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Vegan friendly warm and natural textiles - a big oldfashioned brainstorming thread  RSS feed

 
r ranson
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Let's have a great big brainstorming thread of plant-based, earth friendly, textiles using the vegan standard (not using an animal product) and my rather opinionated standard of what an earth friendly textile is.

Earth friendly textile for the purposes of this conversation is one that takes: low energy, low pollutants, zero agricultural chemical inputs... &c. So basically nylon, rayon, and all the semi-synthetics are out. That goes double for rayons pretending to be eco-friendly like bamboo and soy silks. Regular cotton also doesn't pass muster, but organic cotton does.

To make it even more challenging, let's talk about warmth. There are some pretty chilly winters in the world, and a vegan living there has to keep warm somehow. How can they do it naturally and remain true to their values?

As for second-hand clothes... I don't know about that. My vegan friends won't buy second-hand wool or leather, so let's stay consistent (for the purposes of this thought exercise) and apply this same standard to "Earth friendly". In the interests of consistency, second-hand industrial cotton would be unacceptable.


The goal is to stay positive!

It's not an arbitrary question, I do have a real life friend struggling to find winter clothing (for a Canadian, proper winter, not like the ones I get here) that fits with her values of eco-friendly and vegan. Let's see if we can find some solutions for her.


 
r ranson
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I'm imagining a three layer system plus coat.

Linen next to the skin as its one of the best textiles for letting the skin breath as well as having the ability to moderate temperature (it feels warm when it's cool and cool when it's warm).

Next layer would be a knit organic cotton as it captures the air and insulates.

Finally a tightly woven hemp sweater/hoodie to reduce drafts.

Maybe some sort of oil cloth coat to keep the snow and wind out?

This getup would be rather heavy for the amount of warmth it provides.

That only does the top, so I don't know about the bottom... also would it be enough in a cold winter?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm wondering about a linen or other plant fiber quilted garment with oilcloth or waxed cloth as the outer layer. There are various wax-producing plants. Cattail fluff or cotton could be the insulating layer between fabric layers.

 
r ranson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I'm wondering about a linen or other plant fiber quilted garment with oilcloth or waxed cloth as the outer layer. There are various wax-producing plants. Cattail fluff or cotton could be the insulating layer between fabric layers.



I love it! I hadn't thought about quilting.
 
r ranson
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One idea that came up was boro, Japanese traditional farm clothing which is simple to make (lots of rectangles) and is often patched in a beautiful way to make it longer wearing and warmer. There is a special, decorative stitch for patching, that can be simple or complicated, and adds strength to the fabric.

There is also a technique of shredding the old clothing then weaving it to make new cloth, which is much warmer than the original.

pictures borrowed from here




If it was done tastefully, I think it would be quite acceptable for city living. A little bit shabby chic.


contemporary boro



If she started with responsibly made cotton cloth, then a coat like this would last decades and grow warmer with every patch.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Here's one of my favorite textile artists who works with scraps: http://spiritcloth.typepad.com/


I'm very interested in textile art and art clothing, so I'm enjoying this thread. I know the focus is primarily practical, but, I like to think a permaculture life will have lots of art in it!
 
r ranson
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I love spirit cloth. Thanks for the link. That stuff is gorgeous.

Her coats are amazing, but I wonder if I would feel self-conscious wearing something like that in town. I bet they are lovely and warm.

 
Deb Rebel
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TWO layers of cotton quilting (cotton batting sandwiched by two layers of cotton fabric) and a hard outer shell of very finely and stiffly woven canvas or denim (to be the windbreak layer) and a cotton flannel liner, the middle has to float as much as possible inside the shell, will do wonders. Make sure the neck can be fastened high, and that the coat goes longer than your heinder and has a bottom drawstring to bring it in, works (experience here). And add a few inner layers.

I eat vegan for medical reasons but I am not a 'full vegan' in that I'd eat meat if I could. So I do use leather and I do wear wool. My coat has a bulky wool knit layer I can remove during spring and fall and add during the worst cold. Look for a cotton or linen or blend yarn, knit an inner shell in a bulky and not too loose knitting pattern, and don that with your coat during the coldest. Dress layers. Think layers. If you will use silk, that is the next warmest fiber there is, warmth without weight. I collect every silk shirt, skirt, slacks I can find at the thrift store (and yes they do get 100% silk stuff) and rework them into inner liners.

Look to the Sulky quilting project stuff if you want ideas (though a lot of theirs uses specialty products, there's a lot of inspiration there) on how to make colorful and 'patches' look fashionable. You can make Boro and patches look runway, and be in style anywhere.
 
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Question where does silk fall in these rules? I am guessing it is a NO but not sure.

Another issue if hard core is where does the dye that colors the fabric come from? Many have animal or insect bases.

Beyond that linen and cotton are the most common answers. For reason of warmth and durability long fiber linen would be preferred but it is not common as it is mostly made by hand. Modern machine made linen mostly chops the fibers in short pieces before making the thread with them because the process is far easier to automate. In the US imported hemp is another possible answer.

If they want to experiment another fiber that might be a good choice for fill is milk weed seed pod floss. It was used in WWII life vests because it was extremely bouyant. It is bouyant because the fiber is hollow and light weight. The bit I have done with it shows it packs together and looses loft for me when used as fill but maybe someone else would have better luck.
 
r ranson
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Silks a no-go for her. It's an animal product. Even though it is possible to harvest the silk without harming the worms, it still falls outside her definition of vegan (like wool).


Another issue if hard core is where does the dye that colors the fabric come from? Many have animal or insect bases.


This is a great question - I'll be sure to mention it.

Bright British army red and some purples are about the only natural dyes that need animals. So long as it's not a vibrant colour, most can be achieved from plant or mineral sources.


Linen is one of my favourite textiles, but it has the big problem of not being warm. There is some really good linen coming out of Eastern Europe these days, as well as the traditional Western Europe countries, but not much in Canada. Not too difficult to grow, however, but would take her a year or so to get her skills up for working with it. The tow makes nice filler too.

Hemp is a little bit warmer but usually heavier for it. Cotton is great but not grown local to her... sigh. It really is a brain teaser.


Milkweed seed pods, eh? I wonder... I don't know if we have these where I am, but they might be where she is. I wonder if it can be spun like cotton.
 
Lina Joana
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Yowza. Not asking for much, are ya?
Is she open to making stuff herself? if so, I'd suggest a jacked stuffed with milkweed down - http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/make-a-jacket-milkweed-seed-zmaz79sozraw.aspx My sister is stuffing a quilt with it and while it is a messy process, it does maintain good loft so far. It can also be spun, but spinning it alone makes a pretty weak thread - I've always added it to wool, which is out of bounds for this discussion.
There are two major challenges here: 1) creating enough dead air spaces to trap heat. Wool does this naturally due to its structure - look under a microscope, and you'll see tons of overlapping scales, all of which trap air. Plant fibers don't have that. 2) Moisture. If your friend does ANY kind of physical activity in the winter (even just shoveling the walk) she will sweat.

My thoughts for solutions:
1) Seems like a combination of layering and quilting is the best bet - and you'd want each layer to be pretty thin. So for the really cold times, a thick cotton sweater is out - the amount of warmth you get vs the weight it adds would make it not worth it. I'd say layers of flannel, some of them quilted with a thin layer fluffy stuff in between. Milkweed, cattail, even cotton batting might do. Look for things with loft - you want something that springs back when compressed and released. And of course, a thick stuffed jacket as an outer layer.

2) Moisture. This is a serious problem. I took a wilderness trekking class recently, and their motto for cold weather was "cotton kills". When it gets wet, all the air spaces it has fill up with water, which nestle up against your skin and suck out your body heat. Discomfort at best, hypothermia and death at worst. So for the layers near the skin (and I'm assuming silk is out) linen is probably the best. It is better at wicking than cotton, so it keeps you dry. The fibers are also hollow, so it is slightly better at staying warm when damp.

Now, what about the bottom half? We've all been talking about jackets and shirts - but in really cold weather, I wear a layer of silk or wool under my jeans. And if she is giving up the warmest options for her top half, she might make up some of the loss by layering more on the legs. I guess cotton leggings would be ok. Maybe linen, if you can find a thin knit, but that is harder to come by. High boots. Maybe a thick skirt over the jeans - I know people who can pull that off fashonwise, and jeans would be more wind resistant than just a leggings under a skirt.

Indoors is another thing to think about - I'm sure your friend wants to keep the heat as low as possible. Since wind isn't an issue, leggings and skirt might be warmer than most pants. and for the upper half, layers should be fine. Again, more thin layers will give you more warmth for the weight than fewer thick ones.


So - it might work. Honestly though, it is a tough road to hoe - in the end she might be better off buying really high quality synthetic and taking really good care of it to make it last forever. All the stuff mentioned might work, but some of it depends on whether she tends to feel cold or warm in general.

Makes me thankful I'm ok wearing wool...

 
Deb Rebel
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Cover the head, cover the feet, that helps.

The Inuit, look up their traditional coat. It keeps the heat in, but you can flop the hood back and open the top fastenings and dump body heat if you need to. Folkwear had a pattern for one even, don't know if you can get anymore.

It's amazing how much heat your head radiates, keeping a stocking cap on in cooler temps, even in the house, will make a big difference. When going outside, scarfing your neck (chin to onto shoulders area) also really helps with holding in that heat. In hand covers make sure especially that the backs of your hands are covered with windproof material. (a roomie's mom knitted me wool mittens and in Minnesota winters the wind went RIGHT through them. I laboriously took a dull point yarn needle and a double strand of yarn, and darned through, tripling the loops across the backs of the hands from wrist to knuckles and it made them SOOO much warmer as the wind could no longer cut through). S

Socks or at least when sitting, a 'foot blanket' to wrap around or stick your feet into will help a lot too. Don't be afraid to do a few layers of socks.... a fine knit next to skin and a coarser bulky to make insulation between that and the outside world (shoes or whatever)
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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This is one of my favourite subjects!
Although I am not vegan, I like the challenge: do not use any animal product. Last winter we had this question in our group Permanet (NL). Quilting with cotton or linen, or both combined, was one of the suggestions. I knitted a sweater in cotton-linen yarn, together with torn stripes of used cotton bed-sheets (multicolored), in a knitting technique with loops at the inside. These loops work as an insulating layer (see photo). But this knitwear alone is not warm, because the wind can blow through ... A singlet or T-shirt under it and a warm coat over it are a must.
The coat is the problem, here in the Netherlands: it has to be really rain-proof! I don't know if a waxed tightly-woven canvas would withstand the Dutch rain ... It is told the German army in the First World War used fabric made of stinging nettles for their uniforms. It seems that nettle fabric was strong and wind resistant. But how to make that fabric
I think making pants, trouses or however you call them, of a double layer of linnen or cotton is OK. Maybe wearing knitted tights or long stockings (linen, cotton, nettle fiber) as an extra layer.

For the feet the best solution is what the Netherlands (Holland) is famous for: wooden shoes (made of willow or poplar wood)! In the past poor people wore them with straw or hay inside (or instead of) the stockings. They are very insulating and waterproof.

Photo of me wearing my 'vegan-recycling knitted sweater'
 
Tyler Ludens
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Beautiful work!
 
R Scott
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The Chinese had very effective warm layers using minimal materials from the peasant farmers written in farmers of forty centuries up to the Korean war, good descriptions can be found online but are similar to what has been mentioned. Simple quilted coat with tight outer weave and a wrapped front with belt to adjust heat like the Inuit coat but a shorter length for maneuverability.

Maybe this is really why many hard core vegans move to the tropics. It isn't to get the fruit local, it is to not need clothes...
 
r ranson
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These have been some great suggestions.

When my friend first approached me, I was thrilled that she was finally thinking about textiles - it's a big thing in my life, I want everyone to think about the ecological impact of their clothing, I obsess over it, it keeps me up at night. I was super happy to help.

The thing is, I don't really know what a real winter is like. There are places where you have to stay inside because it's so cold. The last time it snowed here, I forgot to put socks on before shoveling the driveway in my unlined boots. No frost bite, thankfully, but I did manage some pretty wicked chilblains by warming my toes up too fast.

I had no idea it was going to be so difficult thinking up things she could wear. We are grateful you guys are helping us out with this.


She's starting to realize that to meet her goals she will have to start making her own clothing, which is a bit of a downer because she won't be able to transform her wardrobe in the 6 months she had set for herself. We're looking at closer to two years here, which makes it difficult to maintain momentum.

One thought was that maybe there was a market for this kind of clothing? If the quality matched the price, I think there would be interest in plant-based, nonsynthetic, eco-friendly, non-slave labour, natural clothing. It would probably have a fairly high price tag, but I think if the quality was good, and it matched the values of people like my friend here, I think it would be very popular.
 
R Scott
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Look for people that make clothes for reinactors. They have the skills for working with the fabrics in question and one should be able to work with her for sourcing materials.
 
Deb Rebel
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R Scott wrote:Look for people that make clothes for reinactors. They have the skills for working with the fabrics in question and one should be able to work with her for sourcing materials.


Holds up hand. I used to. Whatcha want?

She could get it done in six months if she's not doing full time job or full time mom or both.

Cold is where I grew up, 7.5 foot frost line, (permafrost is 9 to 10) and -40 common for winters (both scales agree there) and -200f windchill (it can happen and you don't know cold until it's -40 to -45f and wind of 40-50 mph). In that situation it was multilayers, wool, silk at the skin, goose down, and canvas parka surface with waterproofing; what we called snow-boots (snowmobile boots with felt liners), wool socks, your face is covered, you have eyes covered, and you have two layers of gloves, silk inner and wool or shearling lined leather on the outside.

Thinking of how to vegan-ize that winter gear, that would NOT be easy.

These guys are a bit pricy and you have to have an account with them, I've been with them for quite a while: http://ulsterlinen.com/linen_fabric.htm
These are run of mill but usually have suitable for SCA and rendevouzers https://www.fabric.com/apparel-fashion-fabric-linen-fabric.aspx?page=1
There's one other place I can't find in my history right now that have good linen, I'll edit and add it later.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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R Ranson wrote:.... The thing is, I don't really know what a real winter is like. There are places where you have to stay inside because it's so cold. ....
....
She's starting to realize that to meet her goals she will have to start making her own clothing, which is a bit of a downer because she won't be able to transform her wardrobe in the 6 months she had set for herself. We're looking at closer to two years here, which makes it difficult to maintain momentum.

One thought was that maybe there was a market for this kind of clothing? If the quality matched the price, I think there would be interest in plant-based, nonsynthetic, eco-friendly, non-slave labour, natural clothing. It would probably have a fairly high price tag, but I think if the quality was good, and it matched the values of people like my friend here, I think it would be very popular.

That, the market for such clothes, was an important reason for me to start Permanet (NL). In my opinion Permies (and other people who don't know yet they are 'Permies') would prefer to use all natural stuff, not only for food and in the garden, but for everything. So they'd need all natural clothes and other textiles. The materials for these textiles can be products of permaculture: plant and animal fibers. The aim of Permanet (NL) is to get a group together of people who produce the fibers, who can transform fibers into materials / fabrics, who can make these materials into clothes and other useful products, and those who want to buy these products. In fact, in a 'real permaculture world', these are not different divisions of people, but one group: Permies. The reason why the (NL) is behind the name is: such groups need to be local! Transporting materials and products over long distances is not part of permaculture! So my group is only for the Netherlands (and the part of Belgium where the same language is spoken).
It is on some ways like Fibershed, but there are some differences too.

About winters ... In different countries winters can be very different! Here in western Europe, close to the North Sea, winters are not very cold (only a little freezing), but they are wet. When rain falls and the temperature is around the freezing point ... that's terrible!
In countries more in-land (far from the sea), winters are dry with a lot of snow. Everything is under a thick layer of snow, like a blanket. But on sunny days in a sunny place, it can feel nice. When you have good watertight boots, it's OK there.
Some countries have long winters, even 6 months, other winters are only 1 or 2 months. The countries with long winters often have very short spring and fall seasons, it's mainly winter and summer there. Here in the Netherlands both winter and summer are short, we have a very long spring season. And here the seasons are not reliable ... one year it can be freezing and snowing for several months, another year it's no freezing and rain lasting all winter and spring and even in the summer ...
 
Becky Proske
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R Ranson wrote:
One thought was that maybe there was a market for this kind of clothing? If the quality matched the price, I think there would be interest in plant-based, nonsynthetic, eco-friendly, non-slave labour, natural clothing. It would probably have a fairly high price tag, but I think if the quality was good, and it matched the values of people like my friend here, I think it would be very popular.


Gaia Conceptions
Cehck them out if you have not heard of Gaia Conceptions. They are already on this path and might offer something of interest. They source fabric according to such values and provide options for plant based dyes or low impact dyes. The array of designs and choices for customizing a wardrobe is wonderfully overwhelming. I am a big fan of their hemp/cotton fleece knit during the winter. The fabric washes and wears really well. It is not impossible to save on price. Watch for coupon codes or search for second-hand Gaia garments on eBay.

A long fleece skirt over leggings with tall boots and leg warmers has been my favorite way to layering in winter. This will also include a pair of jeans or insulated pants when I need to go outside for a short time in below zero weather. I find this sort of layering to be the most comfortable (I do include wool). A large square cotton scarf has also been a favorite to have on hand when indoors. I second the suggestion of keeping the head covered, even indoors. It will help hold the heat in. I am hardly without a loose fitting knit hat on my head during the winter, (even when I sleep). I also like using arm warmers because I suffer from poor circulation.

A good way to stay warm is with movement. Choose garments in sizes that allow for flexibility when layering.

I've been searching for winter footwear that aligns more with my values. This lead to an interest in what indigenous people of the north have traditionally used and I discovered the mukluk. They are typically made with leather and/or fur, but maybe a vegan-friendly version could be created by hand if one is ambitious enough. The key idea again is to allow for natural flex and movement of the foot to help keep the toes warm with allowance for layers. This goes for the fingers as well. I find it far better to wear mittens verses gloves. But when it gets really cold I will layer mittens over gloves.

I hope this offers some helpful thoughts.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Becky Proske wrote:....
A long fleece skirt over leggings with tall boots and leg warmers has been my favorite way to layering in winter. This will also include a pair of jeans or insulated pants when I need to go outside for a short time in below zero weather. I find this sort of layering to be the most comfortable (I do include wool). A large square cotton scarf has also been a favorite to have on hand when indoors. I second the suggestion of keeping the head covered, even indoors. It will help hold the heat in. I am hardly without a loose fitting knit hat on my head during the winter, (even when I sleep). I also like using arm warmers because I suffer from poor circulation.

A good way to stay warm is with movement. Choose garments in sizes that allow for flexibility when layering.

I've been searching for winter footwear that aligns more with my values. This lead to an interest in what indigenous people of the north have traditionally used and I discovered the mukluk. They are typically made with leather and/or fur, but maybe a vegan-friendly version could be created by hand if one is ambitious enough. The key idea again is to allow for natural flex and movement of the foot to help keep the toes warm with allowance for layers. This goes for the fingers as well. I find it far better to wear mittens verses gloves. But when it gets really cold I will layer mittens over gloves.
.....


I think now of the kind of shoes the people from Northern Europe (Norway, Finland, Northern Russia) used to wear in the past. Those were made of birch bark, so that is non-animal material. I googled a photo:

I agree about the layering, wearing a warm skirt over pants, leggings or tights. And the flexibility, not only to make movement easy, but also the extra layers of air trapped betrween the layers give more insulation.
Wearing hats, scarfs, mittens, etc. is so obvious when you live in cold regions ... I forgot to mention it.
 
K Putnam
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It's an interesting thought exercise.

Reverse engineering things for a second, why do animal fibers work so well? Loft. Mule spun and woolen spun yarns create lovely, warm garments because the strands of yarns are plied together to create loft. Then you (or a machine) knits that, adding more loft.

Knitting with cotton or linen or bamboo is a completely different experience. The stitches knit flat and rather than hold the loft, the garments are more likely to stretch out vertically. The fact they don't hold air in is why they are great for summer, not Canadian winter.

So, how do you get loft from a vegan product? Some kind of vegan insulation?

http://www.ecouterre.com/cocona-vegan-friendly-outerwear-insulation-made-from-coconut-husks/ This looks like it might check a lot of the boxes. The article is five years old but might be worth some follow up.

http://girliegirlarmy.com/style/20141017/15-eco-vegan-winter-coats-we-cant-wait-to-wear/ Here are some more coat ideas, though I'm pretty sure some of those won't meet all the standards. But might lead to some rabbit holes to go down.
 
Jessie Twinn
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An interesting thread!

I wondered where gleaned animal products that don't harm or even involve animals working for people would fit. Feathers are shed by birds and would make for a warm jacket lining. If they are picked up whenever they are found would that push the boundaries too much?

Nettle is another plant fibre too. Ramie cotton.

As for oilskin, it would depend upon the oils used. I've read of a recipe that uses linseed and beeswax which I would assume would not fit vegan values.
 
Tyler Ludens
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K Putnam wrote:
So, how do you get loft from a vegan product? Some kind of vegan insulation?


I think the most effective method, which folks have mentioned, is layering - this produces multiple air spaces. It's the air which produces the insulating effect. So a vegan outfit for cold weather might be more bulky, because needing more layers, but on the other hand might be more versatile, because only as many layers as needed would be donned for the particular conditions.
 
r ranson
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Jessie Twinn wrote:

I wondered where gleaned animal products that don't harm or even involve animals working for people would fit. Feathers are shed by birds and would make for a warm jacket lining. If they are picked up whenever they are found would that push the boundaries too much?



I talked with her about this, and she says it doesn't fit with her understanding of veganism.

It's a really interesting idea. It would be fun to investigate this in a new thread.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jessie Twinn wrote:An interesting thread!
I wondered where gleaned animal products that don't harm or even involve animals working for people would fit. Feathers are shed by birds and would make for a warm jacket lining. If they are picked up whenever they are found would that push the boundaries too much? ....

Sorry Jessie, but the insulating 'down' is not the same as ordinary 'feathers'. It's only the 'undercoat' of certain birds (some ducks and geese). The down has to be plucked from the bird, it doesn't just fall off. In some northern regions down is gathered (stolen) from ducks' nests. Most down is from killed birds. So this is not at all 'vegan', nor 'vegetarian'.
 
Jessie Twinn
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:
Jessie Twinn wrote:An interesting thread!
I wondered where gleaned animal products that don't harm or even involve animals working for people would fit. Feathers are shed by birds and would make for a warm jacket lining. If they are picked up whenever they are found would that push the boundaries too much? ....

Sorry Jessie, but the insulating 'down' is not the same as ordinary 'feathers'. It's only the 'undercoat' of certain birds (some ducks and geese). The down has to be plucked from the bird, it doesn't just fall off. In some northern regions down is gathered (stolen) from ducks' nests. Most down is from killed birds. So this is not at all 'vegan', nor 'vegetarian'.


I know there is a difference between down and feathers but I know that feathers are often used in doonas/duvets, hence the thought.
 
S Tonin
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I'll admit, I haven't done any research at all on this (past a cursory google search) before suggesting it, but what about the fabric made from pressed Tinder Polypore/ Fomes fomentarius mushroom? I know it can be used to make hats and bags, but I don't know how durable, warm, or water-resistant it is. Seems like it could be a good substitute for wool felt or suede leather. (Sorry for the lack of any meaningful information; I have no first-hand experience to share.)
 
r ranson
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S Tonin wrote:I'll admit, I haven't done any research at all on this (past a cursory google search) before suggesting it, but what about the fabric made from pressed Tinder Polypore/ Fomes fomentarius mushroom? I know it can be used to make hats and bags, but I don't know how durable, warm, or water-resistant it is. Seems like it could be a good substitute for wool felt or suede leather. (Sorry for the lack of any meaningful information; I have no first-hand experience to share.)


We've been looking into this too. It certainly seems to fit the vegan part of it, but we haven't yet discovered how energy and resource intense it is to make.


In other news, I discovered The Backyard Project


Although not local to my friend, she likes the idea of a sweater that is grown, processed and sewn within a 150-mile radius (instead of traveling to 5 or 10 countries before arriving at our homes). I like this idea too. My hoodie is a bit threadbare... okay, it's beyond patchability, but not bad for 5 years of daily use - still, I need a new one and I think I'll save up for one of these. It also uses (and therefore supports) Sally Fox's Cotton. Sally Fox breeds coloured cotton that grows well in an organic setting


It's encouraging to see something like this... now, if only it would catch on.
 
S Tonin
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Another thing I was thinking of that's probably way too out there and definitely not streetwear: Japanese Mino, the big straw capes you see in samurai movies. I've tried googling how they're made before, but haven't found much about the construction methods past "they weave a bunch of rice straw into a thing." Straw snow boots called fukagutsu (somewhat similar to the birch bark shoes mentioned by Inge Leonora-den Ouden earlier) are a thing, too. Neither would be very practical in an urban setting but, as outerwear for farm work, they'd work really well. Actually finding them outside of a museum might be a challenge, but hey, maybe there's a new cottage industry just waiting to spring up.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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The time is ripe now, it seems, to change the total concept of 'clothing' and 'fashion' Old techniques can have their come-back in new styles and shapes. Like the straw-cape idea S Tonin mentioned. We (Permies) can be the 'trend-setters' (but of course this is not a 'trend' but a development!).

We have to consider what materials can grow and be produced in the region we live in. So for me there is no cotton available . If I were a vegan I'd have to do a lot of efforts, contact permaculture growers of flax, nettles and hemp and learn how to make those into fibers and products. Because I am not a vegan I have my choice of wool, the best material for the climate here.
 
Lori Ziemba
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Cold is where I grew up, 7.5 foot frost line, (permafrost is 9 to 10) and -40 common for winters (both scales agree there) and -200f windchill (it can happen and you don't know cold until it's -40 to -45f and wind of 40-50 mph). In that situation it was multilayers, wool, silk at the skin, goose down, and canvas parka surface with waterproofing; what we called snow-boots (snowmobile boots with felt liners), wool socks, your face is covered, you have eyes covered, and you have two layers of gloves, silk inner and wool or shearling lined leather on the outside.



Where did you grow up?  Mars  
 
Deb Rebel
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Lori Ziemba wrote:


Cold is where I grew up, 7.5 foot frost line, (permafrost is 9 to 10) and -40 common for winters (both scales agree there) and -200f windchill (it can happen and you don't know cold until it's -40 to -45f and wind of 40-50 mph). In that situation it was multilayers, wool, silk at the skin, goose down, and canvas parka surface with waterproofing; what we called snow-boots (snowmobile boots with felt liners), wool socks, your face is covered, you have eyes covered, and you have two layers of gloves, silk inner and wool or shearling lined leather on the outside.



Where did you grow up?  Mars  


Mars might have been prettier, along the Canadian border near a glacier river valley. At the time I lived there, the cold and ugly track went right through there and it got COLD and the winter nights were long and dark. Wonderful northern lights, usually quite faint but seen them a lot. The zone was upgraded in the last reshuffle to borderline 3a/3b.

One year we went Juneberry picking on 4th of July weekend and found snow in some of the deep roadcuts yet (mid 1960's) and had a snowball fight, more than a little snow was left. Basements were dug to 9' so the floor was below heave, and at the corner bottom edge of a basement wall was where your sewer line was dug to make it easier to get to. In the winter the north basement wall (poured concrete) would get frost. That year the frost didn't leave all the way down, it stayed at the lower edge, a band you could feel. At just over 9' down, the sewer almost froze that winter and almost the next too. The winter after the snowball fight in mid summer, we got the settler blizzard (look at the ones Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about) of 3 1/2 days of horizontal white, highs of -35f and Dad had to put some big nail spikes in the roof, tie off to them with a rope and shovel the snow off a 60 degree roof every 8-12 hours or the rafters would collapse. You could hear them creak as he shoveled. I had to be carried to school and carried home by my father for two days as the roads were past waist deep on an adult. When they did clear our street, a tractor with scoop and a grain truck went down the street, and the grain truck filled in two truck lengths. It would leave and another show, and they laboriously dug the town out. The was close to head high by the house, and at the corners of the street and front door dig (nobody even tried to clear the public sidewalks) I crawled on top and added a couple of snowballs (dug out of a hard bank and shaped) on each side and put coal in the front for the largest snowmen I ever made.

Where I live now is 6b, and they had a '50 year blizzard' a few years ago. We called it 'a good snow' and the only issue was the power went out for almost two days (about 15 min short of 2 days) and they wired us in backwards literally off another feed end (we are the end of the grid) to get power on in town. Some people were dug out of their farms and/or the National Guard took a big snowcat and drug a tractor to the road for the family to dig their way out.... and up to 12 days after the power came on (days 5-12) you'd find a well bundled family with EVERYONE having a shopping cart and filling it up at the store. One family, I talked to the missus (day 12) and she was glad to see electric lights (it took them another week to see power other than their portable generator). She said the National Guard got the road dug past their place and came in with the snowcat, gave them some supplies, and drug the tractor up so they could dig backwards to their house and get out. Lows only got to about 20f and daytime highs were almost freezing, so it wasn't a blizzard like I remember... we had scavenged wood, some neighbors had college age son who was home, and he and friend cut and sold firewood, and they had a cord that someone hadn't paid for. They gave us about 1/8th of a cord for the fireplace, and after the mayhem we bought the rest of the cord (paid a full cord) and I took a shovel and shoveled them a straight path from street to where they were to deliver it and it amazed them that I did so quickly. Not more than 4" to spare though, they had just enough space to dolly the wood. I still have almost all that wood left. We had one more 12 hour power out in winter since then, and I burned about another 30 pieces. When your realtor says 'oh good this one has a fireplace, you need that and you need kerosene/oil lanterns if you live here', pay attention!

Silk has the best warmth to weight, but it's pricy and it is basically fattening silkworm larvae on mulberry leaves then killing them by boiling the cocoons and stealing the fiber. Some vegans may not like the idea.
Wool has great loft, whether it be sheep, goat, angora rabbit, even your dogshed if you have one of the ones that produces a thick long coat (it has to be spun with something else). The animal doesn't have to lose it's life to produce, but it is still having to take the fiber from the animal to work with. Again, some vegans may not like that idea.
Feathers/down have good loft, good air trapping qualities, and can provide good warming value. Most of these though are either taken from the animal, or harvested after killing. Not what a vegan wants.

A very tightly woven cotton surface, heavy like denim or canvas, with some filler of fiber probably knitted or crocheted to give lots of air pockets, and maybe a few layers, and another tight woven layer on the inside, then something that feels good and soft for the inner liner, is about your best hope for insulation in extreme cold. You want to stop the wind to prevent it from stripping the trapped air that is insulating you. Linen is very durable, cotton is usually the cheaper option. There are other exotic natural plant fibers out there.

Windbreaks as well, if you have to be out doing chores, fences and enclosures that are windproof will do a lot to help in your farmstead work. Laura Ingalls Wilder once more, wrote of her father digging snow tunnels to go to the barn and well from the house, and when the next blizzard came along and swept the snow away including his tunnels, then things got a lot more miserable outside. I always grow with windbreaks especially in early spring; it gives the plants you are growing better chance. So the same for you. Maybe erect some temporary sheltering fence to help with the predominant winter winds as well. Time honored in horse and buggy days was to put large potatoes into the fire coals to bake, and put one in each pocket or in the middle of your muff to stick your hands next to for the trip home. You could always warm them back up and EAT them when you got done with your buggy ride...

 
Lori Ziemba
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The winter after the snowball fight in mid summer, we got the settler blizzard (look at the ones Laura Ingalls Wilder writes about) of 3 1/2 days of horizontal white, highs of -35f and Dad had to put some big nail spikes in the roof, tie off to them with a rope and shovel the snow off a 60 degree roof every 8-12 hours or the rafters would collapse.


Good lord!  And I thought -32* in upstate NY was cold!

Wool has great loft, whether it be sheep, goat, angora rabbit, even your dogshed if you have one of the ones that produces a thick long coat (it has to be spun with something else). The animal doesn't have to lose it's life to produce, but it is still having to take the fiber from the animal to work with.


The dog will shed that hair anyway.  It's not like you take it out when they need it.  I've been working on spinning doghair.  I mix it with a small amount (about1/4 by weight) alpaca because I'm a beginner and I use a drop spindle, but there's a lady on youtube who spins straight doghair.  Here's a hat made from doghair that I just finished.

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dog hair hat
 
Deb Rebel
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Lovely hat, and you have a great winning smile.

It is up to each vegan to decide what they will use and what they will not. I'm a medical which means I eat the diet for my health and I'm rather strict about it because I have to be. So as far as what to use or not to use, I am not an expert. (I'd eat meat, eggs, and dairy if I could, and I have no qualms about animal products, I'll use them).

Wool sheep have been bred to produce the thick hair that is sheared from them each spring. That may be exploitation though that is the reason the animals are bred, cared for, and protected. That is out because it would be 'enslaving the animal'. Also the sheep can be nicked up some even with the best and most expert shearer working.
Angora goats are COMBED during their spring shed, and it is said an expert comber has to work on the same animal for a week and will comb out maybe 3 oz of wool. So it is assisting the animal to shed the winter coat, and it is otherwise not harmed during the process. The animal may also provide other products, but it is still kept for the main product, the wool. And could be considered exploited I guess.
Angora rabbits, can be pets, and to get the hair you would also have to comb them out. Is it grooming with a byproduct or exploitation? Gray area.
You nice big shaggy dog (malamute, husky, elkhound, etc) will shed in spring, and during the combout or 'blowing of the coat' you can get a huge pile of hair. The dog appreciates the grooming usually, it's a massive bonding event, and is it exploiting your pet to use what they discarded? Gray area. You're not keeping the dog for the fur/hair shed, but they can gift you. (we had a keeshond and they have a two layer coat. In the spring when the creamy undercoat came off, that was several extended brushing out sessions to get in there and get the shed hair off. I could fill two kitchen garbage bags in about three days, but that wasn't why she was a member of our household. I didn't have a drop spindle then or I would have gotten something long fiber for a carrier and tried to spin it, I think it would have made a wonderful undersweater for insulation.) Definitely gray area.
 
Deb Rebel
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Been thinking of veggie fibers that would be insulating and it still comes down to just go for layers. I once crocheted an afghan (we still have it) that I crocheted in DC in straight rows, then went over it on both sides and added more DC row by row to make air trapping ridges. Took a ton and a half of yarn. With a sheet over it and a sheet underneath, it really does give the R-value. I was thinking of that when constructing a vegan friendly coat lining that would insulate. There is no pattern, just do the DC base, then work across it row by row, hook into existing work, and add the 'frill' to it. Then flip over and do again. Encase in a wind breaking/windproof outer shell and put a nice warm feeling inner lining next to you, and you've got it. Even if you look like you gained 150#, warm is worth it.
 
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