Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Acrylic & Polyester

It's winter in Austria, even one that is cold and rich in snow. Here in Graz, at the south-eastern foothills of the European Alpes, we aren't used to such harsh conditions anymore and I realized that I wasn't too well prepared for them. I was cold rather often during the past weeks and I had to accept that I needed a larger choice of warm pullovers than I already had in my wardrobe. 'No problem', I thought, and went shopping after work - something that I hate and thus avoid like the plague.

Shelves and racks were still crammed with winter clothes everywhere although occasionally spring outfits turned up, too. My big problem was that the current fashion isn't my cup of tea. It proved difficult to find cuts and colours that I liked. Worst of all were the materials, though. Whenever I saw a piece that seemed nice, I took it out to have a closer look... and at the first touch I felt the telltale prickle creeping up my spine. There was hardly a need to check the labels on the inside to know that the pullovers were made of acrylic or polyester, often even 100%. It's not just that the static is a constant nuisance to me because I often get a tiny electric shock touching an object and because sparks emit from my fingertips if I don't take care. The real problem is that I'm allergic to synthetic fibres widely used for making clothes these days! I get a rush and pimples where the material is in direct contact with my skin for too long, not to mention the itching. I need natural fibres on my body - wool or silk because it's winter and cotton doesn't warm me sufficiently. Where can I find pure woollen pullovers? Not in the shops where I went! But why?

Quite obviously acrylic, polyester and other synthetic fibres are easier to produce in big quantities and, judging from the prices, they seem to be more inexpensive than wool, silk and even cotton. However, they are just certain kinds of plastic! Are people aware that mineral oil is needed to make their clothes? Are you aware of it? Considering that the quality of such clothes often isn't very good and they soon end in the rubbishbin, it seems an outrageous waste of our limited natural resources. I definitely have a different idea of sustainability! And yet, the market is inundated with cheap synthetic clothes... that are of no use to me.

I tried to find woollen pullovers in shops and boutiques. I came across some, but they were all made of special yarns, very select and very expensive... certainly not suited for everyday use. As a knitter I'm not disinclined to make my own pullovers although I limited myself to scarfs, hats and gloves so far. Over the past years I noticed that the prices for wool were rising constantly and that it's difficult to get just "normal" wool, nothing special. What a pity that wool is becoming a luxury good again.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. It's hard to find clothes made of natural fibres. Acrylic and polyester feel like wearing a plastic bag: keeps me sweating. I feel warm enough wearing cotton in Finnish winter, but last time shopping I noticed that cotton shirts are also rare!

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