creative-hours

slow fashion: LOVED

There’s one thing that I don’t understand about the knitting world: the concept of knitworthiness. Basically the concept is this: you don’t want to knit something for someone who doesn’t care two beans about hand-knit items, or won’t take care of them the same way you would. The implication is, even if you love someone dearly, the theory is, that doesn’t mean that person is inherently knitworthy.

I disagree.

I super love giving gifts to people. My first memory of my mother’s birthday (I must have been 3 or 4), was being given some money to walk next door to my grandmother’s book store and buy a gift.  I chose a t-shirt with a gigantic, sparkly pink flower (sorry, Mom).  It was so fun that I begged to do it again and again.  Pretty young, I started saving up my allowance to buy gifts on my own. Gifts and art supplies. Best of both worlds, I sometimes saved up to buy supplies for making gifts for people. We had a really fun Christmas one year, when the family budget was tight, and we all decided to either make or thrift things (or make with thrifted things, or thrift art supplies, double-espresso-shots of fun).

I can’t remember anyone ever being in the least unappreciative about what I made or gave. I never heard anyone say this is not what I wanted until well into adulthood – 23 or 24, I think (and in that case, it was truly helpful feedback, and easy to change, like I appreciate the shoes but these are not the right size). My childhood embroidery is framed and hanging in my parents’ bathroom, or was for many years. A painting I made in summer camp hangs in my grandparents’ house, even though of course it’s super childish. I don’t know if my brother has ever worn the stranded-colorwork-binary-coded scarf I made for him, but he was super sweet about the effort. People who love you? They’re going to understand that you make things out of love, and they’ll appreciate the gesture. And if you’re good, as you get older, you get better at identifying what giftees want, and giving better gifts (hand made or not).

So for this week, during #slowfashionoctober, let’s start thinking about Slow Gift-Giving.  The people you love are knitworthy. They are giftworthy, basically, and if you want to, you should just freaking make them something without worrying if they’ll dry clean it or not, or whether you’re wasting the many hours of making (although no pressure, man, you can’t spend 20 hours making a bespoke pair of jeans for everyone you love every birthday).

I’ve started thinking about this, and the people I want to make for this year, because there are, as I’m writing this, 83 days until Christmas, and I have a few special gifts planned for my Little and his BFF. Wish me luck with my time management, and good luck to you in any of your gift-making!

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He made my dream come true

I was brave today and tackled the refrigerator.  A frustrating, hit-my- limit-ready-to-explode week at work had ended.  So what better thing to do on Saturday morning? The fridge hadn’t been cleaned in months …yes months (I am not proud to admit this).

And oh my…. it was a true adventure: 4 containers of sour cream with small amounts of green goo, a small pitcher with what must have been some sort of sauce that boasted its own ecosystem…. I don’t need to go into great detail.

The upside was a lunch consisting of wonderful finds: 1 canned peach, a small sliver of almond paste, a small glass of homemade grape juice.  I think cleaning the fridge was my way of taking control over a small part of my life after feeling so out of kilter all week.

Another get-my-life-back-in-order task was organizing my yarn stash.  I had skeins of yarn hither and thither throughout the house in various drawers and closets.  My first year of knitting I was monogamous – 1 project and 1 yarn.

This soon deteriorated – kind of like my fridge.  I didn’t know what I had where and how much.  As I was walking through the grocery store one day, a wine bottle rack caught my attention and an idea struck me – this is exactly what I needed for organizing my yarn – only bigger.

I am blessed to be married to a handy man, woodworker, artist, photographer, birder, luthier, computer guy.  Upon returning home from shopping I chattered and chattered about this great idea.  Well, you know what he did?  Yup…. he made my dream come true.  All my yarn is now in one spot right by my chair where I knit at night, beckoning to me and whispering dreams of projects ahead.

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creative-hours

slow fashion: think small

Isn’t it ironic that the topic this week for #slowfashionoctober – SMALL – strikes me as one of the biggest? I could talk about sustainability, sewing for my son (sewing small things is so cute), how I deal with fabric/yarn stashes (or not)… but let’s start with one of the small, everyday reasons I love the idea of having a small, intentional wardrobe.

I don’t have any closets.

This is a slight exaggeration. My husband just built an upstairs hallway closet for coats and things (in a nook created by old, defunct chimney – it’s brilliant).

The end result of this is that I constantly feel that my drawers are very full. As you can imagine, this helps me question whether I really need this or that, and to clear out items I do not wear regularly, and ensure that everything matches very, very well.

I have to give massive credit, again, to Sarai’s wardrobe-planning blog series for helping me to think about colors, shapes, and my style in a very focused way. Turns out it’s basically gray, brown, pockets, and hand-knitted pops of fall color. I wear dresses with leggings, and short-sleeve blouses for work that I can layer with my handknit sweaters.

My husband is also very intentional about his wardrobe – he basically has a uniform: khakis, button-down white shirts, a few flannel shirts, a few heavier sweaters always made from the same vintage pattern. He always matches, he always looks classy, and he never has to think about what to wear.

He’s been holding on to one old, holey pair of jeans for several years, though – his favorite pair to date. They’re not made any more. We kept thinking, we could turn them into a pattern and re-make them, but until recently, neither of us had those sewing skills.

This year, since I’m feeling cocky about my first pair of jeans actually fitting, I decided to pull those holey jeans apart and use them as a pattern for a new pair, for his birthday. I ordered some khaki/jeans material from Mood Fabrics (how genius is their order-a-swatch-for-a-dollar thing?). Unfortunately, because of my insane schedule, I had to package them up unfinished – without hems or button-hole (and I won’t be able to finish them until late in October).

He was still happy. And he now has a bespoke jeans pattern, all his own, for as many more pairs as he would like.

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P.S. Seamwork Radio launched a few weeks ago – and I really enjoyed the first episode! Put some sewing in your ears!

creative-hours

Slow Fashion: the way to avoid bad dreams?

Hello, my name is Mackenzie, and I’m kind of interested in Slow Fashion.

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I used to have stress dreams that consisted completely of clothes shopping. I would need to wear something awesome for something important, and I would spend hours shopping. Nothing, of course, would fit, or it would all be in black or pink (which I don’t wear), or I would find something great and then it would fall apart at the seams when I tried it on.

And do you know what? I realized that since I have been sewing more of my own clothes, I have not had those dreams.

Avoiding bad dreams may be small motivation to go through the hours and hours of sewing and knitting that it takes to make your own clothes, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

remember that time I made jeans? Me, too. They're my current favorite pair.
remember that time I made jeans? Me, too. They’re my current favorite pair.

I sew (a little) and knit (a lot). I’m a full-time working mom with a toddler, and a knitting-design deadline looming, so I don’t plan on any ambitious goals this month for Slow Fashion October. But I do plan to spend some time reflecting here on the blog, about what I’ve made and what I’m planning to make. I’ll be more or less following Karen’s prompts for the month. If you’re interested in the topic, head on over to her blog and read the comments for lots of link love.

There are a lot of factors that make slow fashion worthwhile for me – I enjoy the processes of knitting and sewing. I hate buying something amazing, and then not being able to find that same thing again a year later (shoes and jeans, I’m looking at you). Nothing makes me feel prettier than competence (i.e. wearing something I made well). I have concerns about the labor conditions in the garment industry. I like to avoid waste. You don’t get much more efficient than a capsule wardrobe you can literally design and coordinate to your exact specifications.

Why do you make hand-knitting part of your wardrobe? Do you create any other elements of it?

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older and wiser?

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You have to guess how old I am this year, but I’ll admit that this month, I turned a year older.

And to kick off that new year, I got to start on a new project! I submitted a pattern proposal to online magazine Knittin’ Little, and it was accepted. Last week the yarn for the sample arrived in the mail, and I am busy knittin’ away (that’s not it, above, actually, but stay tuned and I’ll update you when my new camera battery charger arrives).

In the meantime, until more sneak peeks come your way, head on over to Knittin’ Little and check out not only their fall collection (which is adorable), but their Book Club.  As a veteran book nerd, with a child who wants to read every book a million times in a row (I’m hanging on through Thomas the Tank Engine by the skin of my teeth in hopes of better Hobbit days), I’m super into the idea of extending the  fun into other realms with activities and crafts.

Variety is the spice of life, after all.

creative-hours

when you knit a sweater all over again

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Life is full of repetition, isn’t it? The same old grocery shopping trips, laundry, sweeping, brushing your kids’ teeth for the 1,000 out of 1,000,000,000 times… you know what I’m talking about.

So when this sweater didn’t work out, and I knew I’d have to knit the same thing twice, I wasn’t that enthused. But look! There’s a smile!

blog_finisheddecoIt fits much better. I changed the sleeves, so now it fits a transitional-season niche in my wardrobe.

It’s such a lovely finished garment. Not too complicated, but it has good details.

And I’m still in love with the Silky Wool.

I did make substantial variations, though – including shortening the sleeves and changing the sleeve cap shaping (very easy to do because of the way Kate Davies wrote it).

Overall, super pleased. Probably won’t knit again for a number of years, but have already worn many times since completed.

creative-hours

when i lost the buttons, then found the buttons, then my power went out, and then…

It’s done!

Actually, to be completely truthful (always advisable, right?) I finished it months ago.

And then I lost the buttons. And then I found the buttons, and I lost the backing buttons and grosgrain ribbon.

And then I found them all, but was busy with other things. Still am, in fact. The buttons are collected on my dresser and the sweater sits near the couch, and last night, my power went out for 4 hours, and I didn’t feel up to attaching buttons by the light of a flashlight.

Stuff like that keeps happening.

Also, it’s huge on Sylvan, so what’s the rush?

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Finished with the knitting but not the details

Check out this adorable ABC grosgrain ribbon.

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Icord bindoff (is it just me, or does it seem like it should be iCord? THANKS, APPLE!) is a nice detail for a heavier garter sweater like this. I’m happy with how that came out.

So much activity in my life that I can’t summon the will to buckle down and attach a few buttons.  I don’t even have a kid old enough to go back to school. You parents of older kids have my respect (and best wishes for your sanity right now).

Also, if you’re handling the seasonal transition well, what’s your secret?

creative-hours

Finishing Fever

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Sorry, friends – as the summer winds to a close, I find myself with writer’s block and a bad case of Finishing Fever. There are about a million projects laying around my house 70-90% done, and I just need to put in the effort to bring them all to a close. A little gruntwork, clear the board, and then I can tackle fall and winter knitting projects with a clear conscience.

Speaking of which, leave me a recommendation for your favorite baby sweater. A few are scheduled to make their debut into my circles in the next 3-6 months, and I kind of hate repeating myself. I’d rather branch out and try some new designs!

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Hoodies for Life

A dear friend of mine recently passed away at the age of 93.  She was a bright, smart, pragmatic woman.  She insisted on being called Mrs., becasue this was how it was done in Germany, her land of origin.  Once you became her friend, you were given the privilege of calling her by her first name.

She was also a patient of mine, who came to see me every 4 months at the office.  When she came, she would bring a knitting project she had completed or I would smuggle my latest project into the exam room to share with her.  She sent me a hoodie pattern that was a long standing favorite.  We would talk and laugh about current events, people in our lives, the latest struggle we were experiencing. I must admit,  I looked forward to seeing her as much as she looked forward to coming.  She would laugh during her visits and say “Imagine looking forward to coming to a doctor’s office!”  I would laugh and reply “What we do behind closed doors remains a secret.”

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Her heart started failing.  She called to tell me, “Lita, I just wanted to let you know… my health is heading West and I wanted to let you know how much I have treasured our time together.  If my health does not hold up until my next visit, I hope someone has the common sense and decency to let you know.” She came one last time to my office against my advice,  so tired that any little movement made her gasp for breath.  We again laughed and talked.  She said “you know… they told me the other day that my heart is getting worse.  I am so overjoyed.  What am I going to do at 93 anyway?  I am ready.”

I then went to see her one last time a week later after she had been transferred to a hospice facility.  She was asleep when I entered the room. I sat for 20 minutes in silence absorbing her presence.  Then her eyes opened and suprise and pleasure flooded her face.  We talked for awhile and she said, “You know… I always wanted to have you come and eat lunch with me and we could be friends.” My reply: “We are friends, we have always been friends.”

What else can you do to honor a knitting friend? Except knit a hoodie for a baby who has entered the world – to complete the circle of life.

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Pattern: Sweat Pea Cardigan from 60 Quick Baby Knits Yarn: full o’ sheep 100% peruvian wool ( Red Heart) weight #4 Needles: size 4
creative-hours

vacation with a toddler

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Turns out that vacation with a toddler is not exactly like those in my previous, pre-baby life. I take far fewer pictures, for one thing.

And in the car, when you turn around to calm a toddler? Turns out it’s pretty easy to accidentally kneel on your needle and snap that sucker in half.

I won’t show you the poor, broken end, lest you also start weeping.

Thankfully, Ithaca is home to the lovely Homespun.  Friendly staff with just the right needle (as well as some lovely Malabrigo sock that I plan to pair with some stash to make another Stripe Study shawl). Mom and I investigated that one together. But we were very restrained, I promise. Only 3 skeins of yarn between the two of us!

Thanks to the helping hands of my folks, I did a decadent amount of knitting, though. (And thanks to Greg for driving the whole way both directions). So here, my friends, is a sneak peek at what I think will be a lovely addition to my wardrobe (particularly for transitional seasons): hitofude

photo-(3)I couldn’t resist – light, steely gray? It’s like my kryptonite. I think the 25% silk of the Cascade Heritage Silk will also make the sweater drape nicely. Shall I challenge myself to finish it before the end of the month? Or is setting a due date just masochism when you have a Little in the house?