Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Slow Fashion October, Week 5: Known
Week 5, October 26-31: KNOWN
favorite sustainable resources / “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos
I haven't purchased a lot of yarn or fabric this year, but one of my goals was to focus on buying American-made supplies whenever possible. As Karen mentioned, yarn is the easiest. Things are really improving in the fiber world right now, in regards to being able to know where your yarn comes from. Having said that, most of the yarn I own is from KnitPicks and other not-very-traceable sources. I'm knitting through my stash (which is currently the smallest it's been in a couple of years, and I'm really happy about that!), but when I do buy yarn, I'm trying to be more selective.
Shown above are the yarns in my stash that are the most traceable. In the top picture, I have some Finn/Jacob handspun made from incredibly local fiber (less than an hour away). There are also two skeins of Quince & Co. Lark (US wool), and a skein of Esopus from Jill Draper Makes Stuff (100% American grown and spun). In the second picture, there's a skein from Tale Spun Yarns that I bought on our weekend trip to Tennessee in the spring...I am so excited to make socks with this yarn! It's a blend of Corriedale and Rambouillet wool and nylon: the wool was raised in Tennessee, the yarn was spun in an American mill, and it was hand dyed in TN. And finally, there's the pink yarn. It's from some raw Cheviot fleece (raised in the US) that I scoured, hand carded, spun, and dyed naturally with pokeberries.
In the third picture are my only knitted items so far made from traceable yarn: my Irish Oats socks (made from Quince & Co. Chickadee), an alpaca hat (Rooted yarn- the alpacas were raised here in Virginia and the yarn was spun in North Carolina), and my recently finished FreshMint hat (knitted from organic Merino, naturally dyed by Liesl).
There's a really good list of yarn sources on this week's post at Fringe Association (check the comments, too). There's also another list here. Two American companies that I'm planning on purchasing my next sweaters' quantities worth of yarn from are Bartlett Yarns and Beaverslide.
But fabric? That's another story. It seems almost impossible to find out where fabric is made, and under what conditions. So far the only luck I've had is with Girl Charlee. Almost all of my t-shirts are made from jersey fabric that I've bought from them, and they carry some fabric that's made in America. (There doesn't seem to be any way to search for that...you just have to look at the listing for the fabric you're interested in to see if it has the American made emblem.) If you're making jeans, you can find fabric from Cone Denim Mills online (here and here, for example), and it's made in North Carolina. Other than that, I haven't been able to find any fabric in my price range that clearly states where it's made. You can find some organic cotton online, but it's usually made in India, so you have to decide what's more important: organic or American made. If anyone has any more fabric recommendations, I'd love to hear them!
As for reference books, films, and videos, I feel like most people who are interested in slow fashion already know about the ones I'm going to mention, but I'm going to recommend them anyway. :) Elizabeth L. Cline's book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is a great starting point. I've also heard amazing things about the documentary The True Cost, though I personally haven't been able to see it yet. There are a few videos online that are definitely worth watching: Unravel (a look at just how much we waste, and how some of our castoff clothing is being recycled into thread in India), The High Cost of Cheap Clothes (how women in Cambodia are choosing prostitution rather than working in garment factories), and Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion (a subtitled five-part series where Norwegian teenagers who love fashion visit garment factories in Cambodia).