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Q&A: sustainable materials and fibers.

Q: I like to knit and quilt in the wintertime, and I'm wondering if there are organic and sustainable fibers and materials I can use for my winter projects?

A: The answer is yes! As the temperature starts to drop, our thoughts turn inward to the sanctuary of the home and the warmth it provides our families and our lives.

Homemade winter accessories, like scarves, hats and gloves, are a perfect way to bring warmth to their creator and recipient in a number of ways, including the love and energy that goes into creating them. And there are many sustainable options. An obvious choice for winter knitting or crochet projects is wool, and you've got several great organic options, even some right here in Western North Carolina. Based in Candler, Lorien alpaca wool is positively scrumptious, a great choice for cozy winter socks. You can even tour the area farm, and, if you're really ready to take sustainability to the next level, you can purchase an alpaca of your very own. The O-Wool line, produced by the Vermont Organic Fiber Company, is another wonderful sustainable wool option for yarns and fabrics that will make you want to stay inside knitting or crocheting all day.

Although it's often thought of as lightweight and breezy, silk is also a great winter fabric option, as it's both warm and versatile. Silk is available in a wide range of colors and textures, but peace silk, or silk produced from cocoons that have already been vacated by their worms, offers an excellent and ethical alternative. Ahimsa Silk is one of the better-known lines of peace silk, blending indulgence and nonviolent intentions.

If quilting supplies are on your crafting wish list, NearSea Naturals offers a number of organic cotton and wool batting options, And, family owned Shepherd's Dream, based in Northern California, produces EcoDomestic wool batting as well as other bedding supplies for the natural crafter.

Q: I'm looking to buy a few cozy items for my home this winter? What are some sustainable choices?

A: The same company that creates O-Wool yarns and fabrics also produces wool blankets that are both organic and luxurious to the touch, while Paivatar offers a range of hand-woven and hand-dyed blankets perfect for snuggling. Based out of Northern California, Pure Grow also produces a line of comfy organic wool blankets for your naturally furnished bedroom.


Rugs are also a quick way to add texture and coziness to a room. Through the RugMark Foundation, a number of companies are working to ensure the rug industry pursues and maintains high ethical standards, including the eradication of child labor in places like Nepal and Tibet. These certified rugs feature a special tag, and a portion of the purchase price goes toward educating children. The RugMark website,, features links to several certified rug options, including Emma Gardner and Angela Adams. With bold colors that will make a statement in any room, Emma Gardner's handmade wool rugs are a great example of enviro-chic design, while Angela Adams' hand-tufted wool and cotton rugs offer a modern aesthetic.

Be sure to check out the companies mentioned above on the Web for more information about their sustainable products.

Barbara Zaretsky is a fiber artist and director of the Asheville-based textile arts center Cloth Fiber Workshop ( where she carries Lorien alpaca wool. She has also operated BZDesign, a textile design and manufacturing company, for over 20 years; in her line of home furnishings and wearable accessories, Barbara uses organic and sustainable fabrics and plant dyes. She can be reached at
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Title Annotation:HEALTHY HOME
Author:Zaretsky, Barbara
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Dec 1, 2007
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