An imponderable: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters.
Tomorrow is the last day of summer, and even though the Pacific Northwest cooled down about a week ago, and the rest of the continent seems to be under a haze of heat still, I’m thinking about wearing sweaters and making one, too. I am talking, of course, about my #fringeandfriendskal2016 (FAFKAL) sweater, through Karen Templer and her Fringe Association, as well as Instagram, and all of that good stuff. It got me thinking specifically of the particular quandary I have: I have moved to a temperate climate, and I love knitting wool sweaters. This wouldn’t be a problem but for the fact that I am 1. someone who runs warm on the best of days, 2. a complete fibre snob that doesn’t like cotton or synthetics very much at all, and 3. completely addicted to knitting pullovers.
The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t just be based solely on whim or current fashion, but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself.
The idea that has been bouncing around my head for the last few weeks has finally become coherent. That is: The weight, materials and overall design of a garment shouldn’t be based solely on whim or current fashion (though, to some extent, it will be because of the osmosis of ideas surrounding a person, and the materials available, and one’s dreams about a project), but rather the circumstances in which one will wear the garment itself. Yes, big chunky pullovers done in brioche look fantastic, but do you really need a double-layer of wool in April? Some might, some might not.
…if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it?
I’m hesitant to take this thought to its logical conclusion because it seems a bit deterministic. If you want to make that chunky sweater and wear it for a muggy May in Seattle, then by all means go for it. A person’s imagination shouldn’t be stymied by practicality, but getting to the overall theme of my writing today, and touching on an issue Karen Templer brought up tangentially in preparation of Slow Fashion October: if you will not wear an item, why buy it? To further that, why make it? Even if you love it, and it makes your heart sing, if it’s too warm or too cold for your living situation, should you make it? It’s a bit of an imponderable; I am admittedly guilty of knitting pullovers that I love love (love!) but that I cannot wear more than once or twice a year. Is that frequent enough to justify their existence? Only I can answer that for myself, as others will feel differently about their own projects, but I do know that I’m trying to create clothes that are wearable in my new living circumstances. I’ve gone from blazing hot summers and freezing cold winters, to a kind of moderate climate without too (too) much temperature swing. How do I change my wardrobe to accommodate this? I plan to pay attention to how I’m feeling through the next year, and make a few items I’m sure of, while adjusting the rest of my wardrobe to suit my needs. This KAL, as will be the case with this SFO, is about transitions.
Mindfulness is the most important aspect of this intellectual exercise. It doesn’t matter if you arrive at an opinion on whether to tend towards making for art or practicality, but rather we all need to be aware of the choices we make when we create.
A reason I’m enjoying this KAL so much is that I’m able to experiment with new techniques, and this now includes playing with new sleeve and body lengths, too. While I had done some tweaking on body length before now, with my sweater being entirely of my own creation, I have nobody else’s projects with which to compare my own. I’m working on the first sleeve right now, and I’m not sure I like how it’s coming out; I’ve designed it to be cropped, but I’m afraid I’ve decreased too quickly and directly; I’m going to try it on this afternoon, once I’ve got it a bit longer, and see how I feel about the fit. I’m planning on stopping with adding a good length of ribbing to about the elbow, or just past (thoughts?). I like that I’ll likely be knitting a sweater that I can wear when I’m a bit chilly indoors, without sweating my socks off. Open wrists, for me, mean that I’ll be able to wear a chunkier weight (i.e. worsted weight) sweater without wanting to keel over in a hallway. This project is a creature of whimsy, but is also practical and suited to my daily needs.
How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash?
This line of thinking also has me considering my stash. I am only really allowed to knit from stash at the present (a self-determined state of affairs), and will not have purchased yarn for myself for an entire year as of January (creeping ever closer…). I want to go in for all kinds of new yarns, and old ones, too (I need Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter Marls in Newsprint in my life, like, yesterday…. but I am virtuous, and will wait), but I do not want to be wasteful of the materials I already own.
My tastes have changed, as I discussed in my last (brief! manic!) post on my dreams of becoming stashless. I want to wake up one day to a single tote of yarn on the go, and no other crafting commitments beyond what I have in my imagination. How can I honour a life focused on reducing my personal waste and increasing my love of my clothes and surroundings with this stash? I think the answers are there, but I’m working on deciphering them. Knit more for others, surely, and maybe knit for charity, though I am a bit selfish with my handiwork. Regardless of the answers, I’m confident I’ll find equilibrium in my stash, in my life, and in my future project plans. This pullover is steering me down the right path. It’s aptly named (“Migrating Birds”), as it points me in new directions both in my life and my crafting. Is there a difference between the two, really?