Slow Fashion October Week 5: KNOWN

It is hard to believe that the month of October is just about over. This month has flown by. Admittedly, I am not quite ready to say goodbye to this month. There are a whole host of reasons that I am not ready, but I think the perhaps the biggest reason is that I am not quite ready to enter into our first holiday season since my mom died. Her birthday just passed, so she has been weighing heavily on my mind. This does tie into slow fashion a little because I really started to knit much more as my mom’s health deteriorated. It was something that I could do while I was in the airport or simply sitting by her bead side. Oddly, it is something that now, even though my mother never knit, makes me feel connected to her.

As I started knitting more, particularly over the last year, I rediscovered my love for the wool-y wools, and hence, I discovered some local yarn shops that are close to paradise. There are some AMAZING producers of yarn in my area and where I’m from in California. In the PNW and in northern California, local movements have really taken off, so I am fortunate to live in an area where I have a lot of options available to me.

Some of my new favorites (among many others) have become:

Just over this past weekend, I also discovered a yarn that is milled very near where I live on Whidbey Island, so of course, I had to pick some up. (Abundant Earth Fiber). In the spring, prior to moving to Whidbey, we were able to visit a woman who raises alpaca and spins their fiber. There are also several other producers of yarn and fiber on the island whose yarns and roving I am just itching to try.

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I find that sustainable fabrics, where you can trace their origins, much more challenging to find. So, if anyone knows of any good sources for fabric with sustainable practices, I’d love to know of them. Sewing is one area where I hope to improve my skills, but also become more knowledgable about how to make it sustainable as well.

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Slow Fashion October Week 4: WORN

It is fun to reflect on and think of some of my most worn pieces.

Up until, somewhat, recently, I’ve been mostly an accessories knitter. I had knit sweaters in the past, but they weren’t as wearable as I had hoped – often because of confidence issues and poor yarn choices. But, I digress. I have a few staple cowls and scarves that I just adore. However, I think my favorite one is one that I didn’t knit myself; I received it as a gift from a former client’s mother. That was almost five years ago, and I still treasure it. There are certain things that are totally ubiquitous to me: a cup of coffee (often my orange Hyrdoflask travel mug) and this cowl. It is so simple, but the color and style are just perfect.

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My other absolute favorite was a hat that I made. This hat, unfortunately, got a hole in it and couldn’t be repaired. I lingered over it for days before I finally said “goodbye” to it. It is on my list to find some yarn or spin some yarn so I can make another. Of course, I can’t remember the yarn, but I still have the pattern. I had to say goodbye to another beloved hat not long before due to an unfortunate laundry incident that resulted in a very felted hat.

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I’ve also been able to give new life to so many of the little hats that I knit for Little One by passing them on to friends who have had kids too. It is so fun to see the adventures that my knits have gone on through them.

As I start new projects now, particularly as I venture into more planned garment knitting, I try to consider the longevity of the piece. I am focusing on making pieces that can be wardrobe staples. So, I am trying to choose the neutral colors that I love, and use yarns that are known for longevity. It is so easy to be swayed in to knitting something that looks fun or funky, but in the long run, I just don’t wear those pieces.

My sewing machine, serger, and I continue to work on developing a working relationship. Some projects have been far more successful than others. I am getting much more adept at reusing some of my shirts to make into skirts for my daughter. They are easy to make, and she LOVES them. It is so nice to get some extra miles out of a shirt that I can’t really wear anymore.

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I often think about thrifting and second hand, but those shopping experiences are such a challenge for me. When I walk into a store, it is so hard to wade through the clutter to find the “good stuff.” Getting over the fact that someone else wore it before me (even knowing that it has been washed) is still an obstacle some times too. I have a Pinterest board that is filling up with refashion ideas, so soon I think I will be venturing into some thrift stores to see if I can’t try some. One of my big goals is to repurpose yarn from a found sweater some day.

Slow Fashion October – Week 3: LOVED

How are we almost halfway through the month already? 

The theme for this week is LOVED. 

I am a minimalist at heart, and fashion for anything other than comfort has never been a huge priority of mine. When I look at my wardrobe, I don’t think I look at a piece or an outfit and think “wow,” but it is all simple and functional. More importantly, I like what I have to choose from, and I’m comfortable in my clothes. 

I am proud of the sweaters I’ve knit recently, and they’re getting lots of wear. 

   
 
When I think of this theme, my daughter pops into my mind. She is a child who loves her handmade clothes! Little One loves and wears her sweaters, and she proudly announces that I’ve made them for her. 

   
 

Slow Fashion October – Week 2: Small

Here for week two of Slow Fashion October!

The theme for this week is SMALL.

As I mentioned in my post last week, we recently moved. We actually moved from a house that was about 1,000 square feet, to one that is a hair over 2,000. Our new house actually has a garage and a little cottage on the property as well. Despite the upsize in house and space, we actually did a lot of downsizing of furniture that had been bothering us (we’re moving on from IKEA), and we all went through our wardrobes in preparation for the move as well. This move has really inspired our little family to live more consciously. As I went through my wardrobe, I finally allowed myself to let go of and donate some of the items that I kept from before my pregnancy that I was so convinced that I would fit back into some day. I realized that even if I could fit back into a lot of those clothes, they weren’t really clothes that fit with my overall comfort level anymore; I had kept them on principle. I also put some shirts that were looking a little worse for wear into the repurpose pile. I am a big fan of repurposing shirts into skirts for my daughter.

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As I think about adding more handmade items into my wardrobe, I’ve tried to be much more thoughtful about adding pieces that will fit into my everyday wardrobe. I want to be careful that I am not making stuff for the purpose of making more stuff – I want the items to be functional. I always get tempted to make dresses or more high fashion looking items, but when I think about what I am most comfortable in, it comes down to jeans and a sweater or jeans, a cardigan, and a shirt. So, I am trying to add more pieces that fit into those categories. I am getting a lot of use out of the Audrey Cardigan, which I made at the beginning of the summer. I am also excited to wear my Lila Sweater and my Antrorse Sweater as the weather starts to cool.

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I am a girl who likes her basics, through and through. When I buy clothes, which is rarely because my husband tends to buy them for me, we buy from a company called Threads for Thought. They are transparent with their business practices and aim for sustainability, so we feel good buying from them. They also offer really good wardrobe staples that are very comfortable.

Slow Fashion October Week 1: you (well me) 

For all the details on Slow Fashion October head over to the Fringe Association blog.

The theme for the first week is “you,” and we are supposed to introduce ourselves, our craft(s), and how we got interested in slow fashion.

So, me…

I live in the Pacific Northwest, but originally come from California. I am a speech language pathologist by day. I have a fabulous husband and daughter, who are often the recipients of my handmade items.

I first learned to knit when I was in college at the University of Oregon. I was a linguistics major, but I was able to take the class through the craft center. My first project was a hat for my boyfriend (who is now my husband).

I knitted on and off, and I mainly made hats and accessories through college, my year off and grad school. During that time,  I often knit things that I wasn’t even sure I’d wear or that would suit me (I once knit a cabled tube top – I’ve never worn tube tops).  I also didn’t pay much attention to what kinds of yarn I was using. Being a lowly student, I had a tendency to shop based on price. I also had a bad habit of buying yarn when I didn’t have a specific yarn in mind. These things led to sometimes dissatisfying knitting experiences. I kept on, and knitted a lot for myself, my daughter, and husband.

I also took a sewing class through the craft center while at UO. It was hard for me to get into it as much because it is such a production, and you can’t take it everywhere with you, like you can with knitting. The other thing about sewing is that seems to much more permanent. Measure twice, cut once…I love that with knitting when I make a mistake, it is almost always fixable (and when it’s not, you can always frog, and then yarn is still usable). In any case, my sewing skills are emerging. I have a sewing machine and a serger. I’ve made a few things for myself (maxi skirts mostly). I have also repurposed some old shirts into new clothes for Little One. I’m great at straight lines (most days), but I’m still working on becoming a better sewist.

Recently, I also learned how to spin, and I purchased a spinning wheel. Making my own yarn is amazing! I love getting closer and closer to the source of my fiber. My hope is that eventually, I will own my own sheep and be able to go from farm to sweater. We got one step closer this year by buying a 5 acre parcel on Whidbey Island, WA.

Me & Slow Fashion

My interests in slow fashion have developed mostly over the past year or so. A lot of it has been due to embracing the community of makers more. Instagram, Ravelry, blogs, and podcasts have had a big influence in my considering my choices more closely. I now choose patterns, yarns, and fabrics for items that I will wear and love. After thinking more about where my clothes, fabric, and yarn come from, I realized what a positive or negative social and environmental impact my choices could have. As tempting as it can be to pick up that $5 shirt from target, I try to remember that there is a high social, economic and environmental cost to buying that shirt.

There’s also a huge amount of pride in making clothes for myself and my family. My daughter is always pleased with the unique items I make for her. I am fairly fortunate that store bought clothes seem to suit me well enough. But, it still feels good to be able to make what I like in the color and style that I like without feeling like I’m a slave to a store.

Me & Slow Fashion Month 

This month, my hope to tackle a few sewing projects. The Lou Box Top is first on my list. I’m participating in a few knit alongs, so I have a cowl and a cardigan that I’ll be working on as well.

I also hope that by participating I can continue to become more active in the community of makers around me.

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