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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm curious if anyone here grows their own cloth. If so, what do you grow?

If not, but you've always wanted to, what prevents you? Space? Time? Resources?

On the farm here, most of what we grow is textile related, be it dye or fibre. Most of the things we grow are remarkably easy to grow and process but I encounter a lot of people who think these are too difficult to try. So I'm curious what other people are doing.

Any questions about growing textiles?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Cedar and linden are both trees that produce fibre. If you're growing these for cloth, that's fantastic! I would love to see some photos. :)

I noticed people here have sheep goats and rabbits. People here grow crops. They knit, spin, and sew. I thought perhaps someone else here might be combining growing with creating.

Given that industrial textiles have a much larger carbon footprint than agriculture and they are just so much fun to grow, I had hoped that homesteading forum might be the place to find people who care about this topic.
 

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We care. :) We simply may not have experience with that specific area of interest.

Cedar around here (central and south Texas) is a pest tree. Linden doesn't grow here.
 

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I have away's thought it would be a fun thing to do. Watched a few youtube's I think flax. My problem is time. I don't even bother sewing clothes for the kids anymore with cloth being so expensive. Much cheaper to buy something and if need be make modifications if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
What do I grow?

Plants at the moment are...
linen/flax
nettles
cotton.

Cotton is pretty easy, just take off the fluffy stuff and spin. I've bee focusing more on pushing it to its limits to see what conditions it can tolerate. Last year it thrived on 20 minutes drip irrigation a week, but it doesn't seem to like zero irrigation (no rainfall here during the growing season).

Linen/flax on the other hand, we plant during the wet season and it dries down during the summer. Very easy and low requirements. But processing takes a while as we need to ret, break, and hackle the fibres. Not difficult if we work smart, but not as easy as cotton.

Nettles, I'm still experimenting. We can get the fibre out by boiling the bark, but I want to find a method that doesn't require energy or other external resources.

Animals:
basic woolly ones like alpacas and sheep
I'm dabbling in silk, but haven't perfected it yet.

There are a few pictures on my website
If you have any questions about specific fibres, let me know. I'm eager to increase awareness about textiles.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Left coast of Canada (aka, well outside it's zone).

From my research, cotton can thrive in a wide range of zones and was often grown in drought conditions. The kind of cotton they use in industrial farming needs a lot of water, but there are so many other kinds out there. The work of Sally Fox is inspirational.

My favourite to grow is the seeds from Baker Creek Seeds. They have a red leaf cotton with brilliant white fibre that thrives under all my abuse.

The biggest problem I have being so far north is our day length is too long. Cotton is daylight sensitive and won't set their bolls until the days are short enough. Which doesn't always give them enough time to mature before the frosts hit.
 

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I have some cotton seed from Baker Creek, just haven't gotten around to planting. I think I'm too late for this year, maybe next spring. I've got a good sized patch of stinging nettle in the field, had no idea you could make spinnable fiber out of it, wondering if it is the same plant! Lovely pictures on your website!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Cotton is a perennial. If you live somewhere with a warm winter (it doesn't like to freeze), you can grow it year 'round.

What I've been doing is growing it in the garden or greenhouse during the summer, then I transplant the best plants into pots and bring them inside for the winter. Cotton makes a beautiful houseplant. If you are on the polar side of 47 latitude, then you may need to give it artificial light to keep it in leaf.

I have a handful of seeds I'm planning to plant this week. But this late in the year, I think I'll just put it in pots and keep them outside until the fall. They seem to do best between 70F and 80F - but our nights get much colder than that here, so I'll need to find a sheltered space if I want to keep them out overnight. I've got an idea, near a building. Should be enough mass to keep the pots warm during the night.
 

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We have sheep and Angora goats for their fiber, and this year a friend gave me some indigo starts, she grew plants for seed last year. Would like to grow flax next year. I agree that Sally Fox's work and dedication to growing cotton for textiles is fantastic.
 

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I have grown cotton for the past two years and eventually would like to have critters who grow fiber. Unfortunately we have some neighbor challenges on that front. I got hand cards for carding cotton for my birthday just now, but I have three little ones and no time so at the moment I'm thinking about things I can do with my cotton other than spinning it. But I'll keep growing it and I am very interested in this discussion and interested in your website. If I can find time to get decent at spinning then I think cotton will stay a staple here.
 
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