I made my ideal hat. I know, one is never supposed to love one child more than another, and it’s a good thing that I only have one human child, but I can’t help myself. I love this hat more than my other hats. There, I said it. Scorn me if you will, but that’s just the way it is.
Artists of all kinds are often type cast by a role they played, a song they composed or a piece they created at some point in their careers. This has been the case for me with some of my hats. The success I have selling them and the pleasure they give my customers has made it difficult for me to focus on where I really want to be today. The me of today loves natural fibres and wool in particular. The more you learn about wool, its sustainability and amazing properties, the more you understand that we may have gone a bit overboard with micro fibres. There is a place in this world for everything. I mean, let’s face it, wool bathing suits might be a step backwards, but when it comes to outerwear, polar fleece ain’t got nothing on wool. It takes a super long time for wool to absorb water, so it will stay dry for quite a while and when it does get wet, the fibres are warmed by your body temperature, so it keeps on providing warmth. Felted wool is way more windproof than any cleverly marketed wind block micro fibre. Best of all, wool biodegrades. It’s just nice to make a hat that won’t survive the apocalypse.
Working with natural fibres connects me to the natural world. I love knowing where my materials came from. This brings me to another subject…where does our fibre come from? Global trade has been around for, oh you know, a thousand years? Think Vikings, Marco Polo, spice trade routes. I’m not giving up bananas, coffee, chocolate or avocados any time soon. I even sometimes appreciate tasteless tomatoes in the winter. But when we buy tomatoes from the other side of the world while they are growing in our own communities, I think it’s just plain wrong. This concept of eating locally is catching on for many great reasons, but we still have a ways to go when it comes to applying the same concept to textiles.
The fact that I was able to make this hat from local to Nova Scotia Shetland wool just delights me. I purchased the wool from Sisterhood Fibres in Tatamagouche, NS. They knew the name of the farmer who had brought the wool into their shop. They also knew the names of the sheep. It just doesn’t get more local than that. This, to me, is hat making Nirvana. I’m using local wool to create a sustainable hat and I get to support a couple of local businesses in my own province. It’s not always possible, but it feels so right when it works.
The concept of trying to use textiles produced within a smaller radius from home is called The Fibre Shed. If you are interested in learning more check out Tap Root Fibre Lab. They are a small farm in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, focused on growing and processing linen.