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From HÅNDVÆRK bookazne no. 2

From bookazine no. 2, which has long been sold out, I have put all the articles from this issue online. You can find the full-text articles here #bookazine2

Fibre confusion

It is no secret that I would rather speak of common sense than of sustainability. Not because I am a climate-change denier, but because I have no time for simple, sanctimonious or self-righteous solutions to complex problems.

In many regards, common sense today is no different from what it was to our grandparents. You should only buy things you can’t do without. Things that are necessary – and not only in a practical sense; I accept that our consumption of clothes and other objects also are reflect our need to express ourselves.

In addition, we need basic knowledge about materials and processes to be able to make sensible choices.


Here, the focus is on clothes and textiles in general

We need to relearn how we look after our clothes and other belongings. Learn to put our clothes out to air more and launder less, to repair, patch and darn. To wear an apron when we cook and place a napkin in our lap when we eat. Avoid wearing our best clothes while painting or gardening!

Today, however, common sense has taken on an added dimension. And here we have to speak of sustainability. That is relevant and necessary because our consumption of clothes is COMPLETELY out of control. In part, this is because we have larger disposable incomes and so can afford to buy more clothes than most of our grandparents ever could. And partly, it is because clothes have become so shamelessly cheap to produce that for the individual company it is often more lucrative to produce amounts far in excess of demand than not to.

That is a despicable waste of scarce resources, and in addition to the problematic environmental footprint of textile production, dealing with textile waste further adds to the burden, which is doubly grotesque, since it consist of clothes that were barely – or never – worn.

I spoke with the textile designer Marie-Louise Rosholm about how consumers can navigate in the fibre jungle to choose whether the new white T-shirt should be cotton, silk, linen or Tencel.

Marie-Louise has worked with textiles for more than 35 years. She completed her apprenticeship as a weaver and subsequently studied textile design at the Kunsthåndværkerskolen (School of Arts and Crafts) in Kolding (now Design School Kolding).

After her graduation she moved to Italy, working in Europe’s leading textile industry. Eight years later, she returned to Denmark and founded Studio MLR in Copenhagen, but her work continues to revolve around an international network.

She develops designs and trend projections and is also actively involved in the development of new fabrics for fashion, furniture and interior design. She is at ease in the engine room of the industry, and her strong professional basis and large network earns her respect and generates many opportunities.

Marie-Louise’s design perspective has always been aimed at mass production, driven by a desire to improve and add beauty to life for the many. For many years, she has focused on applying a sustainable approach to her chosen medium.

Marie Louise Rosholm

When we meet in her studio on Refshaleøen islet in Copenhagen, she is fresh returned from a stay in Asia, where she gave 20 trend presentations on behalf of the Austrian Lenzing Group, which produces sustainable cellulose fibres, including Tencel, modal and Refibra. All of these fibres are made FSC-certified wood under strict environmentally responsible requirements: the consumption of water is minimized, and the chemicals used in the production are kept inside a closed system.



Marie-Louise explains that we have by now amassed considerable knowledge about the environmental impact of textile production; unfortunately, however, there is very little data available about what happens post-production.

The main problem is that we use our clothes so little before discarding it. ‘It’s all good and well to have re-use systems that turn recycled fibres into clothing. But first of all, this is a very resource-intensive process where the amount of scrapped fibres in the new fabric is difficult to determine. Secondly, there are strong indications that the quality of a material made of recycled fibres is inferior to the original material,’ says Marie Louise. ‘In other words, re-using or recycling is good, but no waste is much, much better.’

Another good reason only to buy things we intend to keep!

Tencel, modal and Refibra are among the most sustainable choices we can make.

But what about wool? ‘Well, if you look at the environmental impact of wool production alone, wool is quite problematic. That is due to the same issue we know from the food industry: the animals fart!

From a broader perspective, however, which also includes the durability of a woollen garment and how rarely it needs to be washed, the picture is very different. Overall, there’s no reason to avoid wool, quite the contrary, in fact.’

Great, I think – and silk? As a natural material, silk is on my mental list of good materials, although I have to admit it is difficult to keep neat and clean. In that sense, it has a heavier footprint, and in ‘price per wear’ it will never match wool. If we also consider the rather massive impact of the production process, it may be worth reconsidering just how much silk we should have in our closets.

I ask Marie-Louise how she feels about silk. She replies, ‘When I was dyeing textiles 25 years ago, I loved silk because it absorbed the dye so well. Today I don’t actually see many benefits to it. I far prefer Tencel and modal, which can easily be made to have the same delicious “hand feel”.

Cotton is difficult to replace entirely, but conventional cotton is the most heavily polluting fibre to produce.

‘Selling a 10-euro T-shirt is completely unethical,’ says Marie-Louise. ‘The manufacturer would do the environment a favour by simply doubling the price, even if he just stuffed the added profits into his own pocket without sharing it with the growers or the seamstresses. The fact that consumers would buy fewer of the expensive T-shirts and take better care of them would improve their environmental profile considerably.’

‘Both linen and hemp are good options – if, that is, the plants are grown in Europe or in certain places in China, where the climate is right for it.’


Karin Carlander

The weaver Karin Carlander confirms this. She weaves her functional textiles in linen, and her company is certified by the prestigious organization Master of Linen. The label is only granted to manufacturers whose products are 100% traceable and where each step in process, from seed to finished product, has taken place in Europe.

Linen, made from the flax plant, is the only plant-based textile fibre that can be grown in Europe. In fact, some of the world’s finest linen, if the not the finest, is made from flax grown in Europe.

Karin Carlander’s linen fibre comes from flax grown in France. The best fields are located on a coastal stretch from Caen in France, through Belgium to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Karin explains.

This stretch of land has the ideal climate and soil conditions for flax. Not only does it produce the strongest and most beautiful material (with the longest fibres), it also enables the most environmentally sustainable agricultural production. The climate is perfect for the entire process. There is sufficient rain to make costly irrigation superfluous. By comparison, 1 kg of harvested cotton requires 7,100 litres of water. The cotton plant further leaves behind a large amount of waste product, while the entire flax plant can be used – the longer fibres going into furnishing and clothing, the coarser fibres being used for sackcloth and animal feed.

For many years, European flax growers were struggling to survive and required EU subsidies, but today, they are thriving again.

The fibre is in high demand, from both the furnishing and fashion industries, which have grown increasingly aware of the beauty and comfort of the material as well as its positive environmental qualities. ‘As a result, the material has become more expensive, but that is good news for the growers,’ says Karin.

According to Masters of Linen, a cradle-to-grave analysis of a linen shirt compared to a cotton one finds that the environmental impact of the cotton shirt is seven times higher. Naturally, that calculation is based on people using both shirts equally, ideally until they are worn out completely!

Once the linen shirt is worn out, it has yet another benefit: like other natural fibres, it is biodegradable.

Among its added benefits, linen has natural anti-bacterial properties, it dries quickly and is able to absorb 20% of its own weight in water without feeling damp – all features that are pleasant and practical, both in our summer clothes and in hand or bath towels, tea towels and sheets.

Enjoy your trip into the fibre jungle – it is a sensuous, beautiful and colourful place, but you need to watch your step!


Det er ingen hemmelighed, at jeg hellere vil tale om sund fornuft end om bæredygtighed. Ikke fordi jeg er klimafornægter, men fordi jeg bryder mig meget lidt om lette, hellige og selvgode løsninger på et problem, som er komplekst.

Sund fornuft i dagsform ligner på mange måder sund fornuft, som den tog sig ud, da mormor var ung. Man skal kun købe noget, man ikke kan undvære. Noget, som er nødvendigt. Ikke kun praktisk nødvendigt, for jeg accepterer, at vores forbrug af tøj og ting også handler om at udtrykke os.

Og så skal vi have grundlæggende viden om materialer og processer for at være i stand til at træffe fornuftige valg.


Her skal det handle om tøj og tekstiler i det hele taget

Vi skal genlære at passe på vores tøj og vores ting. Lufte mere end vaske, reparere og lappe. Tage forklæde på, når vi laver mad, og lægge en serviet i skødet, når vi spiser, og vi skal ikke lave havearbejde eller malerarbejde med vores pæne tøj på!

Sund fornuft har dog fået en dimension yderligere. Her kan vi ikke undgå at tale om bæredygtighed. Det er aktuelt og nødvendigt, fordi vores tøjforbrug er gået HELT over gevind. Sådan er det blandt andet, fordi vi har større disponibel indkomst og dermed råd til at forbruge meget mere tøj, end de fleste mormødre havde mulighed for. Sådan er det også, fordi tøj er blevet så skamløst billigt at producere, at det for den enkelte virksomhed ofte bedre betaler sig at producere meget mere, end der er afsætning for end at lade være.

Det er et gigantisk svineri med knappe resurser, og ikke bare har tekstilindustrien i sig selv et problematisk miljøaftryk, bortskaffelsen af tekstilt affald udgør også en miljøbelastning af dimensioner, hvilket bliver dobbelt grotesk, når affaldet er tøj, som næsten ikke eller aldrig har været brugt.

Karin Carlander

Jeg har talt med tekstildesigner Marie-Louise Rosholm om, hvordan man kan navigere i fiberjunglen, når man som forbruger skal tage stilling til, om den nye hvide T-shirt skal være af bomuld, silke, hør eller tencel.

Marie-Louise har i mere end 35 år været fordybet i tekstiler på forskellig vis. Hun er mesterlæreuddannet væver, og hun er efterfølgende uddannet tekstildesigner på Kunsthåndværkerskolen i Kolding (nu Designskolen Kolding).

Efter endt uddannelse flyttede hun til Italien og fik der mulighed for at arbejde med Europas fineste og bedste tekstilindustri. Da hun efter 8 år vendte næsen hjemad for at bosætte sig i København, etablerede hun Studio MLR her, men hendes arbejdsrelationer befinder sig til stadighed ude i verden.

Hun laver dels design og trendoplæg, dels arbejder hun gerne og aktivt med i produktudviklingen, når der skal fremstilles nye metervarer til beklædnings- og interiørbranchen. Hun trives godt i maskinrummet, og hendes solide faglige fundering og store netværk giver respekt og mange muligheder.

Marie-Louises designperspektiv har altid rettet sig mod masseproduktion i et ønske om at forbedre og forskønne tilværelsen for de mange. Hun har i mange år været optaget af at forholde sig bæredygtigt til sit medie.

Da jeg møder hende i hendes studie på Refshaleøen i København, er hun netop kommet hjem fra en længere tur til Asien, hvor hun har holdt 20 trendforelæsninger på vegne af østrigske Lenzing Group, som producerer bæredygtige cellulosefibre såsom tencel, modal og refibra. Alle er fremstillet af FSC-certificeret træ og produceret under strengt miljømæssigt ansvarlige forhold: Vandforbruget er holdt på et minimum, og de kemikalier, som indgår i produktionen, holdes i et lukket system.



Marie-Louise fortæller, at man efterhånden har ret megen viden om, hvor meget tekstiler belaster miljøet i produktionsleddet, men desværre meget få målinger af tekstilernes liv, når de har forladt fabrikken.

Det store problem er, at vi bruger vores tøj alt for lidt, inden vi kasserer det. ”Det er meget godt med re-use-systemer, hvor man laver tøj ud af genanvendte fibre. Men for det første er det en proces, der kræver mange resurser, og hvor mængden af affaldsstoffer i det nye materiale er vanskelig at gennemskue. For det andet er der meget, som tyder på, at kvaliteten af et materiale fremstillet af genanvendte fibre ikke er på højde med materialet i sit udgangspunkt,” siger Marie Louise. ”Med andre ord, genbrug er godt, men ingen affald er meget, meget bedre.”

Endnu en god grund til kun at købe noget, man vil beholde!

Tencel, modal og refibra er altså gode bud på bæredygtige materialer. Alle er blandt de mest bæredygtige valg, du overhovedet kan træffe.

Men uld? ”Jo, ser man på uldens miljøpåvirkning i produktionsleddet, så er uld en af de helt store syndere. Det skyldes samme problematik, som vi kender til fra fødevarebranchen. Dyrene prutter!

Breder man derimod perspektivet ud og ser på, dels hvor længe et stykke uldtøj kan holde, dels hvor lidt man skal vaske det, så ser regnskabet straks helt anderledes gunstigt ud. Altså ingen grund til at fravælge uld, snarere tværtimod.”

Dejligt, tænker jeg, og silke så? Silke er jo også et naturmateriale og må derfor på min indre liste høre til de gode materialer, bortset fra at jeg må indrømme, at det er vanskeligt at holde pænt. På den måde har det ikke nogen let gang på jorden. Det kommer aldrig i ’price per wear’ på højde med ulden. Læg dertil, at det faktisk viser sig at efterlade et ret massivt aftryk i produktionsleddet, så er det nok værd at overveje, hvor meget silke man nødvendigvis skal have i garderoben.

Jeg spørger Marie-Louise, om hun er glad for silke, og hun svarer: ”Da jeg for 25 år siden farvede tekstiler, elskede jeg silken, fordi den tog så smukt imod farve. Nu synes jeg faktisk ikke, at den har mange fordele. Jeg foretrækker langt tencel og modal, som sagtens kan fremstilles, så de har samme lækre ’hand feel’.

Derimod er det svært helt at erstatte bomuld, men konventionel bomuld er den mest forurenende fiber i produktionsleddet.

”Det er komplet uetisk med T-shirts til 10 euro,” siger Marie-Louise. ”Producenten ville gøre miljøet en tjeneste alene ved at fordoble prisen, også selvom han stoppede hele fortjenesten i egen lomme uden at dele med bomuldsbønderne eller syersken. Alene det, at forbrugerne vil købe færre af de dyre T-shirts og passe bedre på dem, vil forbedre blusernes miljømæssige aftryk.”

”Hør og hamp er begge gode valg, hvis det vel at mærke er dyrket i Europa eller visse steder i Kina, hvor klimaet byder på de rette betingelser.”

Karin Carlander

Karin Carlander

Det kan væver Karin Carlander tale med om. Hun væver sine brugstekstiler i hør, og hendes virksomhed er certificeret af den prestigefyldte brancheorganisation Master of Linen. Den certificering kan man opnå, hvis ens produkt er 100 % sporbart og hvis hvert trin i processen fra frø til færdigt produkt er foregået i Europa.

Hør er den eneste vegetabilske tekstilfiber, som kan dyrkes i Europa. Det er ovenikøbet således, at noget af verdens fineste hør, hvis ikke det fineste, dyrkes her.

Karin Carlanders materiale er fra Frankrig. De bedste marker ligger ud mod kysten på en strækning fra Caen i Frankrig, gennem Belgien videre til Amsterdam i Holland, fortæller Karin.

Her forekommer de klima- og jordbundsmæssigt absolut mest gunstige forhold for dyrkningen. Ikke bare får man dermed det smukkeste og stærkeste materiale (med de længste fibre), men også den mest miljøvenlige landbrugsproduktion. Klimaet er perfekt for hele processen. Hør klarer sig med regnvand, og man slipper for resursekrævende kunstvanding. Til sammenligning forbruges 7.100 liter vand pr. 1 kg høstet bomuld. Bomuldsplanten efterlader desuden en masse spildprodukter, hvor hørplanten kan bruges i sin helhed. De længste hørfibre anvendes til boligtekstiler og beklædning, og de grovere anvendes til sækkelærred og til dyrefoder.

I mange år var det op ad bakke for de europæiske hørbønder – så meget op ad bakke, at de fik tilskud fra EU. Nu er de på fode igen.

Der er stor efterspørgsel på fibrene både fra interiørbranchen og fra modebranchen, som har fået øjnene op for både materialets skønhed og komfort og for de gunstige miljøaspekter. ”Det betyder, at materialet er blevet meget dyrere i de år, jeg har været med, men det kommer jo heldigvis bønderne til gode,” siger Karin.

Masters of Linen oplyser, at en vugge-til-grav-analyse af en skjorte af henholdsvis hør og bomuld indikerer, at bomuldsskjortens miljøbelastning er syv gange større end hørskjortens. Det er selvfølgelig en hypotese, som er baseret på, at man bruger skjorterne lige meget, helst til de er slidt op!

Når hørskjorten er slidt op, har den en anden fordel; ligesom de andre naturfibre er den biologisk nedbrydelig.

Hør er i øvrigt naturligt antibakterielt og kan absorbere 20 % af sin egen vægt uden at føles fugtigt. Hør tørrer hurtigt, alle tre dele behageligt og funktionelt, både i forholdet til sommertøj og i forhold til håndklæder, viskestykker og sengetøj.

God tur ind i junglen, der er sanselig, smuk og farverig, men du skal fare med lempe!



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