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! in search of natural clothing - especially winter gear

 
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I got halfway through reading everyone's bits here and had to stop and ask something.
I really love the idea of buying oversized wool pants at the thrift store and felting them to make for myself something warm and wonderful. I also love the layering idea first because I understand that that helps with warmth but also because I must be allergic to wool fibers because I cant stand to have it on my skin for any length of time its so so itchy.
So here is what I am wondering.
Should I have underneath those felted wool pants a silk pant (or some other thin comfy fiber) and should it be tight or loose?
I ask because for some reason long johns always seems that the crotch ends up half way down my leg and its really disconcerting to be walking around that way.  I suppose its because of the stretch relaxing, or maybe I just don't have enough hip to hold them up! Loose pants seem to be the better answer to me, with a drawstring or elastic waist. I also wondered if the loose pants would make little folds all over inside the wool pant causing warm air pockets which a tight form fitting long john wouldn't do? Perhaps elastic or drawstring at the ankle also to keep drafts out?
Any thoughts?
 
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Should I have underneath those felted wool pants a silk pant (or some other thin comfy fiber) and should it be tight or loose?



Loose is better, definitely.  I think the reason long johns are tight is more to do with looking fit, stylish and hot in that winter outfit than for warmth.  If the long johns crotch is down too low you definitely need a bigger size!  I've found that an old pair of sweat pants work really well, if my pants are big enough and I'm not going to get wet.

As a funny aside, my brother borrowed my wetsuit (one piece, full lenth bottom and tank top top) to go skiing one day  because it was -20 F (about -30 C) and windy.  He wore the wetsuit against his skin and came back and reported the wet suit was wonderful and he was the warmest guy on the mountain.... until he had to pee.  There was no opening in the front to pee.  In order to pee he had to disrobe completely down to around his knees, on top of the mountain, in the wind, exposing his tender,  moist skin.  He said at that point he nearly froze to death and was pretty sure he was peeing icicles.  He got so cold that he said he never really warmed up again.  The lesson is, the little things matter, like how are you going to perform when nature calls.
 
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Forgive me if I missed a previous mention of it - but it is worth noting that a lot if wool winter gear (icebreakers, smartwool, probably others) are made with superwash wool. Superwash is a treatment that makes the wool not felt when you machine wash it, anf makes it super soft. It consists of treating the wool with chlorine gas (some sites say acid) and/or coating it in plastic resin.
So, if you are looking to avoid petroleum, even undyed superwash yarn won’t fit the bill.
 
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I learned a lot about superwash this summer.  I didn't think I would ever change my mind about it, but learning how it's actually produced and how much benefit it has on the world of textiles, made a huge difference.

Superwash has the big advantage of making machine washable wool - so people who would normally buy petroleum and synthetic based clothing, now buy wool instead.  It's saved the woollen industry.  Superwash wool is Worlds better than petroleum but not as good as untreated wool.

Imagine a scale.  Top is more good for the environment, the bottom is less good.  If industrial cotton is about half an inch higher than synthetic clothing, and organic cotton about four inches higher than that.  Superwash wool is about 180 miles better than synthetic clothing.  Untreated wool is about an inch better than superwash wool.  Superwash wool gets an extra 12 miles because it is a gateway fibre for people who would otherwise buy synthetic clothing.  

There are lots of different ways to produce Superwash.  The 'glue' used to produce superwash in the US, according to my instructor - one of the top experts in the American Wool Industry - is the same glue used to seal tea bags.  It takes less of this glue to make a sweater than it does to brew a cuppa tea.  Like tea bags are better than soft drinks, but not as good as loose tea, they are a stepping stone to a healthier life.


I avoid superwash wool because untreated wool has more of the qualities that make wool wonderful.  However, I was delighted to hear my visiting family member say this Holiday season, about the new wool shirts he's buying.  A solid level zero point five on the Eco-scale, superwash wool introduced him to a whole new world of caring about the environmental impact of his clothes.  He's even talking about buying an organic cotton shirt and maybe even something made of linen for work.  Speaking about work, he works in the artic part of the year (during the winter) and loves his superwash wool shirt so much that he's going to insist that everyone is issued with this instead of the synthetic stuff the "southerners" (aka, below the artic circle) bring.  That's nearly a thousand people switching from synthetic to wool.

All because of one superewash shirt.  

 
Mick Fisch
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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.



I've learned something new!  Woo Hoo!  What a great concept.  I'm excited to tell my wife and daughters about this.  They are the knitters in the family.
 
Lina Joana
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If I understand Paul’s rules correctly, I suspect that tea bags will not be used either.
I’m a bit surprised that the coating on an entire sweater is less than the glue on a single tea bag. R Ranson, do you have a reference for that? Or for the process as a whole? I have been curious about the process for awhile, but have had trouble fining more than vague descriptions.
 
r ranson
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I understand that industrial secrets are involved so I don't have a secondary reference.  Just my instructor who works with that mill and is highly regarded in the wool industry.  She showed us photos she took of the process, but the scope of the seminar was on handling wool from the time it come off the sheep until it gets to the mill or artisan.

Superwash isn't something I would use in my own life, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating, or so they say.  It has proven to be a gateway fibre for getting people away from synthetic.  Given that clothing takes up half of the agricultural carbon footprint (carbon farming solution), not including the damage transport and synthetic do to the world, I'm very happy that superwash exists.

A bit like recycling, really.  It's not as good for the world as other solutions, but it's a starting place to get people in the right mindset.
 
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Haha-- buckskin overalls, Paul?
 
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would like a duster type over cost, it can be oilcloth (cotton) or Leather & wax.
But I do not know any craft persons who can make this, no I am not near able for anything like that.
 
pollinator
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Since we are in the beginning of winter weather I'm curious.. Jocelyn, did you have any items prioritized on this list? Like you're going to need X item replaced soonest or would really love better X item?
 
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Keeping this response strictly aligned to natural fabrics, I personally can only recommend two types.  My favorite natural winter fabrics are wool and silk.  Wool is obvious.  Silk might make some people scratch their heads and give me some funny looks.  

But silk is a great, GREAT base layer.  Clearly it is soft and smooth and therefore comfortable next to the skin.  It also is surprisingly warm while having absolutely no bulk so it is great for layering.  It sits close to the skin without being tight, thereby creating dead air, exactly what one wants from an insulator.

I try to avoid cotton.  Even though it is soft and fuzzy, it soaks up water (from the environment and your own body) and in doing so becomes more conducive of heat—exactly what you don’t want.

Eric
 
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Hemp is a possibility as seen from this Etsy post.  Their post has outer raincoat like fabric but they state they can make both sides hemp.  It uses hemp fur and filler, I am sure that hemp thread could be found.  You just need a seamstress.
Screenshot_20210110-154303.png
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20210110-154303.png]
 
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#222 & 224

Have we considered thrift and secondhand shops? I've been scouring them for 100% natural fibers and always go home with some sort of prize, be it a merino wool sweater, cashmere scarf, silk/wool cardigan, or wool poncho. It requires a bit of time, say a hour of looking at tags, but the thrill of the hunt cannot matched.
 
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Early colonists wore “linsey-woolsey”.
Linsey-woolsey is a coarse twill or plain-woven fabric woven with a linen warp and a woollen weft. Similar fabrics woven with a cotton warp and woollen weft in Colonial America were also called linsey-woolsey or wincey. These people make this 18th century fabric for re-enactors.
https://www.applecartcreations.com/pages/linsey-woolsey
 
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Fabrizia Annunziata wrote:

soft wools rather than itchy



I am not an expert on woolen fibers but I have a sense that a lot depends on the quality of the wool and how it is processed.  

Cashmere is the warmest I believe and if the manufacturing is high quality most people do not find it itchy.



Ditch the Itch as a hipster might opine. This is a case for layers.

* Silk undergarmets tops and bottoms.
* Barrier layer to protect the undergarmets. In the US, denim is the essential choice. Any tough barrier would suffice.
* Thin wicking layer. Gortex is superior but alas it is not a natural fiber. Thin wool sweater is the natural alternative. Just be sure that there is a way for moisture to escape.
* Inner shell. Down jacket. Critical that it not become moist or it totally loses its heat retention properties.
* Outer shell. A material that sheds water which can eliminate most natural fibers.

US Army Survival Training guide, Pg 176 -- https://thesurvivalmom.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/FM_21-76-US-army-survival-manual.pdf



 
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Try shopping at the Vermont Country Store for natural and wool underwear.  They have some traditional styles.
Tounsend and Sons has everything you need.  
Both have online catalogs of high quality stuff.
 
pollinator
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In the mostly wet, not so very cold, winters in the Netherlands layering is the best solution too. My skin isn't sensible, I can wear wool underwear (there's a Danish brand, Dilling, which I can order online). I am busy knitting my own too, from unraveled fine merino second-hand sweaters, but that takes a lot of time.
Most of my clothes are second hand, in thrift stores I look for anything natural, including cotton, as long as it's of the right quality. I always look for wool, but it's a rare find.
My outer layer NEEDS to be really watertight, so it's 'plastic' ...
 
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I am really happy about my down coat on really cold days, although on normal winter days I can go with my woolen coat.

If I had to buy something new and I had the cash (I would be willing to spend the cash) I would order from this young German company who uses wool fleece as insulation in modern winterwear:
https://nordwolle.com/
Their garments are very stylish:
https://nordwolle.shop/damen/3dx/perchta-steppmantel
(ETA that the garments are only made from certified cotton and local sheep fleece, no polyfibers)

Apart from that, I layer. Never without a long pantyhose (or however you call it), knitted socks, a woolen sweater - in the house. More to go outside, of course!
 
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I am a big fan of "Hemp Hoodlamb". I have had my winter parka for 15 years now and it is still going. They are very warm and durable. Here is some info from eco pruner:

"Hoodlamb is a revolutionary Dutch clothing company that specializes in hemp-based winter wear and outerwear apparel. They were the first brand to create a winter jacket made out of hemp. This was their original vision long before they were the brand that they are today. Now, they boast a wide range of stylish hemp clothing that caters to all occasions and seasons.

Hoodlamb was born from the Dutch North Sea when a group of surfers found themselves unable to find a jacket that could cater to all of their needs. The surfers unanimously agreed that they wanted something that would keep them warm, but would not be destroyed if worn immediately after getting out of the notoriously cold North Sea water. They also wanted it to be a product that was in harmony with the environment – something that would fit in with their lifestyle of connecting to nature. Some of the surfers were cannabis users with a high interest in the uses of cannabis beyond its recreational purposes.
They started to experiment with hemp fabric and hemp-based furs. Soon, their idea materialized as Hoodlamb’s first winter jacket. It embodied their lifestyle and morals, was functional for what they needed, and was even fitted with a double zipper to make it possible to wear while changing out of a wetsuit.

A few miles inland from the North Sea, Hoodlamb’s headquarters can now be found in Amsterdam. Hoodlamb has been around since 1993 but their business has grown and changed drastically from their humble beach beginnings."

https://ecopruner.com/fashion/sustainable-fashion-reviews/hoodlamb/
 
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