An annotated bibliography

A short list of resources on ecology in textiles.

1. Over-Dressed, The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion

Cline, E.L. (2013). Over-Dressed (2nd ed.). New York: Penguin.

This is a great book as a first look into the fashion industry and the true cost of clothing manufacture. It breifly touches on alternatives, but is mostly focused on the big name brands and high street stores. Although the book is written for an American audience the situation is very similar to fashion in the UK. It’s an easy book to read through as a whole, but also good to dip into the sections you want to look at. Mostly aimed at a commercial designer, it does make you think about your own practice.

2. Upcycling

Seo, D. (2011). Upcycling. Philadelphia: Running Press.

A book of several small projects for mainly household ideas. Most of the ideas are interesting and physically appealing and the projects are designed for all levels. I liked the use of old cassette tape and CD cases, but wonder how effective some of the projects are if we are having buy a lot of new stuff to upcycle something. The book though has a lot of ideas to start you off with and for once, it’s not about fashion.

3. The Sustainable Fashion Handbook

Black, S. (2012). The sustainable fashion handbook. London: Thames & Hudson.

I had a bit of a problem with a book too large to fit into my rucksack calling itself a handbook, and I doubt I would borrow it from the library. However, once space has been found to read the book you find it’s actually interesting. Short 1-2 page quick reads about designers and their approach to sustainable and ecological fashion. Pages of quotes from designers and consumers on what they understand about sustainability mixed with fashion photos and interesting questions like would a pay per load washing machine make a difference? This is a book you need to dip in and out of on a regular basis, and I can also appreciate it’s size, it just wouldn’t do as a small book. It’s not a book I want to lug home, but I hope no one else does either. I hope it stays in the library where I can keep having quick looks at.

4. From Wool to Waulking

Kennedy, N. (2014). From wool to waulking [DVD]. USA

Norman Kennedy is one of the best resources for taking a fleece and turning it into a woven fabric without using modern means. Now in his 70’s Norman learnt his skills from traditional spinners and weavers in his teenage years in the highlands. his knowledge of the history of spinning in a traditional way goes right to the times when it was still done as part of daily life. There is a sense that his way is the only way to do things, in a sense this can put you off by thinking newer techniques are the wrong way, what he knows is how the women of the Scottish highlands made fabric, but not the differences around the world. If you can accept that his way is just one way of many then the DVD is a fantastic source of seeing the traditional way of making without waste.

5. Three Bags Full

Mackenzie, J. (2014). Three bags full [DVD]. USA

Judith Mackenzie is similar to Norman Kennedy in that she has come from a tradition of spinning, but while she knows a lot about the old techniques she also appreciates the newer ways of spinning wool. The DVD shows you how to select a fleece from a sheep fair, how to spot illness or stress in the sheep and what to avoid in choosing fleeces. Several ways of washing and sorting a fleece are looked at including the fermenting way which saves water. It’s a good DVD for those wanting to understand the different breeds and how to select a breed for the item you want to make. Judith also talks about a worsted yarn and how to make a true worsted rather than semi worsted yarn.

Published by bettyvirago

Betty Virago is an award winning textile designer. Based in Yorkshire, England, and known for her Northern Folk dolls and the Quilts of Hope project.

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