Sustainable Making

Slow Fashion and Longevity

16th October 2016

slowfashion_760This is my first post for Slow Fashion October this year, a bit late because the issue that keeps popping up for me somehow seems a little sensitive. I am not at all sure that it is, but I’ve been worried that it could be construed as negative. However I feel like Slotober is about open and honest discussions even of the more sensitive aspects of this pretty complex subject. So I decided to put these thoughts out there in the spirit of constructive debate. Bear with me, it is a bit on the long side.

I want to talk about what I sometimes feel is the elephant in the room when it comes to Slow Fashion. Not the longevity of the garments but the longevity of Slow Fashion as a movement. Right now there is a massive amount of momentum for talks on sustainability and ethical production in our maker community and the Fashion world as a whole. All of which is inspiring and important. Still part of me can’t help but worry about saturation points and general loss of interest. Or simply the constant action – reaction of trends. I think Slow Fashion deserves to be more than that.

Wether or not there actually is anything to worry about I can’t say, but if we look to history and the last big wave of environmental awareness back in the 70’s it lasted a while and was then promptly taken over by lux brand consumerism, neon and a shit-ton of plastic. It didn’t resurface in a big way until now some 40 years later.
The 2016 world is of course different. There are undeniable issues with the way we treat earth and each other that are clearer than they have ever been before. All of which creates a backdrop of immediacy (the irony!) to the Slow Fashion discussion as a whole. There are problems that are bigger than us in need of fixing and there are people working towards that. On the other hand I am quite sure that the hippies, crafters and makers of the 70’s believed that they were doing exactly the same.

So my question to our community is basically this; How do we make sure that this positive trend turns into a positive change?

I recently came across an amazing article written by my new favorite person Dr. Mathilda Tham, a professor of Design and author of “the Routhledge handbook of Sustainability and Fashion”. In it she talks about shame and how it stands in the way of progress in regards to sustainable practices. She says:

“… Our first instinct when faced with the environmental challenge is often to say “it can’t be true, the scientists got it wrong, and even if it were true, it’s got nothing to do with me”. The news simply implies too big an adjustment to be digestible, and puts into question too much of what we have previously come to depend on and regard as truths. The second part of the process, when we have had a chance to make sense of and accept the facts, and readjust our previous understanding of the world to accommodate them, often involves feelings of guilt and shame. This again is an entirely normal reaction. The integration of new facts with our old worldview also sheds new light on our own practices, showing perhaps ignorance, inadequacy and neglect where there was before skill and knowledge, satisfaction and pride. While this moment of shame appears normal, it constitutes an important watershed, where at best shame turns into action (…), or at worst prolonged inertia or even reversal to stage one – denial.”

Her words made clear to me that how we feel when faced with the issue of unethical fashion and in our case unethical making is important. Simply because it determines how long we want to stay with it. If we can navigate our guilty feelings and maybe even deal with the longing for fashion as an ethical free-zone, which I feel like most of us have (who doesn’t want to buy a pair of panties without worrying how it was made?). Then maybe we can get to a point where Slow Fashion is just the new standard. Not a thing we perform on instagram, not a complicated road we have to manoeuvre or a place of shame and guilty conscience. Just a habit, a matter of fact. And then maybe new trends can react on top of that instead of rebelling against it.

In my opinion that is one puzzle piece, but most likely not the only one. Please let me know what you think!

The image up top is from Fillipa K circle a new initiative discussing sustainable fashion.

FO's

Skiff hat for the cold

29th September 2016

skiff_01The weather is changing quick in my neck of the woods. Last week it was Summer, mellow and very dry like it has been for months. Now as I sit here looking out the window it is raining in a dark and heavy way, with the sun only momentarily setting light to the red and yellowing trees in the garden. Pure fall bliss. It is my first time experiencing this season here and I am drinking it all in.

As I am starting to prep for coming mushroom hunts in the woods and windy visits to the sea, I am dusting off my cold weather wardrobe. One of the things I was particularly happy to find was the Skiff hat I made about a year ago. I never really got around to writing about it here. But in the spirit of documenting the stuff I add to my wardrobe, I have decided that it is not too late.

The Skiff hat is a bit of a new classic. Designed for Brooklyn Tweed by founder and all around genius Jared Flood. I knit it in a bit of a frenzy over a weekend, and if you ask me it was over way too fast. The pattern is a total joy to knit, which I imagine is part of why it has been such a consistent hit since it came out back in ’14. That and it’s good looks of course. The idea to knit the hat was one of those spontaneous I-want-to-cast-on-now things so I chose a stash yarn. 2 skeins of Quince and Co‘s Owl in the beigey colorway Buru, that I picked up when visiting the yarn shop Stephen + Penelope in Amsterdam a while back. It is a Wool/Alpaca blend but slightly heavier and more rustic than most, in other words a nice respite from my usually very fine yarns. I still have close to a skein left over which might become a pair of mitts soon.

The recommended yarn for the pattern is Brooklyn Tweeds own Shelter which is a bit lighter than Owl. Being the complete rebel that I am, I chose to disregard all common sense and went down a few needle sizes. I had done some test knitting (not to be confused with swatching) and found that I liked the fabric I got on 4mm needles (BT recommends 5’s) and since the Skiff has a reputation for knitting up a bit large, this seemed like a good choice. The smaller needle size definitely keeps the slightly uneven yarn nicely in check and the final hat is still nice and stretchy. It is ironically enough a little smallish for my head and I find that the yarn feels scratchy if I wear it for longer periods. I am not particularly sensitive to stuff like that though and it wont keep me from wearing it. The next time I knit it I might try a slightly softer yarn though.

It might sound weird because cables are of course universally loved but as a person who is usually attracted to basic stitches like stockinette, garter and various ribs, it has surprised me how much I love this cable hat. It might also have something to do with how nice neutral colored cables plays off against the simpler knits in my wardrobe, or any item in there really. It is such a wardrobe lifter. Perfect for Fall which is of course the season of perpetual layering.

You can find more specific notes for my Skiff hat on Ravelry, here.

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Tips and Techniques

Techniques for the Light Summer Tank

23rd September 2016

lightsummertank_12My new pattern The Light Summer Tank is a pretty straight forward knit. Never the less I thought it might be nice to have a collection of the techniques used in the pattern as a reference point if any kind of questions should arise during knitting time. Before I start a project I am usually very patient with my planning, but once I am off I really want to just stay in my knit flow. In my mind having to stop to google and youtube can become somewhat of a roadblock. If you are a beginner, even coming up with the right search terms can be kind of a pain. So i put together this nifty little list of links to great tutorials. Most of them have both videos and written descriptions with images. When I learn a technique I tend to quickly skim the written descriptions, because I have the patience of a 4 year old, but I know a lot of people love the vids. What is your preferred way to learn new knitting techniques?

Techniques used in the pattern

○ Cable Cast on

○ PKFB – Modified KFB

○ Binding off the neckline

○ Seaming the sides

○ Kitchener stitch

Some words and general neurosis concerning the PKFB (purlless knit front and back) in the pattern.
Did I make that name up? Yup… Why? well just to be clear I didn’t make up the technique itself, it is around and well used. It is usually called something like “KFB without the purl bump” or “Barless KFB”. I find both pretty hard to use effectively in a pattern. I could have just simplified and used a regular KFB, but I don’t want to cheat people out of a neater result just because it uses a lesser known technique. So since I couldn’t find usage of this technique in any other patterns, I just decided to give it the shortest possible abbreviation I could come up with. Purlless Knit Front and Back – PKFB.  Alongside a description in the abbreviations list it would be easier to get or at least easy to search for.

My overly analytical brain is still a little annoyed with this, since when you knit the PKFB you simply knit the front leg and then slip the back leg of the same stitch. A more apt name might have been something like Knit Front, Slip Back – KFSB but I think that might have been too hard for people to search for as it differs quite a bit from the descriptions I have been able to find of it. So yeah this is the dialogue I have been having in my head. Quite excessive when you consider the fact that this technique is used exactly once in the pattern. Ha! What do you think? Am I over thinking this? Is it ok to come up with new abbreviations? Who even came up with those things in the first place? Even more importantly is there an already approved abbreviation of this that I have over looked? I am so up for being enlightened if that is the case.

Patterns

Hello, Light Summer Tank

15th September 2016

lightsummertank_b_760

The Light Summer Tank has finally left the nest! Right in the onslaught of Fall patterns… Oh well, consider it a little gift to the Southern Hemisphere. Working on this pattern has been such a trip let me tell you. As a new designer (it still feels weird calling myself that) I probably did everything completely backwards. Sometimes I feel like that can be the best way to learn though. I now have a very clear idea of what a better process could look like, and most importantly I am both happy and proud of the end product. The top is everything I want to wear during summer. It is light and airy. Has interesting details, but still feels subtle and neat. And one thing that surprised me a bit when I first made the tank is how special the balance between the delicate silk fabric and the razor cut shoulder turned out to be. It is equal parts Sporty Spice and Posh Spice. Ha. As you can tell I definitely have some motherly gushy feelings about this tank. It is my first born after all.

The only thing I feel less happy about is the fact that the yarn I knit the original in is sadly not available anymore. If I had known I would end up publishing a pattern for the top when I created it, I probably would have made sure to knit it in a more common yarn. On the other hand I don’t want to not do something because of a little snag like that. Luckily Silk and other Summer yarns are very forgiving, which means that it is possible to substitute a good range of yarns and weights, something I also touched on in my call for testers. Right now I am in the process of writing a little guide with recommended yarns and a how to section for those of you who aren’t familiar with the process. Next on my agenda is to keep building and expanding my design work and the little shop I’ve laid the groundwork for now. I am excited to see where it will go.

You can find the Light Summer Tank on Ravelry or in my brand spanking new shop here. Be aware that there is a slight price difference, due to fees.

 

lightsummertank_duo

Progress Report

A year of Simple House Slippers

31st July 2016

ayearofsimplehouseslippers_

I just realised that this month it has been a year since I published the Simple House Slippers pattern, and what a year! Writing the pattern was a pretty isolated experience of researching, test knitting and generally just being submerged in the thing. Which was then magnificently contrasted when I gave it over to this great community of people who has picked it up, recreated, build and shaped it a million different ways making it their own in the process. During the year the slippers have been used by several LYS’s to teach people how to knit, it has been translated into Korean and German, and on Ravelry and Instagram  an ever expanding treasure trove has been build with images of Simple House Slippers. It also made it’s way around the knitting blogs, podcasts and videocasts at a rate where I must admit to kind of loosing track a little bit. The whole thing has warmed and inspired me beyond what I can actually formulate.

I started working on this pattern because I fell in love with a similar pair of slippers a good friend of mine had bought in a second hand shop. They were obviously old, handknit and felt sooo familiar and classic. I searched for a pattern and even though I found many almosts and not quites I couldn’t find this to me kind of mythical folk basic. So I decided to make my own, and while I definitely added a lot things to it (the toe for example) I don’t think I will ever feel like it came 100% from me. It is a classic, folksy pattern with an actual history and that to me makes it even better. Many of you have commented that your mom, grandma or neighbor used to have and love a similar pair which makes me think that at some point it might have been the kind of model that was spread by oral tradition, from a family elder or maybe even in primary school householding classes etc. as a simple wardrobe basic. Of course I don’t know that for sure but never the less it is now in my, and many of yours, knitting repertoire as a pattern to be revisited whenever there are cold feet to warm or extra TLC to be shown. It is absolutely all the things I love about knitting rolled into one.

Many of you have made the coolest modifications and amongst my favorites are Vanessa/Killtocraft‘s brown pair with added fluffy lining and Dawn/ladybythebay’s purple slippers with the cutest added leather soles that she made after completely wearing out her first pair. The yarn picked for hard wearing items like slippers is super important and both of these illustrate that splendidly. Now I am off to knit myself some new slippers to warm my bare summer feet at night, as I have somehow managed to misplace the “left foot” of all the 3 pairs I knit for myself *face palm*.

 

Images from the top to bottom/left to right

○ Dawn who writes the blog Lady by the Bay‘s first pair in naturally dyed Moeke yarn

Raina/rainingsheep added Pom Poms. POM POMS!

○ Diana Wala used a beautiful subdued marl

○ knit heroine Rosa Pomar‘s saturated teal slippers makes me rethink all my color issues

 

rosapomar