When our kids were born, we did what many parents (I hope) do. We went crazy on organics. But I'm always uncomfortable with trends and sometimes the organic movement feels just a little trendy to me. When things get trendy, I get suspicious.
So last year we started doing something a little different; we started buying shares in local farms and ranches. You paid your gardener/rancher/farmer a portion upfront for the year so they knew how much to produce and had the money to go out and buy their supplies without making leap of faith guesses. Then as the seasons came around, you could go pick up your meat, veggies, fruits, grains, and eggs. You were encouraged to go to the farms and meet the people growing your food, to bring your kids so they could be involved as well. It was such a lovely community to be a part of. We all learned so much, some times too much, from our very enthusiastic gardeners and ranchers. But really, it just felt so good to know who was growing/raising your food.
None of it was certified organic. It was grown by people who knew their job, loved their animals, had generations of experience growing crops and cared deeply that their food was truly healthy. So I assumed the organic movement would mean something special to them, but I found it a sore spot. I learned to not even mention it. I guess everyone has a side to the story.
I feel better knowing there is a certification that applies to things when I don't know where it's coming from but I can also certainly sympathize with the farmers who can't afford the organic certification and can't compete with the big companies who can. They just want to do what they know and love. No fuss, no muss.
All that to say....when I started looking at bringing in eco fabrics to the shop, I really shied away from the organic producers (whom I respect so much!) because I was curious if there wasn't something beyond organic for fabric as well. What I found was a bit of a pleasant surprise.
First, there are really smart people who know a whole lot about fabric and how to produce it.
Second, there are a lot of great fiber options when it comes to fabric. Just smart options.
On spec. I loved what hemp offers in terms of ecology and comfort. It not a plant that needs any sort of pesticides or herbicides, it's not easily beaten I guess. It gets its moisture from way down low in the ground and so it needs little watering. So while hemp is not often given the label 'organic', it is just assumed. It's like it's soared beyond organic!
What does hemp fabric offer us? Well I wanted to find that out too and so I took it for a little spin. I knew, from the producers of the fabric, that hemp is kind to your skin, protects from UV rays, absorbent, and one of those rare fabrics that is tough enough to last forever (some of the earliest clothing remains ever found were made from hemp...so that will last a few loads) but it also softens and gets better with age. That sounds like a lounging around t-shirt fabric to me - a great appreciator of a good lounge.
I'm used to working with the silky feel of both the Stenzo lines as well the bamboo lines I carry in the store. I would get married in any of those...but this hemp jersey felt really different. It has a definite texture, or slub to it but it feels soft and cool. I almost felt like the pattern I chose was too blouse-y for the fabric and I think the next time I use it, and there will be a next time, I would opt for a basic t-shirt or a simple tunic; yoga pants would be amazing in it. I'm drawn to simple things with this fabric. To comfort and every day life.
So to sum up my experience with hemp fabric; it was different than I thought and yet more than I expected. It feels beautiful on and I'm enjoying the simplicity of it. It breathes, it flows, and it's just so gosh darn comfortable. It's been through the wash a couple of times now and the colour remains true. It is softening, the texture almost blending into itself. It's the shirt I reach for in the morning and feel comfortable and appropriately dressed all day, no matter what. And that's worth a lot!