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The Human Cost of Fast Fashion

In this episode, Lisa discusses the human cost of fast fashion. There is a high price to be paid for cheap clothing and other textiles. It is paid by the garment workers who are paid by the piece but never reaching a living wage. It’s paid for by the dyers, farmers, spinners and weavers who don’t have access to health care for occupational injuries and illnesses. What can we do about it?

Listen to this episode here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. OR watch on Vimeo or YouTube. You will find a couple of simple ways to support the supply chain and those who work to make your clothing.

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Slow Fashion: New Podcast Episode

Slow fashion is the opposite of fast fashion. It has arisen from the concerns about the planet and about concerns about wage equality and the equal treatment of people in all countries, not only as workers, but also as the end users of these products and concern about our climate. It started by a lot of people pivoting to buying organic clothes, when possible. And then people started looking at the idea of these organic sustainable fibers are going to be grown on a farm somewhere. Read the Transcript Listen to the podcast Watch the Video

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Toxins in Our Clothes

Toxins, Mutagens and Hormone Disrupters…. These are just a few consequences of buying and supporting the fast fashion industry. We just don’t know what has gone into making our clothing and household textiles. There aren’t studies about using know carcinogens in clothing against the biggest permeable organ in our bodies: our skin. We don’t have adequate labeling and these global textile industries just are not transparent.

You can listen to the podcast here or iTunes, Spotify or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Prefer to watch? You can see it here on YouTube or here on Vimeo

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Fast Fashion, Slow Fashion and Healing our Planet

In this episode, Lisa explores what fast fashion is and what the issues are with this overconsumption of textiles.  She talks about what you can do to turn away from this consumerism and start to heal ourselves and our planet. 

Click here to find the link for the episode…. Or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts. Prefer to watch? Click here to go to my Vimeo page.

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Foundations of Fabric

A new episode of the podcast dropped last Monday. I thought I would blog a little bit about it in case you missed it.

This new season is all about Slow, Climate Beneficial Fashion vs. Fast, polluting fashion. In this episode, I talk about the fibers that fabric is made from. I talk about the pros and cons of the fibers. Of course there is a call to action should you choose to take it.

You can listen to the episode here or subscribe on iTunes, Spotify or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

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The Fall Foraging Continues

If you follow my social media and these blog posts, you know that I am currently working very hard to bring a naturally dyed yarn line to you. I also want part of the yarn line to be Fibershed certified, when it is possible to do in our Chesapeake Fibershed. So I’ve been foraging around our 25 acres and in places within 10 miles here to find dye plants that I can use. Yesterday, I was able to get some of these dye plants collected and prepared for dyeing into the fall.

Black Walnuts grow wild here on the property. They are just beginning to ripen and fall off the tree. I collected several pounds of them. Walnuts are dual purpose. The outer husk is where the dye lives. And the inner nut is oh, so yummy. Yes, they are hard to pick out from the shell, but they are worth the trouble in my opinion. So yesterday I broke open the husks and put those into a dye bag and laid out the nuts to dry in the sun.

We grew Hopi Black Sunflowers this year. Bill harvested the seed head several weeks ago, and I’ve been slowly picking the seeds out of the sunflower head. I’ll save these until later to dye, they will keep just fine. I saved the seed heads with some seeds in them to plant for next year. The plants are lovely and grew probably 8 feet in height. There’s nothing prettier in summer than a row of sunflowers.

And then there were the pokeberries. I cut off the sprays of berries and put them straight away into the freezer. I have to read up on how to dye with these. Unfortunately this dye tends to fade but still it will be lovely to try to use plants that our ancestors used.

We also harvested acorns, although we don’t have nearly enough to do anything with at this time. I will just keep adding to the stash until I have enough. And we picked up hickory nuts too. Those are just to pick and eat. They are also hard to crack and to get the nut meat out of, but they are really really nice. It feels great to live in a place where we can go out and forage for dyes and for food.

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WIP Wednesday: Laundry Edition

I’ve been making wool dryer balls in my spare time. Why? Well, I have some roving that is not great for spinning or felting. I need all my wool to do something on the farm. This is what allows us to be sustainable. All or nearly all wool and mohair is used to make something here.

Why use dryer balls? Well according to the Environmental Working Group, dryer sheets and fabric softeners damage your clothing and they also damage your health. The chemicals in these products contain chemicals known to cause cancer, irritate your skin, and cause reproductive issues. Also when dryer sheets are heated, these chemicals become airborne and can affect your lungs and exasperate asthma. These chemicals are know collectively as Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or QACS. These chemicals make your towels less absorbent. I’ve surely experienced that. They will also wear down the ability of your clothing to wick away moisture in socks or athletic wear. QACS stay on your fabrics for quite a while and they slowly seep out over time between washings. And as they seep they are affecting you, your family and all the fabrics in your house. Also what happens to the “used” sheet? It goes to the landfill. There are still those chemicals in the sheet. And the contents of our landfills can contaminate ground water and other water sources. Just think about all the loads of laundry in all the houses in your neighborhood or city or state, that’s a lot of these QACS in the environment.

Dryer balls are completely natural. Mine are made of 100% wool. Wool is great at wicking away moisture. It is antimicrobial as well. They work by bouncing around in your dryer. They lift and aerate your laundry. They help the heat to disperse within your load and thereby reduce your drying time. Because they reduce the heat in your dryer, they also reduce the static cling. Static builds up with more and longer heat in the dryer. They contain no chemicals, just wool, pure wool.

Each package of dryer balls contains 4 softball sized wool balls. Just toss them in your dryer and turn it on. In between laundry days or sessions, leave them in the dryer. I’ve had mine in the dryer for over 5 years. They last forever. Sometimes they get a little worse for wear and you can certainly replace them but these are economical as well. A box of dryer sheets costs somewhere between 5 and 11 cents a load. When you switch to dryer balls you will have that money to spend on something else, fancy coffee? yarn? some kind of treat? And you have the knowledge that you are making the world a better place. That’s work it for sure.

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getting closer WIP Wednesday

This is my Fibershed sweater. I’m working on the sleeves. And it’s almost done. I’m beyond the elbows. What’s taking so long you ask? Well I’m doing the sleeves two at a time. I’m doing a series of blips which is a 12 row repeat on one sleeve then switching to the other sleeve and repeating that and so forth. That way the gauge is even. And I pattern is even. And the decreases are in the same place without really having to count.

What have I learned? well I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Your future self will thank you if you weave in your ends as you are knitting. Do not wait until the end of your project. This sweater has a lot of yarn changes and so lots of weaving in the ends. But I’m staying on top of it.
  2. Knit some every day. Even if you can only manage a row or two. Soon your project will grow and you will be near the end.

What are you working on?

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WIP not Wednesday!

So I planned to do this blog on Wednesday, but you know….It was full of drama and pomp and circumstance, a few tears and a little nail biting. So here is my current, well one of them, project. This is my “Fibershed” sweater. It is all yarn made from my animals or those of partner farms within 100 miles, really within 20 miles. The dark is naturally colored wool, mohair and alpaca fleeces. The bright colors are all natural dyes on my mohair yarn.

Shifty Fibershed

The pattern is Shifty. I changed just about all of it. It’s supposed to be a pullover, but I wanted a cardigan. I added a steek and I’ll cut it apart after it’s blocked. It supposed to be sport weight and this yarn is closer to worsted. So I had to go up a couple of needle sizes and down a couple of sweater sizes. But it fits just fine. Thank you Kyle for suggesting this fix!!

I’m currently working on the sleeves. I’m doing these two at a time, in a way. I’m doing a group of blips and then moving to the opposite sleeve and doing the same blips on that side. That way I’m keeping better track of the decreases and I’m using the same color rotation.

I’m hoping to finish this within 3 weeks. Maybe sooner? I have to finish the sleeves, stabilize the steek with crochet, block, cut, figure out buttons and make button holes. I think I’m not going to do a button band but rather crochet loops. Then it will be done!!

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Local Color–Walnut

I’m starting to do my natural dye experiments for a truly “Fibershed” yarn. The base is our new Polypay worsted. It is made from fleeces grown at a partner farm in Virginia and spun in Pennsylvania.

First I gathered the whole black walnuts on our property. I cracked the husks off the nuts. (I really thought I took a photo of this step, but alas not). Then I soaked those husks for about a month.

In the dyepot

Wednesday, I heated the dye liquor up and put in 2-color skeins and a semi-solid skeins. I heated them for at least an hour. Dyeing with walnuts doesn’t need a mordant as the tanin in the dye is mordant enough. Then I let the pot cool down and let it sit for another day. Then on to rinsing and drying the yarn.

semi-solid and 2 color experiments

I think these look great. The pot still contains a lot of dye, so I’ll be using it until it’s exhausted. I’ll do some other 2-color experiments with maybe some madder or some cochineal too. Those would look nice. Stay tuned!!