It's been a year!! My One-Year Celebration wearing local and upcycled clothing will take place at the Monadnock Food Co-op Earth Day Event - where it all started!
Taking on the Challenge
It's almost one year since I started wearing local, swapped, and upcycled clothing. It has been such a learning experience and surprising in many ways. One thing that is absolutely true is I have so enjoyed sharing and learning from others.
A year ago I had only just read Rebecca Burgess' book, Fibershed, when I began my challenge. I didn't understand sheep and their breed-specific requirements. I couldn't even name a pure fiber sheep, mixed fiber and meat, or a true meat breed. Knit and crochet? I had never knitted and had not crocheted anything beyond a scarf for decades! But, I didn't let that stop me. I was a dog with a bone and I was going to make it work!!
It's Going to take Time - Let's Start with Where it Began
I am not going to call myself an expert in any of those areas now, but I have learned and connected with so many wonderful people and places I want to spend some time looking back and reflecting. This will take more than one post. So for this one, I will look back to what I knew and didn't know on Earth Day 2022 and how I made a few adjustments that allowed me to make it through the year.
Local Only? Didn't Turn out that Way
Why was it so difficult to wear only local? A few reasons really but a big one was the fiber produced regionally is typically for colder weather clothing. Most sheep breeds raised in the region were not the ultra-fine merino used to make summer-wear wool clothing.
I was able to find NY merino fiber I love, but colder weather typical means a thicker fiber fleece. The mixed merino breeds that thrive in this climate aren't quite so fine as breeds that exist in warmer, drier climates.
Australia and the Western US, with their dry, warm weather, produce finer fleeces. They are host to large mills to spin these fibers into very fine yarn, which is machine knitted into garments.
Comparable sheep and facilities are missing in the Northeastern US. And to be honest, some of the really fine fleeced sheep aren't suited for this climate. I had to embrace the sheep that find a home here and allow fiber farmers to make a profit.
I also realized lace-weight merino I could find regionally meant hand-knitting or crocheting, which is very time consuming with this very fine yarn. So I widened my clothing to upcycled and swapped garments.
Swap & UpCycled Clothing
During the last year, I held one swap event. I hoped to hold more but life has gotten in the way. However, that single swap gave me a pair of linen pants I wore to work most days during the summer.
Other days I wore my crocheted wool skirt and a dress I purchased from dead stock material made in MA. So, it was like purchasing a garment made from upcycled material! (What's dead stock material? Leftover, or un-purchased material that mills created but didn't sell.)
Less Really is More
It was amazing to me how easy it was to wear less. It eased the hassle of figuring out what to wear AND bonus---my electricity usage went down! I was airing out and using textile tonic spray to wash my garments less. I finally had cut the tie from laundry detergent companies that told me I HAD to wash garments after every wear.
Want to Talk?
If you're fiber-curious, I'll be at the Monadnock Food Co-op Earth Day Event Saturday, April 22 from 12-4 reflecting on my experience AND challenging others to try to wear more local, swapped, and upcycled clothing.
At my table, you'll also find a fun, little giveaway. Need a set of needle ends for knitting projects? Just grab a pair from me! I've been repurposing corks and will have them in a bowl for knitters that don't drink wine. One more way to incorporate reuse into our fiber philosophy!
The Festival will also have delicious, local food, live entertainment, a Drive Electric Expo, and tons of other locally themed excitement going on. I hope I'll see you there!
P.S. One more takeaway from this year before I go...
You can also upcycle from your own closet! Don't let the fact that something doesn't fit you any longer stop you from making some adjustments and wearing it again!
Next time I'll show you the three pairs of pants taken from my closet and reborn into jeans and pants I wore during my challenge!