Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Slow Fashion

If you haven't already heard this term, "Slow Fashion," you will be hearing it soon...the slowed economy has caused many people's disposable income to dry up, and this has inevitably affected when and how people buy clothes. I first heard about slow fashion earlier this year when I started reading more sewing and knitting blogs in preparation for starting my own blog. There are so many women out there who are sewing their own wardrobes, refashioning thrift shop finds, knitting copies of expensive sweaters, creating their own beaded jewelry, and on and on. It's inspiring!

Zoe Wood (article link) writes: "'Slow fashion is not just about responding to trends,' says Adili chief executive Adam Smith. 'It is a mentality that involves thinking about provenance and buying something that won't look unfashionable after one season.'"

Many bloggers have also translated this concept into wearing things that are handmade, by themselves or someone else. The explosion of Etsy in the past couple of years is part of the slow fashion movement as well, I believe.

The concept of slow fashion fits well with my personal philosophy of consumption: we try to buy things that last, not necessarily the cheapest model of whatever doo-dad the house/car/kids require. BUT--we often buy used or scout around for a floor model or "scratch and dent" item. I've always said I have champagne taste on a beer budget, and this applies to my wardrobe as well. As much as I may drool over the clothes at Anthropologie or higher-end designer stores, the budget simply won't allow it. So, I've really made a commitment to avoiding "disposable" clothes--you know, the ones that fall apart after 5 washings and will look hopelessly dated in just a few months. As a bonus, making things myself enables me to know that they weren't made in sweatshops, and will (with a little skill and luck) fit perfectly.

The challenge for me, at least, is that I do want to look current and fashionable. I definitely don't want to be that weird hippie lady with the cloth-diapered, home schooled kids; a weird diet; and the frumpy clothes (because I already have three of those four). So, for now, participating in slow fashion means attempting to use the fabric and yarn in my closet--see, I'm sticking to my stash challenge!--to make clothes that somewhat re-create looks I see in catalogues and magazines.

I am making a knitted cape, I'm working on a 50's ish dress, and I've got several more ideas for things I want to make and wear this fall and winter. Shall I share the sewn things here, not just the knitted?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Finished: Watershed

I've been working on something different each night, so I'm at that point where there are tons of things in progress, but progress is so slow that nothing seems to be getting done. Well, one thing is done...I finished up Watershed, by Amy Swenson. This was a stash yarn project, and also it was a quick project to make me feel like I was finishing something in the middle of all the larger projects that I've got on the go. I really liked it, and in fact learned a few new things: I learned that the order in which yarnovers are done in relation to their paired decreases effects how the lace looks (one side of the front edging looks slightly different than the other), and I learned how to do knit-on trim.

This is really quite an ingenious pattern. First, it starts with a provisional cast on and the bottom lace is knit side-to-side, then the bottom front edging is knit onto each side to turn the corner. Then, stitches are picked up along the bottom trim and the main body of the piece is knit, including the front edging, up to the armholes. After splitting for the armholes and knitting the fronts and back separately, they are rejoined and there is raglan shaping, and then the front edging is continued up and knit onto the back stitches to form the collar; then a little trim on the armholes and it's done! Completely, totally seamless. I highly recommend the pattern--though if I were to do it over, I might modify the lace pattern a bit to make it symmetrical. The only modification I made this time around is to add one lace repeat to the body for a tiny bit of extra length.

I used the Cascade 220 Heathers in Alki Beach I had left over from my Creature Comforts Cardi. I'm regretting that choice now because the other color of Cascade 220 I had in my stash was my first choice, but I wasn't sure I had enough--I would have. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Oh well, maybe I will have to make another one! It's a very wearable style in the Southern California fall weather. I still have some Alki Beach left, too. Maybe some mitts?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Finished: Que Sera (Sera!)

This was an aptly-titled project--whatever will be, will be! I started this cardigan with the intention of keeping it for myself, because let's face it, most of the things I make are for me. (Side note--I'm not ashamed to admit that at all!) But as in life, things don't always work out as we plan.

Pattern: Que Sera by Kirsten Kapur, size XS with shorter sleeves.
Yarn: 8 skeins Knit Picks Main Line (discontinued), 75% Pima Cotton, 25% Merino Wool, in Ivory
Buttons: Vintage brass dress buttons from Vintage Necessities on Etsy.

Because I'm knitting from stash, when I fall in love with a pattern I have to rummage around and see what I've got that might work. In this case, I had two quantities of cotton-blend yarn: one lot of Knit Picks Main Line in Ivory with enough yardage to make the XS size with truncated sleeves, and one lot of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Robin's Egg Blue with enough to make my size if I also made short sleeves. The Main Line was so much softer (seriously, I don't know why they discontinued this's wonderful!), and I started to imagine wearing the sweater in cream color, so I did some calculating and went with it.

Since it's a thicker yarn than called for (aran vs. worsted), I used a size larger needle, and made the XS size. I fully admit this might have been an ill-advised choice from the start. The bust measurement for the XS in the schematic is 31.5". Ahem. Not my size. But I started with the sleeves as a kind of a swatch and it seemed to be working out to be something approaching my size. Once I got a fair bit completed on the body, however, I realized that the lace pattern pulls in much more than I had bargained for, and started to make peace with the fact that this cardigan was not meant to be mine. Once it was complete, it was not quite an XS, but there were about 4 inches between the front edges when I tried it on. Bummer. No picture of my humiliation, sorry.

Then, it really started to be kismet. My very dear (and tiny!) friend got an AMAZING job and is re-entering the workforce part-time after taking a break for children for the past five years. I realized this sweater was meant to be hers. It's my "Congratulations and I'm SO Proud of You!" gift. It was actually finished a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to surprise her so I sat on this post for a while--then I caved and told her about it on the phone the day before our big outing (to an awesome show and dinner for her job!). But oh well: she loves it, and of course I forgot to take a picture of her in it, so here it is anyway.

PS: The robin's egg blue Cotton Fleece I mentioned? It's going to be a Que Sera for me! Stay tuned. :)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Finished: Butterfly Shrug

So, my dear little five-year-old daughter has been in love with my Creature Comforts Cardi since she saw me making it, and asked--no, begged!--for one of her own. But, you know, pink and with butterflies. And in her size of course. Happily, I had just under three skeins of Knit Picks Swish DK in Petal left over from her little girl Bella Mittens [Ravelry project page link], so I measured her and found a beautiful butterfly cable motif in one of my new knitting reference books and made this for her:

Other than the size and cable motif, I also modified the collar a bit--you can hardly see it in the photos because her hair covers it, but I did a little bitty shawl collar. I think if I were to do it over again, I would make the shawl collar a little bigger, but it's still cute as-is.

I take it back.

There will be no Zick Zack Tunic for me in the near future. I know I said I would finish it, but I am realizing that there is a very good reason it's been sitting for over a's not fun for me to knit. The yarn is very skinny and slippery and dark-colored, the needles are Knit Picks Harmony (dark wood, which a dark purple yarn gets lost in), and it grows very slowly. I have picked it up twice since I said I would, but it's just not enjoyable. This is a hobby, not work, right? I have so many fun new patterns that I want to do (Delancy Cardigan, anyone??) that it's just not making me happy to sit there working on something I am not excited about. At least I have finished a few other things (pictures coming soon!) so I don't feel spread TOO thin among all of my works-in-progress.

Now my only dilemma is to frog, or to let it sit a while longer and see if I ever feel like getting back to it. I was thinking maybe, when I come back to it, to change the needle tips to nickel and see if that helped me see the stitches better (love those interchangable needles!).

Knitters, how do you decide when to give up on a project?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Forehead, meet palm.

Take a look at this lace chart key, and then I have a question for you.

/ = K2tog, knit 2 stitches together

\ =ssk, slip 2 stitches together and knit them together through the back of the loops

0 = YO, yarn over

^ = Sl2 K1, psso, slip two sts as for ssk, k1, pass the slipped stitches over the k1

If you were knitting along on the set-up row for a brand new pretty cardigan, and saw the ^ symbol on the chart, would you:

a. slip two sts as for ssk, k1, pass the slipped stitches over the k1 and move on.

b. Sl2 K1, psso and move on. (Ha! Trick question already!)

c. *Sl2 K1, psso, then slip two additional sts as for ssk, k1, pass the slipped stitches over the k1, then tear your hair out over why you can't make the lace repeat add up to the required number of stitches; rip out the set up row; do the EXACT SAME THING again and wonder yet again why the stitch count isn't adding up. Rip out again and try making all six of the stitches you've been working with turn into one stitch at the end of the process so it matches the chart.* Repeat from * to * twice. Start dinner about 30 minutes late and be an extreme grouch to your entire family all evening while you wait for kind Ravelers and the very nice designer to respond to your questions about the pattern. Realize right before bedtime that you're an idiot and fix the set up row sheepishly.

Guess which one I did?

PS. On a related note, I have cast on for Pinnet by Amy Christoffers (or Pinnate, if you believe the pattern itself over its Ravelry page) in Queensland Collection Bamboo Cotton. I got it the day I decided not to buy any more yarn for a good long while, at Tuesday Morning. (I guess you could say it was my last hurrah.) It's really silky and soft. Pattern photo below...

PS #2. Things are going very well on my finishing crusade! I will have some pretties to share very soon.