Friday, January 20, 2006

In Praise of Natural Fibres

It's cold where I live. We are quite used to having two or three weeks of -45 Celsius around this time of year, though this year, we have been spoiled by a warm winter. Until today. I woke up to -30 Celcius and ice fog. A bit of a shock after -5 or 10, but not entirely unexpected for Fort McMurray.

So, in order to walk the two blocks to physio this morning, I layered up in: thermaply long johns, cotton socks, handknit wool socks, jeans, a cotton tee shirt, a handknit alpaca sweater, a wool coat, a handspun and handknit angora and merino blend hooded scarf, wool-lined leather gloves and handspun and handknit cashmere half-gloves. I did not feel cold at all, though my eyelashed and bangs frosted up something fierce.

And as I was walking, I realized that only my longjohns were not made of natural fibres. I'm not really sure what "thermaply" is--I've had these longjohns for about 10 years now, so the packaging is long gone, but that what the tag in the back says they are made of.

I am a fibre snob--make no mistake. I love my merino, my cashmere, my camelid fibres. But this morning, I am especially grateful that I have access to, and the skill to use, these marvelous gifts from our furry friends. I am proud that I was able to create a warm cocoon to protect myself from the elements. My snobbery has been vindicated.

About a year ago, I was advised by a salesperson in a fairly high-end ladies' fashion store that the wool pants that I was purchasing were on sale because "no one wants wool anymore--it's so hard to look after". Rubbish. I throw my wool in the washing machine (cold wash, gentle cycle!). I have pieces that I knitted 20 years ago that still look new and keep me warmer than all those scratchy, pilly acrylic things that have come and gone over those 20 years. I love my warm woollies! I want wool. And alpaca. And cashmere (especially cashmere!). And lowly, humble cotton to protect my tender skin from the itchier woolly bits.

Do yourself a favor and wear wool. And cotton. And cashmere (especially cashmere!).

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