Oh man, I had such big plans for this month. When Karen announced Slow Fashion October in mid-September I was so excited: What a great opportunity to write about all the things that have been jumbling around in my head since the spring; what a great excuse to really focus on what I am making and what I want to make; what a great way to push me into more regular blogging! But, alas, so far October hasn’t been any less busy than any other month, and I’m now three weeks behind and I’ve given up on the dream of catching up to Karen’s prompts.
Instead, here’s a rapid-fire version (I live in hope that next week I’ll have time to focus on this properly).
Week 1: You — I was very, very into crafts as a kid — beading, friendship bracelets, rug hooking (for a while), art, etc. — and did learn to knit then. But, it was slow, the needles were unwieldy and I put it aside without much thought. I came back to knitting when I was doing my masters. My sister had recently started knitting and I was was really inspired by what she was making, so when a couple of friends mentioned they’d be interested in learning, I was thrilled. From that initial scarf/cowl (knit flat and seamed) I immediately cast on for another cowl, and then took a sock class. I truly haven’t looked back since.
My progress with sewing has been slower, but overall I think my output has been better. I sewed off and on as a kid, using my mum’s ancient (but gorgeous) Singer. I made a lot of bags entirely from my own patterns (read: my coming up with an idea and cutting fabric without so much as sketching it first). I got a sewing machine for Christmas a couple of years ago, and that has really opened me up to making more of my own clothes. I still find sewing more of a hassle than knitting (it’s the set up mostly — I don’t have anywhere I can leave my machine out), but I’m enjoying it and can see myself improving, which is very encouraging.
Week 2: Small — This describes my overall handmade wardrobe, I’d say! That’s not a complaint, though. Having a small rotation of handmade garments to wear means that I really do wear them all (or, almost all) on a regular basis. My Scout Tees (most of which haven’t been blogged aside from Me Made May) get worn weekly, when it’s sweater season, it’s my handknit ones that I reach for, and the only time I wear store-bought socks is for sports (and only summer sports at that — for skiing, hiking, etc. I wear handknits).
Part of the reason for this smallness is because I’m slow. My work-life balance has been tipped in a decidedly “work” direction for a while now, and I don’t have the free time I used to. That means each thing I choose to spend time on takes more time, but also (in theory) ends up being a better piece. When you spend months knitting a sweater, you have way more time to think about fit, try it on, see how it’s working out, etc. Likewise, I spend a lot more time thinking about what I’m going to make, so when I’m free to start something new, I’ve really thought about all the ways I’ll wear or use that garment, which results in it getting lots of use once it’s done.
One of the other benefits to this slowness is that it means I make less in a year (this is not something I usually see as a positive, to be honest). I was thinking about this in relation to Karen’s prompts, and less output means I have more money to put toward each item, which allows me to pick and choose yarns and fabrics that I really like.
For example, knowing it would probably take three months to knit Sibella (no, I have not yet cast on. Soon though!), and that I would wear it for years, meant I could justify (to myself — I don’t think yarn purchases need to be justified in general) spending a little more to buy a sweater’s worth of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus, a yarn I have loved from afar for a long time. I really love what Jill is doing with her yarns (local sourcing, environmentally friendly milling, hand dyeing), and I understand why they cost more because of that. Being slow let’s me support that, which is pretty great.
I thought I would be able to get to Week 3 here too, but honestly, if I don’t post this now, I might not (I already have a much longer version of Week 1 saved as a draft). Weeks 3 and 4 coming up!
Take your time. That’s great you still have your first cowl.
I’ve been thinking on how making less and spending more time on good quality “less” is much better in the long run. It definitely increases the value of each item that is made.