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Journal

on slow fashion & handmade wardrobes

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This post has been a long time coming. For real. Slow fashion and handmade wardrobes popped onto my radar a few years back and I've not been able to shake the idea- planted like a seed in my mind. The truth is, for several years I've felt a bit of a disconnect between my values, ideas, goals and my wardrobe. For several years, I've sat back from this conversation a little, not sure of where I fit or if I have anything of value to add to it. 

And while I am still far from perfect in this area, a few things have happened recently that have really changed things for me.

The first thing is that I discovered mending. Over the summer I started doing a little bit of visible mending, inspired mostly by Sashiko, and the Japanese tradition of Boro, which is mending your clothes using Sashiko embroidery techniques and pieces of other clothes. So far this has mostly been jeans, but I'm working on mending a wool cardigan right now and it's such a blast. I also started altering clothes a little (mostly small things, like cutting the arms off a button down to make it sleeveless and that sort of thing.)

This has been HUGE for me. Because I neither own a sewing machine nor have the ability to sew more than a straight line, I always felt that any sort of handmade wardrobe I could have would be rather lopsided (in a word: knitwear). Mending and altering has given me so many more options for using what I have and changing it to fit my needs.

Along with this, I'd say over the past year I've just gathered a little more awareness about what goes into making clothes. This includes "fast fashion" or clothes that are made in a way that is harmful to the planet and our fellow humans but for me it goes so far beyond this. I've learned through starting up my yarn label that even textiles that are ethically produced, with care to the environment, still require so much work and go through quite the process to be transformed into something useable.

I think in the past I would sometimes approach slow fashion practices with a bit of a fast fashion mindset. I'd go to the thrift store and pick something up that I didn't really need and only sort of liked, because it was second hand and well, because it was there. I would knit things without much thought to whether or not the colors or styles would fit in my wardrobe, whether the design was wearable for me, or whether it would stand the test of time and really last.

So I'd say the other big thing that's shifted for me recently is embracing a more mindful approach to the clothing I acquire- including my handmade items. I've started trying to take responsibity for the items I bring into my wardrobe (how long will I be able to use this? what will happen to it when I don't want it anymore?), which includes both what I buy and make. 

How does this affect my knitting life? Well, I guess I'm trying to plan things out a little more- maybe even knit less (dare I say it?) so that I can knit better. I'm trying to identify the holes in both my own wardrobe (and in the wardrobes of my most knitworthy family and friends) and work towards mindfully filling those, by making garments that won't wear out quickly and can be used for a long time.

Of course (OF COURSE) I'm not perfect at this. And I do still think there is room for crazy, not quite utilitarian knitting projects just because they're fun -this is my hobby after all! But in general, I'm super happy about the direction I'm heading.

So onwards- towards mindfulness in making, and confidence in wearing my clothes every day!

Ruth Werwai