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Of the 3 basic needs that are my current focus and that of this blog, I’ve not yet written about clothing. That doesn’t mean it feels less important or that I have not been giving it due attention. More I believe it is because of humankind’s basic needs, we are most removed from self-sufficiency in this area. As such, it feels daunting.
It’s not too hard to find examples of people that have built their own homes, or at least played a part in the construction. Nor is it difficult to find gardeners/farmers who provide for some to all of their food needs. But I have yet to meet a person who makes all of their own clothing.
There is a lot to think about when it comes to clothing. Probably the most primitive example of clothing is buckskin made from animal hide. This is still done and many people have buckskin clothing made for them. It is an awesome way to make use of more parts of animals sacrificed for our needs. But would you want buckskin underwear? Would you want to wear it all the time? That stuff is warm in the summertime!
Fiber animals also give of themselves to help clothe us. Most commonly used animal fibers come from sheep, llama, alpaca, goat and angora rabbits. All of these fibers have different properties and are often used in blends to achieve yarns for specific uses. To get there, the animals are sheared resulting in a fleece which must be cleaned, carded and then spun into usable yarns. This is done commercially for the most part but if one wants to be more connected to the process (and this one does) than one can plan on devoting a significant amount of time to the endeavor. Then there are the plant fibers usually from cotton, flax (linen), bamboo and hemp. I haven’t even investigated silkworms but since we already have worms in the master bathroom, what’s a few more? And if you want color, well then you must consider plants, such as indigo, which can be grown locally. Or bugs. But that’s another story.
Of course knitters, weavers and crocheters regularly make garments for themselves and others. This alone, I know from personal experience, is a daunting (though rewarding) task and I BOUGHT my yarn at a local store. The piece in the photo is made of cotton. For the process to be considered self-sufficient, I would have to have grown that cotton, harvested it, dyed it by some natural means and then spun it into yarn before beginning the multiple month crochet project. Yikes! Maybe if I had though, I’d have enough cotton yarn leftover to knit up a pair of underwear or two!
I admit to feeling somewhat overwhelmed by all of this and I haven’t yet considered footwear. Even if we return to the days when people just have a few changes of clothing it’s a mind-full to consider self-sufficient ways to provide for them. On the other hand, the resulting clothing would be local, relatively non-toxic and likely much appreciated. Given all that is involved, I know I for one would take awfully good care of it!
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