Local Wear

A few years ago a started knitting. I’d learned as a child but never developed the skill. This time around when I started I was just looking for something to do when I was watching (too much) TV. I’ve thankfully weaned myself off of the tele and am into knitting now in a big way.

Not long after I started I set the goal of learning to knit socks.  Living with a contrarian, I’m often reminded that the conveniences of modern life may not always be available. If (or when) the economy really crashed, society would take a big turn and we’d be living in a world with fewer industrial niceties. Somehow, for me making socks symbolized my ability to be self-sufficient in that new reality. I had the crazy (or was it brilliant?) notion that if I could knit socks I would never be without in the world. I’d be able to create small luxuries for myself and loved ones.

Self-sufficiency manifests in a pair of hand-knit socks.

So, I learned to make socks and I also learned a little about hand-spinning. With a basic knowledge of those two skills I felt better prepared for whatever doom the world might throw at me. Realize, I know it’s not that simple but this small step felt like a leap in the right direction.

Now, nearly a year beyond my first sock success, I’ve also completed one sweater and am working on a  second and third. One of those sweaters has me especially excited because the wool comes from relatively close by: Imperial Stock Ranch in Maupin,Oregon.  As I’ve worked my way through the sweater I’ve become more and more enamored with the wool. They make a nice product, yes indeed, but the fact that ranch is only about 120 miles from home helped grow the romance.

Here was a fabulous yarn from my fibershed. Local. Sustainably grown. With each knit and each purl I became more excited about making my first locally sourced garment. Anyone who has knit a sweater knows that the rows and rows in the body and sleeves can become tedious. BUT, being able to think about those sheep roaming the high desert hills of Oregon, providing their fleece, and supporting a connection to the way things were done before industrialization,  really kept me going.

Beautiful locally grown wool yarn and sweater in progress.

Just as I was starting the second sleeve on this magical sweater, Grist published a short blurb and video that added further depth to my newly found fondness of local fiber. Imagine my glee in learning that: 1) others were exploring and advocating this concept, 2) there was a name for this: local dressing 3)a definition for “fibershed” existed (fibers and dyes from within 150 miles of home) and, 4) there was much more for me to learn and explore.

My new dream is to create a garment from animal to closet. I’d love to be involved in shearing, carding, spinning, dyeing, knitting and wearing even just one piece of clothing. As a kid I was in the FFA (Future Farmers of America) and had the pleasure of helping out at a neighbor’s sheep shearing. To this day I still am reminded of the experience by my the feel of lanolin on my hands.  I’d like to experience that again.

But, more, I’d like to experience the work it takes to accomplish such thing. I have a friend who created a fleece to closet project; she did this as part of a design school project. It always amazed and fascinated me. It, until now, seemed like something impossible. Not so today. I have officially added it to my bucket list.


One thought on “Local Wear

  1. Reblogged this on peregrination and commented:

    This week it was announced that the US Winter Olympic Team would be festooned in all US produced clothing. Not only is the clothing from the US but the fiber itself is too. In fact, it’s from one of my very favorite local fleeces – wool from the Imperial Stock Ranch. I love their wool more than ever having knit 2 more sweaters, and numerous hats and gloves with it. So, in honor of that announcement, I thought I’d reblog this post I did a couple of years ago.

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