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

 
Posts: 175
Location: Philomath, OR
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This isn't necessarily clothing, but I have brain tan sheep hides available if people are looking for natural warm sleeping pads to curl up with. If you knew how to sew furs you could probably make a super warm vest out of one of these.



PM if you're interested or have questions.
 
steward
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Dennis, those sheep hides do look awesome (even if I'm replying awfully late).

Had a few more inputs from a friend:

Organic wool blankets:

http://www.blankets.com/lebarca-balkan-organic-wool-blanket.html

A pattern for a blanket coat:

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

Another buckskin or leather source:

http://www.promiselandranch.net/Leathers%20and%20Buckskin.html
 
Dennis Lanigan
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Thanks Jocelyn.

By the way, I sold all of my sheep hides, but I do have a few bark tan hides for sale on Etsy. http://www.etsy.com/shop/oldtreeleather/
 
Posts: 13
Location: Buffalo NY
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too many posts to see if this has been mentioned yet but i'll state my piece anyway

while the closest i've come to a proper montana winter where i live is those few bitter weeks in january and february ( the coldest here is probably warm or average by your standards) im a big believer in anything leather or fur.

roadkill can be a great source for usable hides, both deer and smaller fuzzies. if you have the patience to look for the critters, to skin them and tan them (i've used liver as an alternative to brain since liver and brain both contain emulsified oils that preserve hides) even a simple possum worn as a scarf or wrapped around my head as a simple hat keeps me toasty in the 0's and sweating in the 10's. with enough small pelts stitched together you could make a handsome lining for a coat, or even wear cased skins as arm warmers or a muff.
i have several wool garments and while they're still pretty warm, wool cant compare to skins imho. i've tried learning to spin fibers and i think tanning is way more fun anyway
 
pollinator
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Christy Domino wrote: im a big believer in anything leather or fur.



It's been said before here, I think. My new favorite hat is by Klondike Sterling and it's leather with rabbit fur on the inside. Like an aviator hat, very steam punk.

The polar vortex got nothing on that hat! I was only wishing for mittens, coat, pants made the same way!
 
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.. what a fantastic compilation here! - among the first things I felt were necessary on a permacultre homestead were sources of fuel, building and basket/matting material, and fiber for clothing.. the 150-mile wardrobe video just blew me away- that this gentle, unpretentious young person could do So much by bringing not only material, but skills and hearts together.. So much more than just providing clothing to wear.. a human, humane fabric interwoven with rememberances in every garment.. how disconnected we have become from each other! - and from Nature, which feeds and clothes us.. such a poignant, moving film for me- I cried for almost an hour afterwards..
 
Mother Tree
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Thomas A. Cahan wrote: the 150-mile wardrobe video just blew me away- that this gentle, unpretentious young person could do So much by bringing not only material, but skills and hearts together.. So much more than just providing clothing to wear.. a human, humane fabric interwoven with rememberances in every garment.. how disconnected we have become from each other! - and from Nature, which feeds and clothes us.. such a poignant, moving film for me- I cried for almost an hour afterwards..



I''m posting the video again here in case anyone missed it. In fact, if you did miss it, it's really worth going back to the first page of this thread and checking out all the photos too.

 
Thomas A. Cahan
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.. that's the one..
 
Posts: 43
Location: Gaspésie/BSL, QC Zones 4b-5a
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There are some great plant-based, super-cheap (read: free to gather) down-replacements in Typha spp. (cattails) and Asclepias spp. (milkweed). If you've got a sewing machine, some decent shell fabric (maybe some tight-woven linen or buckskin) you could pull sth local and ubernatural together.

I gathered cattail down on snowshoes this winter in Northern Quebec at -20ish degrees C, and even holding the cattail flowerspike in my hand made a difference heat-wise. My project was to use it as a Thinsulate (in gloves) replacement using a quilting technique. The natives in this area used it to stuff moccasins with the stuff, and I can assure you, Quebec winters are as legit if not moreso than Montana's.

I'm not sure about washability, though, or whether you may need to sterilize it for creepy crawlies that overwinter. Anybody have any experience that way?
 
Posts: 605
Location: SE Ohio
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Cattail fuzz decays quickly from what i have seen. I dont know about using it to stuff a coat with but i know youd have to be pretty darn bored to try and spin the stuff.

Cottonwood fiber from a thread in a spinners group was saying that its very very soft but insanely short fibers and it sort of falls apart when handled. A couple people had got it to spin but it wasnt strong and it gets really weird and seems tomagically change consistancy if it gets wet.
 
Posts: 517
Location: Andalucía, Spain
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I haven't read every single page here - but have a few comments:

Merino is great for undergrave but lousy for socks - the memory in merino is close to 0 so there is no elasticity and it breaks very easily (I use merino sock yarns but they contain 20% nylon for strength). Considering the hours you put into a pair of homemade socks it simply isn't worth it. Be aware that most merino sheep are horribly mutilated in New Zealand and Australia: they have a tendency of getting an maggot infection in their skin around the rectum, and the farmers simply cut most of the skin of :( I saw a story about it a few years ago. I think the practise is illegal in Europe (? But not sure). Otherwise - organic wool guarantees that the animals have been treated well.

Mohair is great for socks - unless you are very sensitive. Cashmere breaks faster than Mohair, but is softer and more expensive ;)

Loads of ladies in eg Denmark knits wool socks and sells them online very very cheaply (I don't know if some elderly ladies in the states do the same and sell them on craigslist?).

You can make long Johns from old sweaters. They are not pretty, but functional and thrifty.
 
Dawn Hoff
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If you want to maintain your own wardrobe you'd have to use durable fiber. I don't think that most people a 100 years ago could afford merino, alpaca or cashmere - so underwear was not necessarily soft - my father in law was born in '33 and he could tell stories of wearing only itchy scratchy wool throughout his childhood - underwear, socks, pants, sweaters, jackets and hats. They were quite affluent, not rich, but certainly not poor. Just one generation before a girl was expected to make, with her own hands all linen required in a household before she got married - I.e. That would be a job that took some 14 years (every night, all winter, every winter), and it does not include clothing. It can certainly be done - but if you are only learning to sow or knit as an adult - it will take a few years before you are done
 
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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This whole topic sounds like a great fiber workshop weekend. Knitting, spinning, dying, weaving, felting. There's a whole other event around leather craft too.

For mittens, I would make myself a pair with a thrummed lining, which is a Scandinavian technique for incorporating unspun wool into the underside of a garment. I've never heard of anyone thrumming a sweater, but I see no reason why it could not be done. Smaller objects like hats and mittens are more typical. Might not be a good idea for socks, but could make some wicked slippers. I should try that.

As an aside, I've been taking old worn out cotton tshirts and turning them into yarn, then knitting into doormats. It's a fun quick project, even the yarn-making. They should last far longer than the t-shirts did as garments but take forever to dry on the line after a wash.
 
master steward
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I have a favorite shirt. It is dark reddish, moroonish ... I wear it when things are a little cool and when things get cooler I wear a coat over it. So it is this perfect layer size.












The problem is that it is some sort of synthetic. I would like to get this shirt in wool.

Last christmas Jocelyn bought me two wool shirts. Pendleton. They were a little too small and were not available in a larger size. A month ago I bought two more pendleton shirts - still too small. Ug.

Ernie is sporting a perfect shirt that is also a pinch too small. Ernie's shirt is even better because the pendleton stuff is really thin wool and ernie's shirt is quite thick.

I suspect that the only thing left for me to do is to get something custom made?



 
Dennis Lanigan
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Filson just came out with a wool shirt. Sizes go up to xxxl.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
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I think that is what ernie has. I ordered this one.
 
Posts: 618
Location: Volant, PA
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The Amish fabric stores here have thick wool felt fabric, I've never seen it before, but it's great! So warm for the thickness compared to anything I have had....I'll ask about it so others can look for it, see what it is called commercially....
 
Dennis Lanigan
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I made some natural winter gear that's for sale if anyone is interested.

I have two pairs of buckskin mittens for sale. Medium/Small. $75/pair.


And a huge Icelandic Sheephide that I braintanned (no alum/taxidermy chemicals). I only lightly smoked it so it's not smoky smelling. I consider this the natural alternative to Thermarests. $250

 
kadence blevins
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ok guys. I can officially say it. tomorrow I am going to look over and pick out AND COME HOME WITH the start of my sheep flock! STEP ONE toward my own evil plot of HUSP quality clothing!

I think it is pretty safe to say that by this time next year I should be able to have at least things like hats/scarves/cowls/mittens for sale that were processed by me from sheep to finished item! and in a couple years time I will work more and more toward really HUSP quality!

which reminds me I have some goodies to send out to yall at The Lab and Ant Village which includes some handmade wool goodies for you guys (Paul & Jocelyn)!
 
Posts: 49
Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
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There's always angora rabbits, a drop spindle and a pair of knitting needles. You can feed the rabbit entirely from the land and make the tools to knit or crochet warm things. If you comb the fiber from the rabbit instead of shear it, then you'd not even need to use tools you didn't make. Unless, of course, you make your own scissors, shears and snips.



The drop spindle is a bit of tree from my neighbor's yard and a chopstick along with a paperclip and a bit of stainless steel wire, you could use a twig instead to keep the tools locally made.

The shawls are knit really loosely since angora is a very warm fiber and I wanted the shawls to be able to be worn indoors. Knit tightly and they'd be really warm.


 
master steward
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Dawn Hoff wrote:If you want to maintain your own wardrobe you'd have to use durable fiber. I don't think that most people a 100 years ago could afford merino, alpaca or cashmere - so underwear was not necessarily soft - my father in law was born in '33 and he could tell stories of wearing only itchy scratchy wool throughout his childhood - underwear, socks, pants, sweaters, jackets and hats. They were quite affluent, not rich, but certainly not poor. Just one generation before a girl was expected to make, with her own hands all linen required in a household before she got married - I.e. That would be a job that took some 14 years (every night, all winter, every winter), and it does not include clothing. It can certainly be done - but if you are only learning to sow or knit as an adult - it will take a few years before you are done



Going back 200 years to pretty much the dawn of human habitation in Europe much of the undergrads were linen or another bast fibre like nettles. Unless you were in the top 2% of society, linen underclothes were always scratchy to start, but wore in after a few weeks. Linen was worn next to the skin year round because it was breathable, wicks moisture away from the body, does not deteriorate from sweet and skin grease, is easy to clean and is just awesome. Over top went the layers of wool.


Some thoughts about wool. Wool doesn't have to be scratchy. Some wool, of course is coarser than others, and are better suited to coats or rugs. But there is a lot of wool, not just merino, that is only scratchy because of how it's prepared. If the animal is given a healthy diet and proper minerals then the wool is stronger and softer. It can make a huge difference. The chemicals used to remove the vegetable matter from the wool in industrial practices weaken the wool. The machines used in industrial practices can break the individual fibres - making shorter fibres which pill easier and are scratchy. Many people who feel they are allergic to wool are actually allergic to the many chemicals often used in industrial processing (cleaning, removing vegi matter, carding oil, and sizing).

Not all industrial wool manufactures are as bad as all that. They seem to be getting better lately as people are starting to expect (and willing to pay) for better quality wool clothing.

One of the reasons why merino, especially New Zealand Merino is so popular today is because the farmers know how to raise the sheep for wool and the processors take extra care selecting the best fleeces instead of mixing in weaker fleeces with the good ones.


Transforming wool into cloth isn't very difficult and when you get the hang of it, not very time consuming. One of the really nice things about it is that you can control the quality of every step of the process. You can create a garment that lasts for decades of almost daily wear.




 
Niele da Kine
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Yup, there's hundreds of breeds of sheep and each one has different characteristics to it's typical fleece. The fleece from each animal will be different, too. The first lamb's fleece is the softest. Then ram's or wether's fleeces are considered the next best since they aren't putting out the effort of making lambs like ewes are. Although, that all depends on the individual sheep, as well as how it was eating the year it made the fleece.

Some woolen garments such as jackets and suits were heirlooms and passed down through the generations. If they are made with durable wool and spun worsted instead of woolen, woven properly and taken care of, there's no reason for them not to last that long.

They were all hand washed, though. New washing machines are pretty hard on clothes. Plus the fabrics aren't made as well or from as quality of fibers so folks have gotten to the point where they don't expect their clothing to actually survive that long. Which works well for the fabric and garment manufacturers. Wouldn't they howl if everyone only bought one or two new pieces of clothing each year?

With durable goods, buy quality and you only have to buy it once. At least, that's my theory. Doesn't seem to work for electronics, though. The whole industry there seems to have bought into the obsolete in three years attitude.
 
pollinator
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I don't know much about Montana (only the photos shown here by 'Ants'). Maybe Montana winters are a little colder than Dutch winters. But probably Dutch winters are wetter (more rainy).
Here in the Netherlands we try to find back the old ways for making textiles of locally grown fibers. Of course there's wool, sheep do very well here. Wool spinners, weavers and knitters are active in groups. But we have stinging nettles too ... The way to make those into good textile fibers is lost a little, but it's worth the efforts to re-find it. Stinging nettles grow very very well here! You can use the leaves for tea or as a vegetable, and the stems for the fibers!
 
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oh funny- completely off topic, I saw in the email the topic "winter is coming" and the first thing I thought was "oh cool a Game of Thrones thread on Permies.......
 
Posts: 1
Location: central Minnesota, United States
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Greetings from Minnesota! I've been reading here a while, and this is my first active post. Winter clothes is something we know about here

Layers are the key, as mentioned. There are natural options that work as well as or better than modern synthetics. First, silk as a base layer next to the skin. Second, one or two wool layers as insulation. Last, a windproof outer shell, like a cotton anorak. This is geared towards really cold weather - a plain cotton outer layer will not work as well if it is warmer (wetter). Waxed cotton/canvas is really great stuff, but it can get stiff when it gets cold. Once you are at -10 F or colder, there really isn't too much danger of wet feet or wet precipitation unless you are in town where the streets are salted. Well, maybe if you are ice fishing and you get lake water up through the hole.

If you want to get away from production fabric, the real choice to me is fur. Caribou, bear, bison, sheep - it doesn't really matter, though some are better than others. No spinning yarn, no weaving, no raveling. Tan it and make it into outerwear. You don't even need to be a hunter if you don't mind getting into roadkill and the local wildlife dept approves. Traditional sinew is easy to work with and actually quite simple to produce. Best stuff comes from backstraps and legs of large animals, like deer/elk/cattle. The Traditional Boyer's Bible book set has multiple sections on obtaining and using sinew. There are other resources online as well. Google will help.

I find that water is the hardest thing to manage with natural fabrics. Cold is fairly easy. Traditional mukluks keep your feet toasty, but they are made for dry snow, not slopping around in slush. Once you are in the warmer portion of winter, you will likely want your outer shell to be waxed canvas rather than the plain tight weave canvas.

You can get pretty much all the natural fabric cold weather gear you need from these guys, as long as your pockets are deep. I bet it will last you the rest of your life, though...

http://empirecanvasworks.com/

Another place that has canvas anoraks:

https://www.duluthpack.com/apparel/men/mens-jackets/canvas-anorak.html

I'm not affiliated with either of these, but I do believe in their products, especially Empire Canvas.

 
Posts: 397
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Jason Christopherson wrote:Greetings from Minnesota! I've been reading here a while, and this is my first active post. Winter clothes is something we know about here ;D

Layers are the key, as mentioned. There are natural options that work as well as or better than modern synthetics. First, silk as a base layer next to the skin. Second, one or two wool layers as insulation. Last, a windproof outer shell, like a cotton anorak. This is geared towards really cold weather - a plain cotton outer layer will not work as well if it is warmer (wetter). Waxed cotton/canvas is really great stuff, but it can get stiff when it gets cold. Once you are at -10 F or colder, there really isn't too much danger of wet feet or wet precipitation unless you are in town where the streets are salted. Well, maybe if you are ice fishing and you get lake water up through the hole.

If you want to get away from production fabric, the real choice to me is fur. Caribou, bear, bison, sheep - it doesn't really matter, though some are better than others. No spinning yarn, no weaving, no raveling. Tan it and make it into outerwear. You don't even need to be a hunter if you don't mind getting into roadkill and the local wildlife dept approves. Traditional sinew is easy to work with and actually quite simple to produce. Best stuff comes from backstraps and legs of large animals, like deer/elk/cattle. The Traditional Boyer's Bible book set has multiple sections on obtaining and using sinew. There are other resources online as well. Google will help.

I find that water is the hardest thing to manage with natural fabrics. Cold is fairly easy. Traditional mukluks keep your feet toasty, but they are made for dry snow, not slopping around in slush. Once you are in the warmer portion of winter, you will likely want your outer shell to be waxed canvas rather than the plain tight weave canvas.

You can get pretty much all the natural fabric cold weather gear you need from these guys, as long as your pockets are deep. I bet it will last you the rest of your life, though...

http://empirecanvasworks.com/

Another place that has canvas anoraks:

https://www.duluthpack.com/apparel/men/mens-jackets/canvas-anorak.html

I'm not affiliated with either of these, but I do believe in their products, especially Empire Canvas.



We know our winter clothing here in Alaska too...if you do have deep pockets, ventile ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventile ) is a tightly woven cotton fabric which excludes water because the fibers swell when they get wet, sealing it shut. It was supposedly invented to keep RAF pilots from succumbing to hypothermia before they could be rescued from cold waters. Very expensive, but natural and breathable. Empire Canvas Works used to sell a ventile anorak, but no more. Their boreal shirt is a wool/synthetic blend, but http://www.lrbushcraft.com/ sells a 100% wool version. Empire's boots would be awesome, but they're synthetic blend. Steger makes some natural mukluks, though: http://www.mukluks.com/ . The liners are blended, but can be replaced with ones of 100% wool, like the ones Empire uses. Plus there's no heel rise, if you're into the barefoot thing. There are some interesting boots here, too: https://www.facebook.com/Topaz-Arctic-Shoes-Norway-163372097042806/ . Some of them are sealskin. The "English" website they link to isn't in English, though, so here it is via Google Translate link: http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=no&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.topaz.no%2Fenglish%2F

The Inuit are experts in keeping warm, and their fur garments have been shown to outperform modern synthetic gear: https://warriorpublications.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/caribou-skin-clothing-beats-high-tech-expedition-clothing/ . Good luck finding those for sale online, though.
 
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For all things woolly and fiber, there are few resources better than the New York State sheep and wool festival.
http://sheepandwool.com/

Look under the vendors link to find US suppliers of fibers (sheep, goat, rabbit, alpaca, etc.). There are a number of US mills that process and sell these fibers as well (in the form of fleece, yarn, and possibly finished fabrics). Despite the name (NYS sheep and wool festival), vendors come from around the country. I actually met someone who had come from Alaska (one of the finest places to find musk oxen fiber). There are also frequently leather dealers, too.

Sheep wool will keep you warm when your canoe tips in 35 degree water (go ahead, ask me how I know). Furthermore, wool that is not scoured, to remove the natural waxes, is water repellent. Felting and fulling wool will also make it highly water resistant. However, Alpaca is warmer, lighter, and frequently less itchy. Silk can be very warm, too, and has been grown successfully in New England, although it isn't commonly grown here now.

Linen was traditionally worn under wool, next to the skin, as it is easier to wash and keep clean than wool.

Quilting is one traditional method of making garments for layering. For example, you can make the outside cotton and use wool as the batting for a warm garment without the drawbacks of wool.

I'm out of random comments on this topic.
 
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Justa Story:

Our friend who is a National Park Ranger got stationed in Kenai Alaska. His wife went out & bought a lot of state of the art cold weather clothing and then after landing in Alaska found out she was cold, real cold.

She made friends with a woman who still made traditional clothes out of seal & moose & rabbit etc..

The lady gifted her with a pair of real boots and her feet were never cold after that.

On a personal note: I had a bad habit of over dressing when I was young which made me sweat & then the sweat chilled me even more.

If you are going to be comfortable in the cold climates then the quest is not to be "toasty" warm it is to be warm enough. Dress in layers that can be removed and carried with you comfortably especially if working outside all day.

Early mornings are cold but when the afternoon comes if you are doing physical labor or hiking you can get too hot & sweat & that is bad news. Learn to dress & moderate activity to maintain comfort.

Cold is a good thing & can make you feel alive.
 
Dennis Lanigan
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In reference to the canvas winter wear mentions above, I think buckskin is much better than cotton canvas, definitely more "natural"/non-industrial and "sustainable" as well. Both Snow Walker's Companion and Lure of the North (canadian winter guides) recommend buckskin "if available". Having worn buckskin mittens (that I made, see above) in two Minnesota winters, I'd have to agree. I'd say buckskin is even better than furs [edit: this is just my speculation], because buckskin breathes better to release dangerous sweat. To gather sinew you need A LOT to sew anything substantial. With buckskin you can just use the hide itself. Though, buckskin definitely fits in the cold (less than 25 F) than temperate climates.
 
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Hmm - I wonder if Maddie who works at the Woolery Mammoth up in Eureka MT has any ideas?  I know she is a fiber worker of many types and is quickly becoming an expert on plant-based dyeing.  I hope to share this thread with her, but if any of you wish to reach out to her and the shop first - http://woolerymammoth.com/contact.html

I also cannot wait for this book to come out on http://www.buckskinrevolution.com/
 
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Cj Sloane wrote: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.



Animals that can live in the Cold North make the best winter clothing hands down.  My family always saved skins from our hunts.  There are endless ways to turn them into comfortable and very rugged clothing for no or very little money.  Wool is also a must especially felted wool.  Humans would never have survived in any cold environment without them.  

As far as food for the cold lands, there is a reason that there are no known cultures (if there were I have not heard of them so please feel free to point them out) who were even close to vegetarian and that reason is they would have died of starvation or frozen to death. Animal protein and fat was the only high calorie foods that permits survival in the north.  If you were out on the landscape burning 4000 or more calories every day and only eating plant based foods you would not survive long.  Try eating 4000 calories a day of just plant matter and you will spend the entire day eating.  This is why vegans and vegetarians in the cold north are always cold and shivering in the winter.  Maybe some can manage to get enough fats and proteins in their diets for some metabolic burn, thanks to grocery stores with many foods from around the world, but thrown into an ancestral environment they would starve.  There is a  reason that peoples living in the arctic circle were largely carnivorous and it isn't that edible plants don't grow there. In the tropics there are many examples of civilizations that are based on a largely vegetarian diet because there is little need to burn calories to maintain body heat. More often it is more important to NOT burn so many calories in the tropics or face serious overheating.  I can respect vegans desire to save animals from the horrors of modern animal husbandry because it is so inhuman how they are raised.  But the cold lands are not the place to push for veganism for all because it would lead to a slow death for many if not all.  There are certainly ways to make meat production more ethical and environmentally sound and those should be pursued.



 
Lynn Garcia
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Dennis Lanigan wrote:In reference to the canvas winter wear mentions above, I think buckskin is much better than cotton canvas, definitely more "natural"/non-industrial and "sustainable" as well. Both Snow Walker's Companion and Lure of the North (canadian winter guides) recommend buckskin "if available". Having worn buckskin mittens (that I made, see above) in two Minnesota winters, I'd have to agree. I'd say buckskin is even better than furs [edit: this is just my speculation], because buckskin breathes better to release dangerous sweat. To gather sinew you need A LOT to sew anything substantial. With buckskin you can just use the hide itself. Though, buckskin definitely fits in the cold (less than 25 F) than temperate climates.



Canvas is not made from cotton to the best of my knowledge. Canvas is made from Hemp and is very sustainable. The word Canvas is just a word for Cannabis.  If any sellers are selling cotton "canvas" it is not canvas.

Buckskin in my experience is okay for mild spring and fall weather but into freezing or below will not keep you warm enough without some other types of layering.  Wool beneath buckskin might do it.  Furs will always win out over buckskin since they have the fur still on and the fur is where the heat retention properties of mammals reside.
 
r ranson
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The interesting thing about language, especially textile jargon, is that one word can have a whole host of meanings depending on location, occupation and time.

Canvas, in this day and age for example, usually refers to a specific weave structure and fabric weight.  Not the material it's made from.  Even though the original root of the word refers to hemp, I've seen medieval references use the word to refer to nettle and linen fabric.  It's like how modern people use the word decimated (reduced by one tenth) when they really mean desolated or lucked-out to mean lucked-in.  English is constantly changing.  Medievals had the same fluidity of language, often using the word 'linen' to refer to several different bast fibres including nettles.  Now, in modern times, linen is only from the flax plant - and only at the point where it transforms into yarn or thread onwards.  But that's North America.  In New Zealand, it seems to become linen once the fibres are extracted from the stem.  Of course, that's for people involved in producing textiles.  The vernacular refers to linen only at the woven cloth stage.

Time, place, occupation - these all affect what the word means.  This is especially evident with textiles.  

The way we treat language these days, it's tempting to apply a narrow definition to words.  I don't like restricting beautiful and fluid old words to one modern meaning.  It doesn't leave room for other people's ideas.
 
Lynn Garcia
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That is something I did not know.  Thanks for pointing it out. In my readings on canvas I had not run into any mention of fibers other than hemp being used to make it.  I was not reading about modern canvas so that info wasn't inlcuded.
 
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There is a fabric made from lotus (the bast fibers in the stem) that is supposed to be naturally waterproof. You can find it at samatoa.lotus-flower-fabric.com. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7cSyFmGpE0e9-iFrw1TP2Q[/youtube]

The only reason I have not bought any yet (I have sensitive skin, and am in the process of eliminating everything synthetic that touches my skin) is that it costs over $200.00 per yard. So I am saving for this purchase. I live in Seattle, so the waterproof part is more important to me than warmth.
 
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Thanks to Nicole for bring up this thread. I should start by saying that my mother and grandmother were both dressmakers and that I started sewing doll clothes at 3 years old, and drafted my first "newspaper" pattern at the tender age of 8. I also, way back in the late 70s, received my degree in Fashion Design. I think the wool clothing would be great for the cold Montana winters. I live in the White Mountains of NH, so I do know a bit about staying warm in the winter. When I lived in cities and worked in offices, I loved to make myself and others basic wool skirts. You can easily draft some skirt patterns and change them up by adding pockets or trim.  Don't forget the classic Celtic kilt for that matter. I wore a wool coat that I made myself for years and it was very soft and warm.  Look for some nice wool in a heavier weight for the outer layer, then use an interlining of a soft felt type fabric, and a different lighter weight fabric for the lining. We do the same 3 layers for winter draperies. I also had a very warm cape that my mother made many years ago. I know that as rural residents, we tend to hang out in jeans and work wear, but there is no reason that we couldn't wear wool pants in the winter as well. I remember years ago, someone could not believe that I made a pair of wool pants, because the plaids were so well matched. All of this is very well, but as for thread, you will be hard pressed to find an all natural thread for the sewing.  Most thread these days are polyester; it simply is stronger and holds together longer for a longer lasting garment. For winter clothing I would also recommend that you invest in more classic styles that will age better, and keep your summer lightweight clothes the trendier styles. Let's face it a light or white colored cotton garment will get soiled easier and therefore isn't expected to last, while a good wool skirt or coat could last for many years. I did recently order my husband some American Bison socks from National Geographic. They are expensive, but I waited for a sale. He loves them, they are warm and soft, and he always gets cold feet, so they were perfect.
 
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if moneys not an issue visit an eskimo or athabascin handmade website, for obvious reasons they make the best all natural winter gear
 
Victor Johanson
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odessa steele wrote:if moneys not an issue visit an eskimo or athabascin handmade website, for obvious reasons they make the best all natural winter gear



Yes, and proven superior to modern gear: https://www.int-res.com/articles/cr/5/c005p083.pdf
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Ann Torrence wrote:... For mittens, I would make myself a pair with a thrummed lining, which is a Scandinavian technique for incorporating unspun wool into the underside of a garment. I've never heard of anyone thrumming a sweater, but I see no reason why it could not be done. Smaller objects like hats and mittens are more typical. Might not be a good idea for socks, but could make some wicked slippers. I should try that. ...


I used that technique, but with different material. Instead of unspun wool I used strips cut from old bed sheets. For the knitting I used a half linnen half cotton yarn. In this way I knitted two sweaters of all naturel recycled vegan materials.
 
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This is a great thread!

Back when I lived in Alaska and had a full household, I found that wool just worked better than anything else overall.  My kids and I were all pretty hard on clothes and I found that wool did the job well and survived to get passed on to the next kid, while a lot of synthetics didn't.  When I needed outdoor gear, I went to a military surplus joint.  Some of these surplus shops are really upscale.  You don't want that kind of store.  You want the place that looks kind of like a garage/ rummage sale.  The international military (much of what I bought was german or russian military cast off) has lots of pretty good quality wool clothing and I could get it for near thrift shop prices.  

Wool protects even when wet, wears well, and has the great benefit of not turning into shrink wrap when it gets hit by a spark (like synthetics do).

For feet, the gold standard is bunny boots.  the newer style is rubber, but the old style (which I used to wear comfortably at -50 to -60 degrees fahrenheit) had a hard felt outside (the bottoms were leather and way too slick on ice).  Snow mobile boots with felt liners are what most people could afford.  Get an extra pair or to of liners, so you don't end up with wet feet.  Get them a little roomy (not sloppy) so you can wear an extra pari of heavy socks.  If you can get them or make them, mukluks are wonderful.

The old time athabaskans in central Alaska often wore a big set of heavily insulated thumbless outer mittens on a cord around their neck adjusted to where their hands would be normally.  When their hands weren't in use, they kept them  (maybe with secondary gloves) in these big mittens.  When they needed to use their hands, they pulled them out, did their work, and put them back into the big outer mittens.  This is a great idea, in many situations.

For stopping the wind, I have nothing against leather, but it can be pretty heavy.  Another alternative, especially for the vegan crowd, might be oil cloth.  Here are a couple of links for how to.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqjfwhirsVo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dvZczKZfvF4
or waxed cloth, this example is 90% beeswax and 10% parafin  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6G8MG8Qfhg

Note:  I haven't made oilcloth, but I understand it can take up to a few months to get to the point it isn't sticky, so best to prepare it in the summer, let the sun hit it to help the oil polymerize.

A good hood is better than a hat or scarf.  

Looking at old history.  I've often felt that the old medieval hood that covered your head and shoulders but was not part of the coat was a great idea.  Also, everyone in the world used cloaks, which is basically just a blanket with hooks to let it hold around your neck,  part can be brought forward to form a hood.  They didn't do this because it didn't work.  In our current time frame though, for a man (particularly) to wear a cloak is a visual announcement "Hi!  I'm either an overdramatic theater major or I'm a bit bonkers".  This is unfortunate, because in some settings it is a very practical piece of gear.

 
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