Caribou Skin Clothing Beats High-Tech Expedition Clothing

caribou skin clothing“Inuit elders continually stress the importance of wearing caribou skin clothing whenever travelling out on the land in the fall, winter, or spring. They believe caribou skin clothing provides protection from extremely cold weather that is superior to fabric ensembles recommended for the Arctic by some manufacturers. Inuit have used caribou skin clothing since pre-historic times. The purpose of this research was to collect laboratory and ethnographic data on the thermal comfort of Inuit-made caribou skin clothing, and expedition clothing produced for arctic travellers.”

“There were no significant differences in changes over time between the military and expedition clothing ensembles with either the perception of comfort data or the skin temperature data; therefore, these data are grouped together. Findings indicate that the overall skin temperature, as well as the cheek, thigh, toe, and torso temperatures, remained significantly higher when wearing the caribou skin ensemble compared to changes observed when wearing the military or expedition clothing ensembles.”

Comparison of traditional and manufactured cold weather ensembles (PDF), Jill Oakes, in Climate Research, February 23, 1995. The paper might be a bit outdated, but it is interesting to read. Picture: Inuit woman’s winter suit, pre-1927 at Liverpool Museums. More about caribou skin clothing at Gates of the Arctic. Thanks to Jon Freise.

Related: Insulation: first the body, then the home.

Pedal Powered Un-Knitting Machine

pedal powered un-knitting machine

“A highly unusual bicycle, designed to help recycle unwanted woollen clothes, unravels any clothing item back into its pre-knitted form. It has been selected as one of the best student design projects of 2012 by the British National Centre for Craft and Design.”

“The un-knitting machine is based on pedal power and built around an old bicycle frame. The un-knitter sits on a chair pedalling and wool passes through steam coming out of a kettle before being collected on a spindle. The machine was designed by Imogen Hedges, a student at Kingston University.” Read more. Via Treehugger.


Locally Farmed Clothing: The Fibershed Project

“In 1965, 95% of the clothing in a typical American’s closet was made in America. Today less than 5% of our clothes are made here. Unfortunately, this huge movement of the industry was not prompted by a desire for higher standards of production, economic equity for laborers, or tight environmental regulation. It was done to circumvent the policies, unions, and costs associated with doing business on shore. We have off-shored the effects of our consumption, which has led to a great disconnect of the actual environmental and social costs of our clothing.”

Fibershed 5“A bioregional supply chain known as a Fibershed aims to bring a thriving local alternative to conventional textile manufacturing systems and to support communities in reviving, sustaining, and networking their raw material base with skilled design and artisanal textile talent.”

“The Fibershed project began in 2010 with a one-year challenge to create an experimental wardrobe from fibers, dye plants, and local labor all sourced from within 150 miles of the project headquarters. As the wardrobe was constructed over the one-year period, so, too, was the network of artisans and farmers responsible for its creation.”

“The garments were primarily hand-constructed. The rural region proved to be rich in raw materials: word-class alpaca, the finest merino wools, color-grown cottons, and the softest angora. The design talent from the urban sector was abundant in skills, experience, and passion. Many of the essential elements necessary to engage a bioregional supply were in place: the animals, plants and people. However, the necessary machinery to produce conventional clothing was nowhere to be found. The group relied on time-honored skills that artisans throughout time have relied upon to make cloth: spinning wheels, knitting needles, and floor looms.”

“We at Fibershed hope our model can serve as a guide for other communities interested in increasing their resiliency and self-sufficiency. We also hope it offers inspiration that sustainable, local solutions for almost any product or service can be successfully developed by those willing to dream big and put in the sweat work to make it a reality.”

Read more: Fibershed – local fibers, local dyes, local labor. Via Energy Bulletin.

Dealing With Holes

“Woolfiller repairs holes and hides stains in woollen jumpers, cardigans, jackets and carpets, for example. How? Through embracing the specific character of wool. The fibres of wool contain miniscule scales which open up when they are pricked with a felt needle. The open scales bind with each other and will not be separated. Not even in the wash. Woolfiller can be used with a special machine or with the hand. It is simple, sustainable and satisfying. A new solution for an age old problem.” Thank you, Adriana.

You Can’t Live With or Without Them: Clothes

Carl_Larsson_Model_writing_postcards_1906 Winter: Save on heating by insulating your body.
Summer: Save on AC by going naked.