Thursday, 10 January 2013

Humans, Hobbits and Hairy Yarns

If you’re not a fan of Tolkien’s magical sagas, then at least familiarise yourself with a picture of a Hobbit.  This, I discovered earlier this week, is whatwe will have to become if we’re to survive in a climate changed world.  Personally, though I’m not so much bigger than a Hobbit now, so perhaps I’ll be OK!  I am beginning to wonder about my physical make-up though, having read an article about marketing utilising one’s hormones to define potential product preferences.  Research by Diana Derval and colleagues has revealed that pre-natal hormonal influences may give some of us a propensity for amplified senses which affect our choices. 
Apparently some of us hear sounds four times louder than our fellow beings, and some are six times more sensitive to textures.  I must be one of the latter, since any guard hairs unwittingly left in commercially-produced yarn seem to stand out like barbs to me when I put a sweater on, or sit on a garment or chair covering made from certain types of fabrics.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t be without wool, especially if, as the weather forecasters say, global warming in the UK will be more like global cooling and bring us more Siberian-style winters.  But it’s just there are some fibres I find harder to take unless I’ve had a hand in preparing them myself. 

Recycling unwanted textiles, itchy or not, seems to be big business these days, if DEFRA’s Rags to Riches campaign video is anything to go by.  Too much textile material is still ending up in landfill – 350,000 tonnes of it in fact – so we’re being encouraged to recycle more and also take a more ‘repair and restore’ attitude to clothing, as our grandmothers and great-grandmothers were doubtless well versed in doing.  The high turnover in low quality cheap clothing can’t be helping the environment across the global supply chain, including the landfill sites of our very small island.  So how to change attitudes? 

Perhaps everyone in major resource-consuming communities should be put back in touch with their textile roots through some kind of ‘national fabric service’ in which they have to grow, harvest, dye, spin and weave their own textiles for a short while.  That could put the perceived value back into textiles. Maybe Design & Technology teachers could take a step back in the textile ingenuity chain to humankind’s evolution of thread.  Or at the very least maybe the Craft Council’s Craft Clubs could get all ages at school trying spindles and making the yarn they use for their knit & crochet projects.  Ah well, better get off my soap-box (or should I say, sewing box!) and return to the world where my every personal fibre will be analysed still further by market researchers. Here's wishing you a beneficial and analytical week ahead, with few interferences from life's little guard hairs. 

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