Category Close-Up - February 2013

Nature Made
By Wanda Jankowski

Options in home textiles created with natural fibers

No longer solely the province of “tree-hugging” environmentalists, goods created with natural fibers are being sought out by a broader range of consumers who seek to maintain their health using preventative measures, surrounding themselves with foods and furnishings that promote wellness and comfort for themselves, their children and the planet.

“The ‘green’ trend is becoming invisible,” writes Jill Sands, in the Winter 2013 Edition of “The Trend Forecaster.” “Like technology, it’s become a part of our everyday lives, so we don’t see it. It’s here, it’s all around us, yet no longer in our faces!”

Surya recently announced its membership in the Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC). The council, formed in 2006, serves as a repository of knowledge on issues involving sustainability and provides best practice guidelines.
Surya has been increasing its collection of products made with natural materials in response to the growing need in the marketplace. “As a home accessories manufacturer, we look for ways to work smarter and eliminate waste wherever possible within the supply chain. Joining the SFC organization will give us more tools to affect industry change and a platform to share valuable information with other manufacturers and retailers,” says Satya Tiwari, president, Surya.

An important reminder in offering products made with natural fibers is that there are quality differences when it comes to the fibers themselves as well as how they are processed, woven and finished.

“Mulberry silk, which refers to the leaf silkworms digest, makes the finest silk in terms of color, durability, long strand and feel. Habotai silk has good properties and a place, but it is inferior to Mulberry,” explains John Kenmuir, who is vice-president of Manito Silk, a company that uses only 100 percent long-staple Mulberry silk in its products.

Product quality is also judged by the weight and weave of the silk. “All silk threads are extremely fine. It takes many fibers to make a visible thread and many threads to make a fabric,” says Kenmuir. “This is why silk is measured by weight or momme count: 100 yards of material 45 inches wide weighs ‘X’ pounds. If the number (X) is 22, it’s 22 momme.

“The thread count is irrelevant; most quality silk fabric for bedding would be in the 400 range (we offer 450). If somebody claims a high thread count but a similar or lower momme count, their threads are too thin,” says Kenmuir.

“Weave should also be considered. We use a lush charmeuse weave. So you tell good from not so good by momme count, weave, silk type, but also the credibility of what is being claimed and the look of the product,” concludes Kenmuir.

Creative Women uses Ethiopian cotton in its products. “First of all, not many people know about it,” says Ellen Dorsch, Creative Women founder. “I have found that there is an appeal for many stores to carry something that other stores don’t have and is slightly exotic, yet contemporary. Second, the Ethiopian products Creative Women sells are made from hand-spun cotton, which is softer than machine spun. Most hand-woven cotton textiles are made from machine-spun cotton. Third, there is a district in Ethiopia that has the perfect climate for growing cotton; it is still grown by small producers who can pay more attention to the growing cycle than bigger farms.”

Abyss & Habidecor, with its factory based in Portugal, uses 100 percent Giza 70 Egyptian cotton. “We are the factory, unlike many companies selling textiles,” says Leslie Connell, vice-president of U.S. sales and operations, Abyss & Habidecor.

Although not all products made with natural fibers are produced in an eco-friendly or sustainable way, all of Abyss & Habidecor’s products are Oeko-Tex certified.

“In fact, our factory exceeds the standards of Oeko-Tex,” says Connell. “We have a complete waste water filtration system on site. The water used for dying is placed in a three-stage water filtration system. The tanks are teeming with micro-organisms that consume the dyestuffs remaining in the water and convert them into environmentally harmless solids that are pressed into sheets used for garden compost. The water that remains in the last tank can be released into a stream without causing any harm to nature. However, we reuse the water.”
Whether it’s wool, cotton, linen, silk, jute, hemp or other more exotic fibers, you can’t solely rely on the fact that they come from Mother Nature in evaluating the degree of “organic” or eco-friendly production and the quality of the finished good. That process requires the human touch.

Wool Rug From Company C’s Coastal Collection, Sea Glass is offered in coral (shown) and lagoon colorways. The mosaic design, which draws inspiration from shards of sea glass, features colorful prismatic triangles rendered in tufted wool against a creamy textural ground of high-twist yarns.
Wool Flat-Weave Rugs Designed by Beth Lacefield, the Alameda Collection from Surya features flat-woven, 100 percent wool rugs crafted in India. The designs embody Lacefield’s hallmarks: layers of texture, pattern and color. The grouping is offered in nine color palettes ranging from bright dahlia and tangerine to more neutral spa blue and truffle.
Linen Throws Brahms Mount introduces 100 percent linen Windowpane Check Throws offered in six colors. Shown (top to bottom) are throws in pearl, natural and bisque.
Wool Blankets Pendleton offers queen- and king-size Easy Care Washable Wool Blankets in an array of solids and plaids. They are made in the U.S. with Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool®, 100 percent pure virgin wool that passes strict standards of sustainability and responsible environmental stewardship. Coordinating shams are also available.
Linen Bath Rug The Mistral bath rug (below) from Abyss & Habidecor is made with 100 percent undyed linen and is offered in two sizes: 23 by 29 inches and 20 by 31 inches.
Cotton & Wool Toddler Pillow The Woolly Boo® Toddler Pillow is made with organic cotton and organic wool filler. The natural materials allow a healthy airflow within the crib or toddler bed for temperature control throughout the seasons. The wool filling is also naturally hypoallergenic. The pillow measures 25 by 18 inches, but due to the handmade nature of the product, size may vary slightly.
Organic Cotton Towels The Corduroy towels from Abyss & Habidecor are made with 100 percent organic cotton. The collection includes wash, guest, hand and bath towels, a bath sheet and mitt, in the two colorways shown.
Silk Quilted Pillows The Quilted Collection by Manito Silk includes down-and-feather-filled 12- by 12-inch decorative and 12- by 16-inch lumbar pillows, 27- by 27-inch Euro shams and coverlets in queen and king sizes. There are three quilting patterns: the flowing leaf pattern (shown) on the square and lumbar pillows, the large diamond on the Euro shams and a smaller diamond with a 4-inch flat border on the coverlets. All are made with 100 percent Mulberry silk, 22 momme, in a charmeuse weave and with 100 percent silk floss padding.
Belgian Linen Bedding The Abbeywood Collection from Libeco includes a duvet, shams and pillowcases. All are woven with 100 percent Belgian linen, which is 100 percent recyclable. An advantage of linen is that the flax plant grows naturally without the need for pesticides. Flax is also “gentle on the land” and does not strip the water table.
Himalayan Wool Rug The Blue R2 rug from Amala Carpets is inspired by the ripples and reflections in a deep blue river under a bright moon. Handmade using 100 percent Himalayan sheep’s wool and natural vegetal dyes, it measures 8 by 10 feet.
Ethiopian Cotton Runner The Ribbons runner from Creative Women is made with Ethiopian cotton. Matching placemats are also available.
Organic Cotton Bedding Committed to sustainable practices, Yala introduces the Chevron Collection that features hand-block printed quilts, shams and loungewear made with organic cotton. Azo-free dyes create color.
Recycled Cotton Rug Fab Habitat is guided by sustainable practices. Broadway in enchanting blue and white is from the Metro Collection of recycled cotton flat weave rugs handcrafted in bold, graphic designs. They are offered in five sizes.
Cotton Table Linens Candy Stripe table napkins from Kara Weaves are made with 100 percent cotton yarn. Measuring 15 by 15 inches, they are available in peach, dark green, light green, pink, copper blue, sky blue, dark blue, mustard, brown, purple and black.
Turkish Cotton Towels The Luxury Beach Towels from Chortex are made with 100 percent combed Aegean Turkish cotton and measure 40 by 70 inches.
Cotton & Linen Shower Curtain Coyuchi offers the Mini-Stripe Cotton and Linen Shower Curtain in smooth sateen for elegant draping. The curtain can be used with or without a liner and hangs from tie tabs. The curtain is woven in India with 100 percent organic cotton grown in India and flax from France and Belgium.

Resources

• Abyss & Habidecor, inc., 800-588-8565, abysshabidecor.com
• Amala Carpets, 416-482-0998, amalacarpets.com
• Brahms Mount, 800-545-9347, brahmsmount.com
• Chortex Ltd., 914-930-8440, chortex-usa.com
• Company C Inc., 800-818-8288, companyc.com
• Coyuchi, 888-418-8847, coyuchi.com
• Creative Women, 802-658-1211, creativewomen.net
• Fab Habitat, 732-401-0634, fabhabitat.com
• Kara Weaves, 443-827-8147, karaweaves.com
• Libeco Lagae Inc., 212-764-6644, libeco.com
• Manito Linens Ltd., 877-540-7455, manitosilk.com
• Pendleton Woolen Mills, 503-226-4801, pendleton-usa.com
• Surya, 877-275-7847, surya.com
• The Trend Forecaster, 802-867-4079, thetrendforecaster.com
• Woolly Boo, 973-544-8404, woollyboo.com
• Yala, 800-670-7661, yaladesigns.com


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