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Friday, June 28, 2013

An Ounce Of Prevention

Being in the depth of winter here in Tasmania with the temperature regularly dropping into minus temperatures overnight now our first topic discussed at the Living Better meet-up was wool; it's use, care and protection. 
Coincidently this week, 4Corners aired a particularly damning expose of the exploitation of clothing factory workers. To say that these workers paid less than $3 per day in unsafe factories with no entitlements, protection etc is to spouse the usual blah, blah rhetoric. But to SEE their maimed and missing limbs and hear how a mother sees her son just once a year etc etc....
This is big clothing companies that retail in our countries squeezing the tightest dollar from the manufacturers. I am taking some responsibility for this too. Recently I have bought insanely cheap knitwear and though I marvelled and mused "how can they make it for the price?" that was as far as my thoughts went. In this country as recession has hit, we have congratulated ourselves staying afloat, keeping fed, staying warm....but clearly at the expense of poorer countries. 
Please, I urge you to watch this episode and report from 4 Corners called

The book in the photo above as you can see by the cover is a collection of war time brochures that though outdated in some of the energy information, still has valuable and timely household wisdom for today. A lot of the literature was about making clothing last. Our group discussed how in today's society little thought is given to the preservation or care of clothing. It is bought so cheaply and usually quality is compromised. Households are more inclined to throw clothing into machines and wear them less than a year and casually toss them out. Like the "Slow Food" movement principles, we can apply this also to our goods we use and wear. For instance, think about kitchen cabinetry. When you add up the time the timber took to grow, the miles that the product, raw and dressed travelled, the hours that it passed from hand to hand as it was crafted from tree to cabinet, it becomes mind boggling when one considers how cavalier people can be gutting their kitchens for a new one because it is not cosmetically fashionable enough.

Not so for Kylie over at lucy violet vintage, check out her story here about saving a Tasmanian Oak kitchen on the other side of Australia....but I digress a little.
Back to wool. Same applies. From the farmer to the shearer to the textile worker, literally miles and miles and lots of dollars but what IF we stopped for a moment and consciously thought about our purchases and cared for our things with the respect they deserved. 
Wool is a champion fibre. It is insulating and used in housing and garments. It can be spun from the finest of threads to the thick textiles and even felted. It is soil and stain resistant. It is fire retardant. 
I have woollen garments in my wardrobe typically older than 20 years. My oldest garment would be my grey scarf that my mother used to wear in 1973. That's 40 years old! Even older is the dress that my father knit for my grandmother, tucked away in a trunk here safely.

This is typical moth damage.
Woollen garments need not be washed every single wear as they are soil resistant. A mark needs only spot treatment like a sponge. After wear simply air before folding and putting away. Perhaps there has been a spot here and a moth has certainly found it. 

At the meet-up last night we discussed some simple ingredients from our garden and local area that can be used to deter moths and silverfish in cupboards. 
You may recall posts recently about our trip to the west coast. While there I picked up a couple of bags of Huon pine shavings, wonderful for the hen house and in the nesting boxes acts as a natural insect deterrent. It smells divine too. If you don't have access to Huon Pine then Cedar chips are commonly used in such a sachet. I acquired absithe artemesia plant from Killiecrankie Farm, commonly it is known as Wormwood and another wonderful pest deterrent and good for planting near the fowl yard. In the later part of summer I harvested and dried the leaves easily for use in wardrobe sachets. The lavender was also cut and dried upside down in the summer. Not only does it smell good but it is also an insect deterrent. Lastly from the pantry we added cloves which also has anti-mould properties. 
People have used ingredients like these for centuries. There are no hard and fast rules, just make sure the ingredients are dry and that they have insect repellent properties. You can also add essential oils if you wish to or other fragrant herbs as you prefer. 

You can simply cut a square of fine lawn or muslin and place a small pile of the ingredients in the centre then gather the fabric and tie off with a piece of string or ribbon. Recycle those small gauze drawstring sachets you sometimes get or stitch a shape like the heart above (here for more ideas and also here) and stuff with the ingredients and some wadding and sew closed. As simple or as pretty as you like. This is a great project to do with children and they make lovely presents at Christmas or for teachers.
And that was just the FIRST topic we discussed but that's enough for now, more tomorrow.....
when we talk about 
Elderberry Tincture


  1. I did watch Four Corners this week..I was appalled at how Rivers in particular has gone from a company that took pride in hiring Australian labour and using Australian materials as I remember it using cheap overseas labour, exploiting workers and using inferior materials in terrible conditions! Just greed!

  2. I started watching Four Corners... but found it so awful and so emotional that eventually I just had to turn the TV off. Weak really in light of the awful suffering that other people endure - I couldn't even tolerate watching about if for forty-five minutes from the warm comfort of my western home. Shameful.
    Yes - I must make some satchels to protect clothing and my wool stash. I'm a long time convert to quality over quantity but I still have a way to go learning to care for things properly.

  3. Excellent point Sally! Protect your wool stash too!


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