The Year Begins…

“the garments” from Zoe Minikes on Vimeo.

A working wardrobe now exists.

The making of most of the garments began in June– it all started with one shirt, and one pair of pants…. I wore them for three weeks.   There were some interesting sensory moments when the clothes were being washed– realizing that without those garments– there was just me and my skin.

I didn’t think of the necessity of my clothes, until I didn’t have them.  (I recommend that as you rise tomorrow morning, try to delay the wearing of your  clothes for a few moments– pretend you might have to spend your entire day without them– and then ask yourself– what would my day be like?)

It only took my body a few seconds to become completely grateful for textiles.

Because I started wearing the clothes in the summer, I was kept warm by air temperatures, and was not dependent on being covered from head to toe– a sleeveless top, and short pair of pants sufficed well.  At first having just that shirt and that pair of pants brought a combination of relief (a relief that I had something to wear), and fear– like, what do I do when the fog comes, or the wind sweeps through– and I become cold?

When the second pair of pants came along.. life became very exciting… and then another shirt arrived… a scarf, a cowl, a hat.. a skirt… some legwarmers.. some underwear…slowly and consistently pieces were designed, cut, sewn, knit and crocheted into being by the hands of Amber, Molly, Monica, Mali, Thara, Kerry, Sue, Zara, Allison, and me.  Together we created a wardrobe from the fleeces of local sheep– and with the great assistance of a cotton farmer.  The cotton fabric was, in part, milled at the old Richmond-based Athena mill (back in early 90’s).

The summer wardrobe reminds the designers and I that this fabric is no longer being made… we were fortunate to work with a vestige of manufacturing history (when there were mills in operation in our region).  We could not have begun our project with any sort of immediacy without these milled fabrics. Proving to us– that if we are to have a viable fibershed– we will need to be able to mill cotton again, here some day.

Now that I have a cozy 8 garment wardrobe (with some accessories), there is a solid foundation for everyday life– nothing too fancy, or too rugged (winter garments are still being made). As the weeks and months move along, we will have new additions to share with you, that build upon this basic framework that has been created.

The stories of alpaca, angora, cashmere… and so many more herds of sheep are yet to come.

For now, I am warm– but not too warm, I can run in the hills, bike to town, teach children, do a cartwheel or two.. I’m covered, well covered, and am very honored to be living and wearing the bounty of my fibershed.

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9 thoughts on “The Year Begins…

  1. Congrats! Your project is very inspirational. Here in the Pacific Northwest our local fibre group is going to try processing nettles this fall. Apparently a silky smooth fibre is obtainable.

  2. this is super, i’m following with great interest. …and rebecca, my indigo never got started, so i will save till next year. (my greenhouse friend forgot.) i’m having some exciting results with ice flower dyeing.

  3. Fascinating project! Although I’ve spun/woven in the distant past, my longtime focus has been to source/recycle vintage textiles in both my art work and clothing. Most fabrics I use are pristine deadstock vintage, some salvaged before heading to landfills and all found no further than 50 miles from home. I think using vintage old stock textiles fits the criteria of this experiment. I’m interested in your thoughts on this.

    1. So nice to hear about your work! Recycled and vintage fabrics are a key to our sustainable textile future! This particular project was narrowed to the research question- What local farmers are here, in my region, growing fibers that I could use to clothe myself? And also, who are the artisans? Are there mills? Could there be jobs focused on soil– to finished good, done organically? I would love to see someone do a public project on the use of vintage– and like you, source this material from your local community. We need to change the industry on all fronts.. locally grown and made, recycled, better-made, longer-lasting.. all important aspects of the transformation! Thank you for your work!!

    1. Hi Nicole!

      We are taking pictures this Friday, so there will be detailed entries on each garment, and its maker!! Thanks for the request!

      1. thanks so much for posting the video – such beautiful pieces and colors. i’m especially partial to all of those cozy scarves! hope you’re keeping warm in your lovely clothing.

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