Think REALLY locally, like just barely beyond the borders of your own body

10 07 2011

When I began Pocktorian Textiles in the UK, I had two objectives. One was to provide a way for local textile graduates and artisans to start their own businesses and find a sufficient market for their work by sharing equipment, ideas, and selling space. The other was to provide locals a place where they could come to find the work of local designers and makers and providers of things like locally produced yarns.

I imagined the possibility of Norwichers being able to say that a large proportion of what they were wearing was made locally, as it would have been not that long ago. Even in the 1800’s, Norwich was known for its weaving, and I’m sure that a large proportion of the cloth used locally would have come from local weavers. I could be wrong, of course.

Perhaps I was thinking on too large a scale. Perhaps I should have been thinking on a scale not much larger than my own body, as Rebecca Burgess, of Marin County, California did when she decided that for a whole year, she would wear only clothes spun, dyed, and knitted within 150 miles of her front door.

It’s an idea similar to the one I’ve toyed with every time I spent time with a Dharma Trading catalog, even more so since they began carrying yarn for you to dye or paint yourself.

I imagine using their blank clothing, fabric, and yarn to to create a wardrobe for myself. I’d keep the items I have in my wardrobe from other makers, and I’d be open to buying more such goods, perhaps even commission some since my hand-knitting is so blasted slow.

It’ll have to wait. So far, I’m too busy finding a way to earn my share of the household funds to do that, and it’s not happening by my selling the things I make.

I know that my Dharma idea isn’t nearly as ecological as Ms. Burgess’ one, but I tend to choose skills other than sewing at least at the moment. I also wouldn’t really like to give up all silk and most or all cotton. I doubt I could find either being grown or spun, other than handspun, within 150 miles of my home, though I think alpaca is a possibility.

What about you? If you thought just beyond the borders of your own body, and set yourself to construct a locally produced wardrobe, how would you go about it? What restrictions would you place on yourself? What dispensations? (I would not attempt to find a locally made bra that satisfied my requrements.)