Oct 28, 2015

Slow Fashion October ~ Known

My mind has been on overload lately, but this isn't a complaint as much as an acknowledgement. #Slowfashionoctober has inspired a lot of thinking and planning, and I don't see this ending just because I'll be turning a page in my calendar. But here we are at the final week, and I've given a lot of thought to the last prompt: Known, as in knowing the source of my materials. While I wish that I had built a stash of only local and/or sustainable yarn sources, I haven't. My stash has grown from global and domestic travels, fiber festivals, and gifts. On occasion, I've had the thrill of procuring a skein or two directly from a farm or spinner or dyer, and there is something incredibly satisfying about that. But on many more occasions, I've order yarn online or stopped in at a local yarn shop with no thought to where my new goodies have come from.

But here's the thing: over the last few years, I've been dedicated to knitting from my stash and when I started my blog, it was with this idea in mind. I love my stash and can remember how each skein got there. So, in many ways, that's my known and I'm okay with that. Do I want to be more intentional going forward? You betcha! I love the idea of committing to learning more about where my yarn comes from and how it's been processed. I also love the idea of putting my money toward sources that sustain communities and/or makers in concrete ways. So, as the saying goes, it's never too late to try harder and learn more.

As you can see from my photo, I've been busy knitting from my stash. A while back, I designed a fingerless mitt pattern that I'm just returning to and writing up. I've been personally test knitting the pattern and it's almost there so I hope to release it soon. Now I just have to think about who should get all these mitts!

Oct 23, 2015

What's in a Color?

I have to start by saying how excited I was to see my post mentioned on Fringe Association today.  I've been a dedicated reader and follower of Karen Templer's since her early days (do you remember when her blog was called Yarnover?), and through her efforts and writing, I've learned so much about this industry that we all love so much.  Her blog and shop really speak to my own aesthetic, and it was such a treat to have my thoughts on knitting for those I love included in her Elsewhere post.

This leads to where I'm at today with my current project which is humming along but not without its hiccups. As of last night, I finished the back of the sweater and am looking forward to soaking and blocking both pieces before kitchnering (is that even a word?) the front to the back.  This will be a real test to see if what I have in my mind can be applied to a three-dimensional object!

But I must confess that I'm pushing through with this beloved project with a lot of blind faith. I'm going to come clean here and tell you that I might run out of yarn. I realized half-way through the back section that this project needed another two skeins of Manos Maxima so I went to my LYS and bought what looked like my original skeins.  I'm knitting with a natural white and the number on the new tag matched the number on the old tag. But once I got the skeins home and held them up to my knitted fabric, the new skeins were definitely more white than natural.  

What's a knitter to do?  Right, run to the next LYS. I was so excited to see that they had a skein of what I needed but only that ... a skein.  So, I'm hoping against hope that I'll have enough to knit two sleeves because I'm totally in love with how this sweater is turning out so far.  

Oct 20, 2015

Slow Fashion October ~ My Constant

I'm often surprised when I come across articles or posts about how to save money by limiting one's quarterly or sometimes monthly clothing budget.  Um, ... what?  People have a regular budget included in their monthly allowance to actually buy new clothes?  Maybe it's because I grew up in a very modest and frugal home with parents (okay, mainly my mother) who recycled, added length to hems when necessary, and made whatever we had work until threadbare.  Now, don't get me wrong:  I indulge when I fall in love with a certain style of pant, or shoe, or coat.  But, in general, I don't spend a lot of time shopping or replacing my clothes for the next trend, or adding to my wardrobe just because I can.

This week's #slowfashionoctober theme is WORN (i.e. heirlooms / second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …). I have a lot of pieces in my wardrobe that I've had for many years, love, and wear season after season, but I couldn't zero in on one thing that fit this concept.  And then I looked down at my one constant.

You see those gold bangles on my wrist?  There are six delicate bracelets there but in the beginning, I was given seven, one for each day of the week.  In an old Chinese custom, mothers give daughters these seven bracelets when they reach puberty, and I've had these bracelets on my right wrist since I was 13 years old.  Once they were placed on my wrist, I never took them off.  Yes, you read that correctly ~ I'm now 52 years old and I've had these bangles on my wrist, non-stop, for the past 39 years. These have seen me through adolescence, college, graduate school, marriage, pregnancies, births, and now perimenopause.  They go with anything and everything that I wear, and I know that I would feel absolutely naked without them.  So, yes, these are my most worn objects, and I'll never tire of them. Oh, and the colorful enamel bracelet is from a recent, magical trip to Barcelona (and I never take this one off now either!).

Oct 13, 2015

Slow Fashion October: What Makes A Good Sweater Great

We are entering week 3 (week 3, people!) of Slow Fashion October, and our prompt is to think/write about an item we love:  our proudest accomplishment, our most loved item, our oldest thing that's still in rotation or an item we worked on for a long time.

When I embarked on my #slowfashionoctober sweater, I did it with two things in mind: one was to spend some time in the prep work of conceptualizing and designing a hand-made garment.  The other was to break down the process and take my time with each step of knitting it. This has forced me to slow down and really think about each step as I go.  What has been really interesting about this process is that I'm typically a very patient person in all areas of my life ... except, I'm discovering, when it comes to my knitting. This is where I totally fall down and get some bruises along the way ~ yes, I have been known to frog a project or two because of my haste.

Case in point:  a couple of years ago, I designed and knitted a sweater for my daughter. I'm incredibly lucky to have a teenager who still asks for hand knits and who wears whatever I make with glee.  Winter was approaching, and she asked for something very specific ~ something with cables, a bit cropped, and in white.  Out of my head popped this .....

.... and I was really proud of how this came out.  I spent a fair amount of time looking at lots of cable sweaters and did a few quick sketches and then cast on what I imagined would be the right number of stitches for the raglan shaping and ultimate cable/seed stitch design.  No, I did not swatch.  No, I did not take accurate measurements.  No, I did not apply the proper math.  And as you can see, the raglan shaping is slightly off kilter, the hemline is uneven where the seed stitch panel starts, and the sleeves are just a tad too long.  But you know what?  She loved it, got a ton of compliments from her friends, and it kept her warm all winter long.  Most importantly, I upped my skills and learned a lot (although it still has taken me two years to finally commit to swatching!). Oh, and don't worry, I didn't frog it ~ she just wears it in its glorious wonky state.

Fast forward to #slowfashionoctober and I'm now working on a new sweater for my girl. This time, she's requested something squishy, textured, and, yes, again in white. I've done my swatching, I've taken her measurements, and I've calculated the math. This time, I'm pushing my skills further yet in that this sweater is being knit in four pieces: front, back, two sleeves, and I'll be seaming them together.

I have only once knitted a sweater from the bottom up but still seamless so this will test my sewing abilities which need to be stretched. The brioche stitch is lovely to work on and I cant' say enough about Manos Maxima ~ squishy doesn't do the yarn justice.

While I'm not truly answering the prompt as neither sweater is the most loved, or took the longest time to knit, or is my proudest accomplishment, I think they both fit into this week's topic as I do love knitting for my daughter who perhaps I can genuinely say is my muse.  That's what makes a good sweater great ... knitting it for someone you love.