‘Back to the land’ Eco-Fashion

The Tomorrow People – the ‘Us and Them’ Syndrome
November 20, 2013
Blood Sports
January 23, 2014

By Fareeha Qayoom



lobal warming is a reality. Scientists, world leaders, or our world policy makers might say or do what the heck they want. But the writing is on the wall. We can feel it as the current residents of this world.

natural yarns

Organic Yarns


Winters have become Wonky (in Lahore) for the last few years. When it’s cold, it’s really cold. When it’s hot, it’s really hot. There is no moderate weather in between anymore. Sometimes, it doesn’t rain for months. And then suddenly, we get floods.  It’s crazy. Not that, I am complaining. It’s just an observation.


This winter, I wasn’t sure if I needed to stock up on my woolens or not. (I am all out. Apart from a couple, I don’t have a single warm sweater left). My elder sister Shela (who is clutter free freak and will give away shirt off her back and our collective backs as well while we are not looking) in a mad fit has given away all our old sweaters to her favorite charity. (They were all pure wool too).


It was hot till November. So when it became suddenly cold and foggy this December, we went looking for winter stock.


We started with more expensive brands first. An average sweater from imported brand retailers will cost more than PKR 6-7K on an average. A really good sweater might cost even more. (HKB used to be a good resource of imported, fake branded designer sweaters but for the past few years, they have gone to the dogs as well).


natural yarns


The fiber contents would disappoint you as well. Most of them are blends of man-made fibers- (80 to 90 percent) like acrylic, polyamide and others, -and only smattering of pure organic ones like wool, (lambs), hair (mohair and angora) and cotton 5 to 10 percent only. There was not a single pure 100 percent organic fiber contents sweater in the entire inventory.  I looked.


I bought a couple of man-made fiber ones. But they don’t keep the cold out. You need to add a few more layers on top and below with those sweaters. Also they pill like crazy in next to no time. So they are hardly durable.


I still have to look at local/domestic brands’  price points this season. But last season’s experience tells me that they will be upwards of 4-5K minimum. However, you might find a pure 100 percent organic fiber contents in a good basic design and maybe in a nice basic color too but it’s like looking for a needle in haystack.  The ‘hunt for red October’ is back on.


In the meantime, I persuaded my mom to take out her knitting needles- I thought we could knit ourselves a few pure (100 percent lambs wool) basic ones.




I also discovered that I remember the knitting stitch that my mom taught me in my childhood. I have become interested in relearning this skill as well – you know, ‘back to the land’ and sustainable, eco –fashion thing that I have discovered in my old age – I am already learning how to sew, what is another basic skill? There are a lot of resources on the net that teach you how to knit but what about the raw materials?


I have to stock up on pure organic wool if I really want to learn. According to most of my colleagues, there is only one store in Anarkali that stocks up wool and knitting needle supplies and it’s actually man-made fibers as well (masquerading as pure organic wool); so another dead end.


Another colleague suggested that I visit the local “landa Bazaar” and buy pure wool by unpicking second hand/ old sweaters to salvage for their wool. This sounds like too much work and I am not really interested in this option. At this point, I could only wish that Shela had not thrown away my old sweaters. I could have re-engineered, recycled and re-fashioned my old ones. What a lot of waste of good organic stuff.


Do you have any other suggestions?


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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of Tkfr.com and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.

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