Slow Fashion October- Week 1- Intentionality in Fashion and Life

 

Yesterday, I expressed how the philosophy of Slow Fashion factored into my closet. It meant higher quality clothes, more hand made, local, ethical…but what does Slow Fashion mean for my personal life? I certainly don’t spend all day standing in my closet (despite the temptation).

In life, I have to ask ‘why’ a lot. The question begins with acknowledging a desire, and I dig deeper to inquire “but why this desire?” It usually reflects heavily on who I think I am and who I want to be. When I ask myself “why” to Slow Fashion, the answer (and more intimate desire) is made clear. “I want to be a person who is responsible, considerate, self sufficient, and ethical. I want to carefully consider all things and take the appropriate actions”. This desire goes so far beyond my wardrobe!

In my day to day habits, I would like to be a more responsible, considerate, self sufficient, ethical person. When I clean, I would like to do so responsibly. When I cook dinner, I want to be considerate of those around me and my own health, when I complete tasks and manage my household, I want to be self sufficient. Most importantly, in all my dealings with people and the planet that contains us, I want to be ethical and genuine. This transformation, very sadly, does not happen overnight and is often easier pondered than applied. For me, slow fashion is practice for the ‘real thing’. Because what is fashion and creativeness other than a reflection of the interactions with our world and the sensibilities of it?

When I consider how my possessions are made, I become more aware of the lives around me. Do I want this item cranked out in a textile factory overseas, where the only goal is quantity over quality? Or do I want an item that is intimately made, in someone’s home or work space where it is given full attention to detail, and the entire process -from concept to sold product- is filled with joy? Numbers be damned! It’s about the love.

In the same way, I can’t help but care for the person/peoples making my items. They spent so much time and care crafting a very useful and utilitarian item for me (I mean, we are talking about clothes here) how could I not respect them? How could I not treat them well? Slow Fashion encourages me to see people, not just items around me. I see faces and names and long cultivated brands when I look at my “sustainably made, vegan, local” dresses and shoes.When I look at my handspun yarn, I see Kat, the 60-something-year-old spinner who has a passion for dyeing her hair green and sipping pumpkin soup during cold Farmers’ Market days. She shears her rabbits herself after working all week to clean strangers’ houses, and I always have an open invitation to visit the bunnies. I don’t want cheap, impersonal, meaningless relationships, in the same way I don’t want cheap, impersonal, meaningless yarn/shoes/sweater/jewelry/dresses/makeup….it’s all very relevant.

 

 

Therefore, Slow Fashion teaches me to work with intention in all things. Including my craft and day to day life. For the month of October, I’ve moved my office out of the corner of my bedroom and into our small apartment’s living room. All my tools, my referential materials, my yarn, my alpaca carpet, everything is taking up half the living room. I now have a studio that I walk into as soon as I get home instead of a chair in a dark corner by my bed(though I do love dark corners, really) My aim is to bring my love for my personal craft and my love for an entire community to the forefront of my mind and personal space. At the end of the month, my living room will be returned for its intended use, but for now, it will play host to:

My Special Projects

This month I hope to complete quite a bit of work. In an effort to take myself more seriously in my work not play lifestyle not hobby, I’ve lined up a lot of goals to devour in 31 days.

First on the list is my Cloud Escape sweater, which desperately needs to get done and on me. I believe it’s the longest sweater I’ve ever made? We’re coming up on 2,000 yards of fingering weight. Either way, I’ve worked on it for far too long, I need to finish it so I can focus on

Nuvem. A 2,000+ yard, lace weight, hexagonal shawl. Right now it’s a babe, but it’ll turn into a staple piece of my wardrobe when it’s all said and done.

I’m also working on my first two designs. I actually finished knitting my socks, but the pattern needs to be tech edited (any volunteers?) and nice photos must be taken. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this Shibui Pebble mohair, so against better judgment I sketched out a design for an infinity cowl and I’m well on my way to having it off the needle.

Finally, as I discussed in my last post, before I began my journey to Slow Fashion, I “purged” my closet, throwing away many items of clothing with hopes to donate them to Goodwill, Salvation Army, my church,  or I just threw them out into the dumpster. I was really proud of myself at the time, it felt so good to release old, frumpy clothes that I felt terrible in. Shame, shame on me.  Karen Templer of Fringe Association has some amazing articles about why NO ONE WANTS YOUR OLD CLOTHES. She makes it very clear that streamlining your wardrobe does not need to include a purge or adding to the dump waste that already exists. In fact, her sources show that “Only 0.1 percent of all clothing collected by charities and take-back programs is recycled into new textile fiber.” Even fewer donated clothes make it to the hands of those “in need”. Fast fashion has outpaced charities’ ability to sort and donate, as a result, its cheaper to burn the clothing. And by cheaper, I mean about 20.4million annually.

My point being, long before the local Goodwill or dump is an option, there are so many ways to successfully re-home or re-purpose every item of clothing. My final challenge, that will last the rest of my Slow Fashion journey, is to never throw away another article of clothing, or use a third party to  “donate” it. What I have is what I have, I will build on this foundation and repair, resew, cut, trim,dye, ruffle, add on, and cinch up as needed. But there will be more of that in Week 2 of Slow Fashion October when we discuss “Long-Worn”.

Until then, please continue the conversation over on Fringe Association’s comment section and #SlowFashionOctober’s Instagram

 

 

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Slow Fashion October. A Celebration of Slow Fashion Week 1

Hello! I’m Morgan, the 20 something behind Daydream Knits. This month, I’m participating in Slow Fashion October hosted by The Fringe Association. This month will be a celebration of the spirit and mindfulness behind the resurgence of ‘slow fashion’. Each week has different themes and a series of daily questions. The Fringe Association will host both interviews and community discussions on every aspect of slow fashion. It will be an exceptional opportunity to meet new creators and read about how the movement towards sustainable clothing manufacturing aligns with modern fashion and creatives. This first day serves an introduction to me, personally, as a creator and as a maker in the slow fashion movement. 

I learned to knit about 7 years ago, but did not pick it up seriously until 4 years ago when I moved for college. There, I found a wonderful L.Y.S whose owner became a mentor in my fiber passions. I worked there for 3 years and was soon addicted to the idea of having my closet full of hand knits. During my college stay, I became very involved with the knitting community and other makers and artists throughout the area. I was soon a regular at my neighborhood farmers market, rubbing elbows with a vendor who taught me to spin yarn  in exchange for company, an alpaca and bison farmer, and a Nepalese seamstress.

The paradigm shift was jarring. I’d come from a world of quick, factory made clothing, moved to hand knitting, and now been invited to see how the suppliers of my craft lived. Spending three weeks knitting a sweater? Awesome. Spending two months spinning up yarn from your own fiber animals then knitting a sweater? Mind blowing.

To me, slow fashion is hand crafted and labour intensive. It involves many hours to finish projects and the materials are viewed by a fast-fashioned world to be exorbitantly priced. As I branched  into the world of fiber prep and animal husbandry, I discovered that the makers of supplies (the back bone to all fiber craft) had an even more intensive job. Here was where the decisions to be sustainable, vegan, ethical, or otherwise ‘slow’ were made. It was so easy for me to order international made yarn (which is beautiful) or even US made. However, after seeing the amount of care and effort people in my own community put forth to make quality materials, I became a dedicated ‘buy local’ advocate. Once I’d spun my own hank of yarn, I had a higher appreciation of where my store bought yarn came from. Once I learned how intensive animal husbandry was, the more I admired my Farmer’s Market vendors who raised and cared for animals year round, so every Saturday I could have my pick of quality (processed) fiber. The dedication astounded me and I further integrated myself into the slow craft world.

Last year, I was married and moved away from my college town. Though physically removed my community, I remain in touch and visit often. I still call the vendor who taught me to spin yarn and email the bison farmer. The alpaca farmer’s son (who travels the world sheering alpaca) was at my wedding. My stay in the slow fashion community has been one filled with love and close working relationships.It also prepared me to expand my ‘slow fashion’ craft to the rest of my life.

After moving, I also felt a need to purge my possessions via the Marie Kondo method. Sadly, in my overstuffed closet, I found many items of clothing that I’d never worn and were in poor condition. Those were thrown away. To my dismay, I also noticed many pieces that I loved, but had been taken care of so poorly (or made with low quality materials) that they were stained or ripped. I didn’t know what else to do except throw them all away. I have so much guilt over this! All the bags of clothing to the dump, never to be seen or loved again. I took a second look in my closet and realized that the few items that remained were of a starkly different quality than the piles of clothing I’d thrown away. The clothes I kept where special. Three sweaters I’d knit the year before, hand knit hats, “expensive” dresses I’d bought from a local dress shop.

Actually, nearly all the items that survived the move were items I’d purchased locally. They were durable and beautiful and I’d always taken special care with them. I found myself able to repair or re-wear anything that was damaged. Not only was slow fashion something I could apply to new clothes that I made, but also to old! This has motivated me so much to not only make my clothing with care and love, but also to buy my clothing with care and love. Local, hand made, personally loved, and then sold to a customer.

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This is where my  desire to to rebuild my wardrobe sustainably, with hand knits and responsibly sourced clothing has come from. This is why Slow Fashion October is so exciting for me as I anticipate all the other makers and crafters sharing their stories. Please, go to Fringe Association to view the weekly themes. There will also be daily prompts to guide conversation as well as many other makers posting in the comment section and on Instagram. Join the conversation!

 

July What? Anthea Top

July What? Anthea Top

What day is it? The 5th, right? This post is totally happening in a timely manner and this tank top was knit two months ago last week. I’m great at blogging. Shush.

This July I felt especially festive and was determined to cook and dress for the occasion. Italian herb bread, bacon and asparagus quiche, cornmeal and plantain pancakes…but this is a knitting blog; who cares about cooking from scratch and pretty loaves of bread I forgot to take pictures of? I was much more successful at recording my July 4th get up.

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That’s right. Somewhere between four hours of cooking and beer and fireworks, I managed to rock some serious red, white, and blue. Many thanks to Despina Tsiara‘s Anthea tank top. I know everyone got quite the chuckle over how festive I looked, but I wore my knit with pride and fearlessly walked through a farm in snow white shoes and fluttery red shorts without bug spray on. I love my country.

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The Knit:
Does life get much better than tank tops, DK weight yarn, and a US 8? I think not. Wait, it does get better. This lovely little thing took only two skeins of Madeline Tosh DK (Bloomsbury color way). That’s right, just two. Bow down to the magic of DK weight. I made the smallest size which would fit a 32″-34″ and called for exactly 400yds. Tosh Dk has a generous 225yds on it. My LYS doesn’t currently sell any Madeline Tosh but we have one little cubby full of lonely freebies from bulk yarn orders and the Left Behinds from yarn orders many moons ago. I had my eye on these two robin’s egg blue skeins for a while and kept wondering what I’d do with only a little over 400yds of DK weight. You can’t really make much of anything out of that clothing wise, at least not in one color. Oh, so I thought. After weeks of prowling through Ravelry, I found this design. It’s a perfect stash buster!

The Pattern:

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I have very little to say about this pattern, which in my book is always a good thing. It’s well written, easy to understand, and very straight forward. The lace is so easy there isn’t even a chart for it, mm, knitting junk food. This is knit in the round and bottom up. I recommend a cable cast on so the shaping at the bottom really pops. I promise the shirt doesn’t roll up like that on its own, I was fiddling with it. It hugs the hips very nicely and the lace gives the bottom a sweet rolling hills look at the bottom. The lace pattern can be done as many times as desired. I went with the pattern picture and completed four full repeats.

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I’ll admit to being a little doubtful about how the bust would turn out. When the lace detailing is done you switch to US4 and knit an applied I-cord all the way around. Then you knit with the most basic of short row shaping until the bust is as large as you like. That’s really it. All of the shaping happens once you thread your ribbon through the series of yos you made while shaping and pull it taught. I’d finished the tank and had a rectangle, a beautiful rectangle, but only a rectangle. I didn’t believe it would look good or that a ribbon would perform bust shaping magic. Lets go ahead and add that to the list of the many things I’m wrong about. 20140709-130609-47169612.jpg

Gosh, I like being wrong. Though, I usually make an effort to have my ribbon tied much more nicely so it’s straight and you can’t see the knot. I dunno, when the cameras on of course I would retie it without paying any attention, then ask for a close up. That’s just who I am. Still cute though. Right?

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Right.

This top is finished off with an applied I-cord cast off and then you knit up some 6st I-cord straps. You can sew them on however you’d like but I found that putting them directly in front of my armpits gave the bust a little extra pop in shaping and added stability. My only real notes of caution for this knit?

1. Please try on as you go through the bust. Don’t play the guessing game. I tried this on several times and I pulled yarn through different areas on the bust and tied it around my neck to see how it would look. The bust and straps are not independent of each other! Combined, they give you all of your shaping, so if you have to try this top on 7 times and put temporary straps on over and over again, do it. You’ll be so grateful that you did.

2. Think about the yarn you pick. Several people on Ravelry complained that the shirt stretched out a significant amount before they even had a chance to wear it. Bamboo is a no no. The lace and spaghetti straps make this top plenty breathable. Your shoulders, back, and bits of tummy are out (because undershirts are stupid). Don’t be afraid of wool just because it’s a summer top.

3. Don’t rely on the lace to stretch. Though the lace pattern gives the bottom of the shirt a lot of give, this a form fitting, hip hugging tank. Go ahead and knit as many repeats as you need until the lace rests on those hips; I don’t think it’d be nice to have this top constantly rolling up on you. I really like that I can run and jump around in this without constantly having to pull it down. I recommend at least four repeats  and don’t be stingy with your bust. Just take the time to make it right the first time, and you’ll never look back.

Oh, and tie your ribbon with care. Or else you’ll look like a derp.

Derp to the max.

Derp to the max.

 

I’d say this 4th was an all around success. I dressed for the holiday, cooked lots of yummies, and even got some great shots of fireworks. Summer is just getting started, and there are so many more tops to make. Until then, I leave you with fireworks and all those lovely bug bites on your legs.

Happy knitting 🙂

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