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Foolish Foolish Fashion

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I understand the use of computer technology in fabrics used in warfare or exploration. The fabric can measure heart rate, the presence of bleeding or the degree of pressure being put upon the fabric. Earlier this year I linked to a fairly easy to understand scientific explanation of one of the fabric technologies being developed in Wearing a Chain Mail Computer

And I’ve waited and searched for more information on how these new nano technologies might be developed in the fashion world. Finally, my curiosity has paid off with this quick compilation of developments:

Wearables technology Check these out!

Buzzing Bikini? How hot that will be, and I mean hot.

Computer Pants? I foresee these joining the ranks of hot garage sale items in a couple of years.

Hidden Meaning? Hmmm, these would be good for espionage work??? We definitely don’t need any more Fabulous Fashion Spys

Message in A Jacket? This is kind of cute, maybe.

Flash Dance? This one is tagged as a costume for the performing arts. I’d think it could also be used in ergonomic design, medical diagnosis, specialty garment design

These Boots Aren’t Made for Walking….oh yawn, I can’t imagine the entertainment value of watching someone sit down on a bubble created by walking…..zzzzzzz

and finally the prerequisite for experimental project funding…The Ecological Factor….

Green is the New Black…accessories that light up your night….

I’m left speechless. Do you think there’s anything useful in these new products?

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Wearing a Chain Mail Computer?

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I’ve been sitting on this bit of textile news for a while, primarily because I was waiting to see if more uses for this fabric might be released. I know the military is looking at using this technology.

As for the modern family, well, this just won’t wash up well, but it might help in tracking a person lost in the woods or detect a small child’s skinned knee at the playground. I’m certainly hoping that detection of a bullet wound will not be the main use for adding it to our stashes. But then, reality bites.

And then there is the consideration of wearing an electromagnetic field on one’s body.

Please read more about this chain mail fabric here. I don’t feel qualified to paraphrase the article.

New Smart Fabric Detects Vital Signs, Bullet Wounds, Motion, Strain, Pressure, and Produce(s) Power

Global Subsidies To Change Our Stashes?

Over at the Stitcher’s Guild sewing message board there has been a discussion on sourcing cotton fabrics to which I posted this roundup of recent global news items. Since it involved quite a bit of writing time I’ll reproduce it here.

It seems that in light of the world’s subsidies and trade agreements concerning all things textile related that the US cotton farmer had best be represented and repre’d well in the world’s economy.

I’ve been researching textile mfg info and read last week (sorry, didn’t save the link) that China is making a far lower profit on the textiles it exports (about 3%) than on any other exports (about 15%).

While textiles are a large, rapid growth export item for China, I’m also reading that China is gearing up to export even more textiles in the coming year. However valuation of the yuan is going to create problems for China’s export endeavors

The government of South Africa will be supporting Textiles and Clothing in it’s budgetary incentives according to the budget comments from Deloite and Touche.

India is also trying to become a major player in the textile export community by developing it’s mostly small mills and applying for exemptions from VAT taxes as are textile processors in Pakistan. The US based textile company, West Point Home, is establishing a new textile plant in Pakistan as well.

There are movements toward reviving the Egyptian textile through franchising which infuses capital (from OxfordBusinessGroup.com])

The granting of licenses to Egyptian factories to produce foreign branded clothing also has benefits. Nike currently has some of its cotton wear produced in Egypt. Industry analysts say the business model they provide and the demand from domestic and foreign market has the potential to rejuvenate the Egyptian textile industry, which has been in decline in recent years due to a lack of investment.

Dubai, a part of the United Arab Emerits, is creating Dubai Textile City for duty free exports.

On the cotton front: drought in Australia is making cotton less accessable to mills. The sourcing of cotton is shifting around and new areas will most likely seize the opportunity to enter the cotton market. New York, India and Pakistan are the major sources for it but prices are increasing. India’s domestic cotton prices paid by it’s own textile processors have risen to match the prices of international sources.

Drought has effected the US cotton growers as well and herbicide resistent strains of pigweed are threatening the southeastern cotton growers.

But the most enlightening (and a must read article) can be found here. The World Trade Organization is the locus for debates on US subsidies for cotton. The US was forced to terminate a program whereby processors and mills were subsidized in buying US cotton when it was at a higher price than the rest of the world supplies. At this moment there are thousands of cotton bales sitting in a warehouse in Memphis waiting to be sold to China when it runs out of its own cotton stash, the size of which is completely unknown to US.

So, it seems to me that there are many changes afoot in the textile market and cotton will most assuredly be increasing in price.

It is hoped that the US government’s own push towards converting farmlands from cotton to corn through ethanol based biofuel subsidies will not effect our stash of fabrics!!! This could in itself be devasting to our cotton production. Fortunately there have been grave reservations raised about the ability of corn-based ethanol to reduce US dependency on foreign oil.

The Bush administration is directing much of its efforts toward developing ethanol from cellulosic sources.

The only mention of hemp as a biofuel source that I’ve found in current news research was in this editorial from the Wausau Daily Herald.

I’d love to hear more about hemp being considered by the biofuel advocates with power…it is, after all, quite the weed.

Ayurvastra, Cosmeto-Textiles, and Skin

Edited Dec 20, 2010: Comments on this blog entry have been closed. This is not a bulletin board for commercial inquiries. Please conduct your research in a more appropriate forum.

Posted this past week was a muse about infusing fabrics with scents, presumedly to make products more attractive to consumers choosing between many different but competing items: Sensual Fabrics: RTW

Infusing fabrics to affect the human state of being is not new. Ayurvedic practitioners have infused organic dyes and medicines into coir mats and fabrics to affect healing and the production of this type of fabric has been revived in India.

From http://in.news.yahoo.com/061020/139/68nne.html:

Kerala promotes use of ‘Ayurvastra’ to cure diseases

By ANI
Friday October 20, 02:47 PM
New Delhi, Oct. 20 (ANI):

The ancient art of healing by wearing the Ayurvedic cloth (organic cloth) or “Ayurvastra” is being revived in Kerala

Promoted by the Directorate of Handlooms, and the Department of Dravyaguna Vijnan, Government Ayurveda College, the “Ayurvastra” is being manufactured primarily for export.

The cloth was recently on display at “AROGYA”, the health mela in Delhi. The firm, Penchant Traders, is promoting the benefits of this cloth.

“Ayurvastra” is 100 per cent pure cotton handloom fabric. It can be used as Ayurvedic treatment for diseases like diabetes, skin infections, hypertension, asthma, arthritis and also for boosting immunity. It costs around Rs 150 to Rs 450 per metre.

According to Chaitanya Arora of Penchant, “the cloth does not loose its effect after constant use because the medical dyes (herbs) go into the yarn itself. The yarn is dipped into the herbs and the fabric is dipped again”.

“For the colouring purpose natural herbs like turmeric (haldi) and saffron (kesar) are used,” Arora added.

To wash the cloth, organic soap such as Ritha should be used, Arora said.

“Ayurvastra” is often referred to as a wonder fabric by those who have benefited from it.

“The idea behind Ayurvastra is that immunity levels are raised. Usage of the cloth is based on the principle of touch. By coming in contact with Ayurvastra, the body loses toxins and its metabolism is enhanced,” Arora explained

That sounds like it couldn’t hurt unless you are allergic to the chemicals in the medicinal plants. The main use would be in sheets, mats and towels as it’s recommended that the body be relaxed in order to benefit from the contact with the fabric. The State Government has been convinced enough by tests to grant the Ayurveda College $250,000 to develope the dyes. But a complaint comes from those who gather the medicinal herbs in the surrounding woods … they are way underpaid, they say. Follow the money….

And there’s another aspect to this fabric infusion kick: Cosmeto-Textiles. Cosmeto-Textiles are infused with “slimming agents, perfumes and cremes”. Today, a report comes from a textile industry portal, that in spite of scepticisim at a recent Paris lingerie show, there are two companies reporting strong sales and bright futures: Onixxa, which offers 30 different products with “slimming agents” including tights and jeans and expects to turnover $27,600,000 by 2009; and Invista, which makes fabrics with aloe vera and perfumes that are after only 3 years, sold to manufacturers around the world.

OK, so even if we are sceptical, we might give one of these products a try to become healthier, slimmer, more comfortable in our own skins.

So hey, how will our skins react?  That could be a total unknown as the breaking news today in the Washington Post reveals.  Martin J. Blaser of New York University School of Medicine is using the latest technological tools to anaylze the swabbed skin of 3 men and 3 women.  From patches of about 1.25″ square on each person’s right and left forearm:

The analysis revealed 182 species, the researchers reported. Of those, 30 had never been seen. They identified an additional 65 species when they sampled four of the volunteers eight to 10 months later, including 14 new species.

Wow!  It turns out that microbial populations of the skin’s surface have been researched only as far as the microbes that could be grown in laboratory dishes.

That makes me fervently hope that the scientific research will be as well funded as the development of the old and new additives to fabrics have been.

A more complete assessment of this research can be found at the BioSingularity Blog

Sensual Fabrics: RTW

Ahhhh, “sunshine” scented sheets?  What a pleasant thought!!!  But I had more questions than answers when I read the following news brief:

Coming up, scented textiles
Argentina Star
Tuesday 6th February, 2007
IANS

Scientists are looking at ways to permanently infuse fabrics with a fragrance that can survive washings.

John Pierce, an associate professor of psychology at the Philadelphia University, and other researchers are trying to find ways to scent up textiles that could lead to perfumed blankets and sheets or hide the stink of used gym clothes, reported ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) science online.

Conventional methods rely on tiny scent-filled capsules added on top of the yarn after it is woven into a fabric. The capsules release their fragrance when they crack open during normal wear and use, the report quoted Discovery News.

The problem, said Pierce, is that the capsules frequently break before the garments are on the shelves, and then break some more before the customer can get the product home.

Pierce and his team, who are in the second year of a three-year project to assess such fabrics, have developed an alternative method that infuses scent and colour into a yarn at the time it is made.

This yarn essentially contains strands of scent and colour sheathed in an outer layer, all produced in one step.

The researchers said their fabric should retain the fragrance for up to 10-15 washes, about the same as those with microcapsules. But, they added, that theirs would be cheaper to manufacture as there are no microcapsules or microcapsule-applying machinery to buy.

For the fragrance to survive washings, the textile has to withstand the manufacturing process, the researchers said.

In spite of the opening statement about making the fragrance permanent, the scientist’s target goal is to have the scent last for 10 – 15 washings. From what I remember of a discussion had a few years ago with some folks in the RTW biz, the target for RTW durability is also 10 – 15 washings, depending on the “Durability” being tested. For shrinkage it was 3 washings.  For fabric finish longevity and seam construction the target was 10-15 washes.   I could be wrong in regurgitation of the standards but I remember it was dismally short.

What about possible issue of further polluntants being introduced into the ground water through laundry wastes?  What about unknown and/or new allergic reactions?  God-speed to the scientific development team and may they keep in mind the end-user and Mother Earth!

 And who’s nose will be used to determine what a pleasant scent is?  I hope it’s not the current “nose” at Febreze.  I have yet to find a reason to smile like the people in the Febreze opening page when I’ve used the Febreze products: I react badly both aesthetically and physically, to everything Febreze I’ve tried so far.

And what about us online fabric purchasers?  In a few years will we have “surprises” when we purchase over the internet?  Will we be saying, “I don’t know why but every time I go near that new shirt I cut out I start to feel sick!  Is it just a  mental reaction to the FBA I know I should have done?”

ETA: for the curious, I found a site which gives information about the chemical that makes Febreze effective in scent removal here but it doesn’t give me a clue about the fragrance choices for the products.  Somehow when things get this complicated I get suspicious.

Metamorphosis and Mud Killing

cover.jpg
The Science News, the Weekly Newsmagazine of Science is a great synopsis of “what’s happening now” throughout the scientific community, a weekly reader of the science world. Included on this week’s front page online is a lovely article concerning the ingenious mathematical fiber artists at the Joint Mathematics Meeting this year.

This week I found to must have books:

I want, deeply want, this book Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, by Kim Todd, published by Harcourt, 2007.

I’ve never heard of Maria Sibylia Merian, a woman who, with her daughter, traveled to South America to study caterpillars more than 100 years before Charles Darwin began to change scientific thinking with his visit to the Galapagos.

At the time that Maria sashayed from Europe unaccompanied by her husband, shocking enough in that fact, the mainstream scientists believed in “spontaneous generation” while Maria, who had been painting and engraving and writing about butterflies and caterpillars was studying metamorphosis. The plates are black and white but they should be exquisite renderings of the metamorphing insects and their companion plants.

Another book in the scientific vein that will come to live with me is The Old Way, A Story of the First People by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. This female writer was 9 years old in 1950 when her family went to live with the Kalahari san, “Bushmen”. She witnessed this hunter-gatherer culture whose lifestyle had not changed from the primative beginnings of human ecology and writes about her difficulties in understanding their ways. I am anxious to read how the introduction of modern culture’s apartheid, capitalism and religion has affected this ancient culture.

______________________________________________

And in further scientific news today the government on the island of Java has approved a plan to drop concert concrete balls on chains down a volcano in an attempt to slow the flow of mud that has been erupting since last May. The plan will be to start slowly but increase to 50 1.5 meter chains a day.

The BBC Online reports:

Dr Bagus Nurhandoko, who helped develop the scheme, told Nature magazine: “It will make the mud tired. We’re killing the mud softly.”

You can read this amazing scheme here

A Man’s Work I Love: Science Writer Harold McGee

I love to cook when I have time. And I see that many other sewing and knitting fans do, too.

And I most love to eat (obviously) and have gone so far as to raise and grow almost all our food for a year or two, pursuing the cheapest road to elegant gourmet dinners for two.  I’m over that part now but it was nice to only buy soaps and storage containers at the grocery store or the food coop. 

However, I Am Over All That Now and do not recommend this manner of feeding yourself and your beloveds.  I was only able to do it because I have no children and worked in the same location in which I worked.  At planting and harvest time it is a more than full time job.  But I’m glad I learned what I did and happily rejoined the 20th (at the time) century.  Besides, the greenhouse roof took a tremendous hit and collapsed during an odd whiteout storm of heavy snow.  I took that as a sign from God and cut way back.  But I do miss the heat and humidity of working in the greenhouse.

I have learned what I know about cooking from reading, reading, reading and have an extensive cookbook reference library. I won’t talk about the gardening and landscaping reference library.

 The crowning book in the cooking library is not a cook book but a Cook’s Book, written by Harold McGee. For your procuring enablement, here’s a shameless link to his shameless plug: On Food and Cooking, The Science & Lore of the Kitchen

Harold McGee has joined the blogsphere and I am very grate-ful he has.  For those who haven’t discovered Mr. McGee’s new blogspot here’s the link. 

News for Curious Cooks