Tag Archives: slow fashion October

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slow fashion: KNOWN

This week’s #slowfashionOctober prompt is the one I wish I knew the most about:

favorite sustainable resources / “local” / traceable fabric and yarn origins / traceable garment origins / reference books, films, videos

Let’s start with what I do know.  I’ve been pinning a few made-in-Americasingle-breed, and eco-friendly yarns. The knitting designs I’m working on next use some of these.

And I do a lot of sewing with thrifted fabric – including these two beauties that are destined to be the brightest work blouses you ever did see.

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But really, truly, fabric is hard. I’m heartened to hear that I’m not the only one who thinks so.  There are many options for organic fabric, but in order to tell if your fabric is made safely, or is fair trade (much more important to me, personally, than local or organic, but you may have different priorities), you have to figure out not only which country it was made in, but perhaps which specific factory, and then learn something about the manufacturing rules that govern each country and/or individual factory.

Compared to indie yarn suppliers, fabric is a few steps (a lightyear) behind on  transparency.

However, after creeping (i.e. reading) lots of great posts from other sewcialists this week, here are a few new things I’ve discovered (and am pretty excited about):

  • This Etsy shop sells Fair Trade fabric, and it’s not all cotton
  • Alabama Chanin is now producing organic cotton fabric you can  purchase
  • Organic Cotton Plus, Honey Be Good,  has a Made in USA section
  • This is crazy, but apparently a lady named Sally Fox is breeding colored cottons (and raising sheep now, too)
  • And last, but possibly the most exciting of all, Offset Warehouse contains lots of details about the manufacturers of their fabric. The link I included there takes you to info about their Cambodian-produced fabric. Cool.

There, some extra reading for you. Until you digest it all (it took me a few days!), if you have good ideas on how to dispose of worn-out clothing, I want to hear about it.

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slow fashion October: WORN

I just wrote the words waist-boob problem? in my sketchbook, which is newly full of sweater ideas, some of which may be suffering from bad proportions at the moment. So, yes, my friends, my experience designing a pullover for Knittin’ Little has energized me.

Also, my beautiful, wonderful, amazing toddler has decided to start sleeping through the night again (knock on wood). So, while I’m feeling like an energetic mother, let’s talk #slowfashionOctober for kids. Karen‘s prompt this week is basically my manifesto for my son’s wardrobe:

second-hand / mending / caring for things / laundering for longevity / design for longevity (bucking trends, quality materials …) / heirlooms

As much as I hate a top 10 list, I really, really love handmade things in a little kids’ handmade wardrobe, and I have made a lot of terrible mistakes in taking care of those things. I hope a list saves you a little time and trouble. Here are the things that are dead simple, make my life easier, and enable my habit of #slowfashionbabies:

1. In the summertime, let your baby eat while wearing just a diaper. Or, at the very least, take off the handknit sweater before feeding.

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2. If your baby is prone to spit up, just keep a bib on him when he’s wearing a handknit sweater. A friend made some like these adorable ones for her kiddo, and they are, well, freaking adorable. And can be easily made from thrifted t-shirts or scraps or whatever fits your slow-fashion mandate.

3. If you suspect your baby has a blowout poopy diaper… take the handknit sweater off and place in a safe place before changing. Do not ask how I know this.

4. I don’t worry about superwash v. non-superwash when knitting for my Little. I look for yarns that don’t pill and will be long-lasting, regardless of fiber content. We just have a house rule: all sweaters for all ages are washed by me, because my superpower is remembering which things need to be hand washed. I have also started to make the effort to use these labels in every finished piece to prevent disasters. Or, you could order your own custom labels. I keep intending to do that, but, you know… toddlers/work/etc.

5. When do I handwash things? It sounds onerous, right? Actually, no. I have one designated day when I bake bread and do laundry and sweep, etc. I keep a pile of sweaters to be washed (usually quite small, because if you take care, you don’t have to wash wool very often), and each week plop one into a sink of Soak right before I mix up the bread. By the time the bread is ready to rise, I can pop back to the bathroom and spread the garment out to block/dry.

6. Lengthen things. When I’m knitting a baby sweater, I add 1″+ to the length of the sweater body and sleeves. I can always turn up the cuffs until he gets older. So far, that’s meant he can still wear most of the 6-month sweaters at 21 months – he’s growing taller a lot faster than he’s growing wider. And knitting stretches beautifully to accommodate all kinds of widths. (Full disclosure: my tiny one is at the very bottom of the growth charts, so I’m not sure how much the success of this strategy is dependent on having a slow-growing babe.)

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On second thought, let’s call this my top 6 list, OK? If slow fashion can be about bucking trends, surely my post structure can follow suit.

Any other good ideas you want to send my way? I welcome them all! Especially as I’m mapping out my Christmas/winter wardrobe making!

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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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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!

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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?