that I don't know what to do with. It's not cleaned, or clean at all, but it's good wool. I am a very amateur shearer but I do think it is useable, and there will be more, hopefully better, fleece coming in a few months. You are welcome to as much of it as you think you could put to use.

Perhaps there are some others here who could get involved in the steps required to turn it into garments.
 
Kari Gunnlaugsson
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paul wheaton wrote:
226: I wonder about the possibility of a path where a person is well aligned with permaculture and nature and chooses to avoid the rat race. So, there they are, on land and they desire winter gear. They have lots of time in the winter - being free from the rat race. And lots of passion to live symbiotically with nature. Could such a person create all of their winter gear for no cost? And what they end up with - might they value that more than $5000 if they were still in the rat race? So it kinda seems like, at zero cost - that seems frugal.



I must be living wrong. Not enough permaculture maybe. To be fair I blow some hours in front of the screen while I'm warming myself up...but I'd take the rat-race over homesteading any day for all of that free time in the winter

I think a community of people who knew what they were doing could pull this off. A 'self-sufficient rugged individual' would be completely overwhelmed. It's also a bit of a chicken or the egg thing...he'd better have his winter gear made and ready way before winter happens.

A single buffalo robe was supposed to set a family back 80 hours of work.
 
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Kari Gunnlaugsson wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:
226: I wonder about the possibility of a path where a person is well aligned with permaculture and nature and chooses to avoid the rat race. So, there they are, on land and they desire winter gear. They have lots of time in the winter - being free from the rat race. And lots of passion to live symbiotically with nature. Could such a person create all of their winter gear for no cost? And what they end up with - might they value that more than $5000 if they were still in the rat race? So it kinda seems like, at zero cost - that seems frugal.


A single buffalo robe was supposed to set a family back 80 hours of work.



I thought it was more than that. If you look at what settlers and trappers spent on tools and clothes it was a serious investment, possibly man-years of work. Paul's 5k was on the low side.
 
steward
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When I worked with the Antarctic Research Program, their issue parkas had wolverine fur lined hoods.
The reason was that as you exhale through it, it would not frost up from the moisture in your breath.
For that one reason, it was chosen above other pelts.

 
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I live in Saskatchewan, so I know about cold weather. One of my favorite winter coats was a wool felt jacket. The wool was actually quite scratchy, but it didn't matter, because it was lined (pretty sure that particular jacket had a synthetic lining, but silk was traditional). I have a feeling that you would want coarser wool for outerwear, to make it more durable. If I were shooting for local and natural, I would be thinking of a wool felt jacket, with perhaps a tightly-woven linen lining? I doubt there are many linen mills around any more, but flax should grow fine in your area - it is a common crop here, and our conditions are harsher.

I have a couple of alpacas, and they do well in SK. I plan to felt some of their wool to make a felt jacket for myself, but I haven't started any aspect of that project yet, so I can't say how it would all work.

About notions - you can make buttons out of horn or wood easily enough.
 
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http://www.notechmagazine.com/2013/01/caribou-skin-clothing-beats-high-tech-expedition-clothing.html

This article is about caribou skin clothing. They compared it to high tech expedition clothing and the old tech beat new tech.

Check out low tech and no tech magazine. They have lots on nice articles.

Paul
 
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Hi Jocelyn, I find a combo of wool and leather to be the best for winter wear. With possible under layers of cotton/silk/thinner wool/etc. For naturally tanned leather you have 2 real options - buckskin (braintanned) or barktanned leather. check this bark tan stuff out:

https://www.etsy.com/people/SmokinHides?ref=si_pr

Bark tanned leather is going to be more water resistant than buckskin. Both buckskin and leather are extremely good at blocking wind. sometimes wool (esp. unfelted) can let the wind in a bit too much for me
 
janette cormier
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oh, also... for winter foot wear i find bark tan is best because it can be heavily oiled which will give you much more water resistance than buckskin or felt.
 
janette cormier
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check out this awesome winter clothing for the far north

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151619698464017.470211.245051089016&type=1
 
steward
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Janette, those are excellent links - thank you! Bookmarking and will follow up when I can...
 
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Bobby Clark Jr wrote:I like Bamboo for comfort. It feels like silk/cashmere. I used to sell the fiber for hand spinners, also t shirts but my supplier sold out to another company. I am wearing a t shirt right now that is made from 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton. The bamboo is organic also as there are no chemicals used for growing it.



When you buy "bamboo" fabric, you are actually buying rayon. They call it bamboo because the cellulose used in the process originally came from bamboo, but it could just as well have come from cottonwood and you couldn't tell the difference. The process is basically to dissolve the cellulose first in lye and then carbon disulfide. This turns the cellulose into a slime, and then that is extruded in to thread/yarn/etc.

In short, I don't think bamboo fabric qualifies as natural clothing in any way.
 
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Something I'd like to explore further is using cottonwood cotton for clothing. I've spun some, and it makes a nice yarn, but I've never made enough to make any actual clothing from it. It has the advantage of being a perennial tree-based fiber, and it might make a good substitute for regular cotton. Has anyone else ever tried it in a garment?
 
steward
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One year , while hiking in the mountains, we ran across these folks. They were spending the summer living as Mountain men. They had it down !
scan0020.jpg
[Thumbnail for scan0020.jpg]
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
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awesome picture Miles. Do you know a bit of their story?
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
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Not really. There is a pretty large "mountain man reenactment " community in Wyoming. I believe they were part of that. If you have any rendezvous in your area you should really check it out.
 
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A clothing designer I know got all excited telling me about waxed denim. Although this is sold on the bolt, I'm sure one could take some favorite denim outer-wear and wax it after-the-fact.

Pockets of air is what one needs to help insulate, so lots of layers is preferable. However, in extreme conditions I suppose having a really heat-trapping sweater would be useful. Of all my sweaters, the one I can't tolerate because it's too damn hot is pure cashmere. It's lightweight, ultra soft, and way too warm.

Also, raw wool is the way to go. I have a book on traditional fisherman's sweaters and all the history & lore that go along with them. They were knit on super small needles with raw wool (the lanolin left in). These would get wet of course, but shed the water due to the lanolin yet felt on the body of the wearer becoming dense and impermeable to the weather. They were not washed, so as to preserve the lanolin.

You can also take old wool sweaters, felt them, and cut them into inserts for your boots to keep your feet extra dry and warm.
 
                                                
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So great to see others interested in this topic!

We are on our own personal mission to handcraft our own fully compostable wardrobes as well and it seems like the way to go is to create it all on your own. Acquire the skills to do it: learn to knit, crochet, felt, spin, weave, tan leather, etc. We have most of the skills down, now just need the network of gathering organic materials which is the hard part of the job, especially here in Hungary. My husband has even gone so far as to make his own rope soled shoes, our daughter wears rope sandals, but mostly we are barefoot, even in the winter unless we have to spend longer than a few minutes outside. Earthing has been a great minimalist addition to our wardrobe, but this winter we are also seeking to make our own leather shoes. We have been able to source a couple of organic steer hides (harvest will be late in the year), so for now it looks like felt will be covering our feet in early winter... We are actively seeking people interested in the same - creating their own natural wardrobes, to form an intentional community in the sunny plains here, consciousness just needs to rise a little bit first.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Cheryl and Roland - welcome to the forums! Would love to see pics of some of your handcrafts. Nice website, too.
 
                                                
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Thanks for checking it out! We are just about to fire up the loom again (haven't used it for almost three years on account of our daughter ready to turn, well, three) and make cloth for pants. We will definitely post pictures of our progress.

In the meanwhile here are two of our wwoof-ers modeling our hats felted from the Hungarian Racka and cigája sheep wool:

and a little weaving with handspun yarn (racka with flax warp):


All of our daughter's clothing has been handmade by us parents from organic materials since her birth, it is about time we finish up on ours!
 
Tom OHern
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For winter footwear, you can't beat Traditional Mukluks. Here is how to make them: http://www.skillsforwildlives.com/2010/02/making-traditional-mukluks/

For the liners, I found a heavy 100% wool sweater at the thrift shop for a about $5, felted it in my washing machine, and adapted a Sweater Slipper Sock Pattern.

I use mine when I go snowshoeing and I love them!
 
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Fabrizia Annunziata wrote:Here's a beautiful sustainable cashmere goat farm in Tuscany.

Chianti Cashmere Goat Farm



Wonderful website, thanks for sharing.
 
Marko Spain
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Cheryl and Roland Magyar wrote:Thanks for checking it out! We are just about to fire up the loom again (haven't used it for almost three years on account of our daughter ready to turn, well, three) and make cloth for pants. We will definitely post pictures of our progress.

In the meanwhile here are two of our wwoof-ers modeling our hats felted from the Hungarian Racka and cigája sheep wool:


and a little weaving with handspun yarn (racka with flax warp):


All of our daughter's clothing has been handmade by us parents from organic materials since her birth, it is about time we finish up on ours!



LOVE the pics, the clothes look great!
 
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Bobby Clark Jr wrote:I like Bamboo for comfort. It feels like silk/cashmere. I used to sell the fiber for hand spinners, also t shirts but my supplier sold out to another company. I am wearing a t shirt right now that is made from 70% bamboo and 30% organic cotton. The bamboo is organic also as there are no chemicals used for growing it. Also, it is not the bamboo that the pandas eat so we are not wearing their breakfast! Just Google bamboo cloths or better www.duckduckgo.com they do not track you like Google.



A lot of people enjoy bamboo fibers, and they do have a 'silky hand', like rayon. Which makes sense, since the
majority of bamboo fiber, textiles, and garments are basically the same as viscose rayon - a synthetic fiber produced
from cellulose, in this case from bamboo, instead of trees. An improvement for certain, but hardly 'natural'.

The small percentage of bamboo fiber that is mechanically processed and is a 'bast' type fiber, like linen (from flax)
and hemp, and has a similar feel. Nice, but not as 'silky' and drapey as the viscose chemical-processed bamboo
textiles. It all seems a lot like the CFL thing to me; the reality just does not match the 'sustainable' hype:

http://www.ecouterre.com/how-eco-friendly-is-bamboo-fabric-really/

To me, cashmere has a totally different feel, rather 'fuzzy soft' with a hand (feel) more like a very soft cotton, than
the smoother feel of silk, or viscose rayon/bamboo. If cashmere is of reasonable quality, it will be fine and soft, and
free of thicker fibers that can itch - but it does not hold up well to wear. Each fiber, from the wooly undercoat of goats,
is very short, which adds to the delicacy of garmets made from it.

It's WONDERFUL to see this aspect of human impact on the environment getting some attention!!! We have a multi-species
farm, but our centerpiece is a high-quality herd of alpacas, alpacas that produce the legendary 'fiber of the gods'. (Like
any other natural product, there are variations, and sadly much of the alpaca fiber available does not live up to the hype,
either.)
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