Slow Fashion October: Week One – Introduce

As prompted by the lovely Ms. Karen Templer at Fringe Association:

Hello!  I’m Rachel.

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Sad to report, this slow fashion origin story doesn’t involve a cute knitting Grandma or seamstress aunt. Instead, my journey began on February 10, 2005 – the day that E.B., my boyfriend of six-ish months, broke up with me.  Via email.  To my work email address.  In the midst of my workday.  Which is a tl;dr story** for another campfire, but life-changing in that, within a few hours of said email, my broken heart and I had a) adopted our first cat and b) signed up for a knitting class.

The Cat (aka Nathan Scott Phillips):  I looked into his adorable little face and, without warning, lost my ability to differentiate between “animals I love” and “animals I eat”.  Overnight, I (veg-phobe, diehard carnivore) adopted a vegan diet. Veganism can be a slippery slope of self-awareness; in the years since, I have dramatically reevaluated and revised my consumption in all facets of life, not just diet.

The Knitting Class:  Intended as a distraction, triggered an obsession.  Like many new knitters before me, I started with accessories before producing my first garment about a year into my knitting tenure.  It was a bright pink Orangina (Stephanie Japel), and I wore it to work the morning after binding off.  My bind-off turned out to be less-than-secure and the top started to unravel by midday – unraveling stalled by a bent paperclip, later salvaged – but no matter!  The resulting thrill of making my own clothes is still one that I experience today as a seasoned knitter.


Epilogue:  I dropped the vegan label a few years ago, as I found the non-dietary restrictions of that lifestyle a bit too rigid for my tastes.  My opinions are my own, and I see no harm in buying a secondhand pair of leather shoes over a new pair of plasticky imitation ones that won’t hold up as well.  I love knitting with hard-wearing wool and supplement my stash from eco-/animal-friendly sources or Ravelry destashes (secondhand).  Neither of these actions follow the vegan rulebook, ergo I am not a vegan, despite the fact that no animal product has passed through these lips in well over a decade.

So, yeah, I love critters and try to do right by them. Ditto my fellow humans – although they try my patience at times.  As part of that, the clothes I purchase are exclusively from labor-friendly sources or secondhand, a preference I’ve held since my thrift-shopping, 1990s-grunge-girl heyday.  In recent months, I’ve gravitated towards the idea of a largely handmade wardrobe and taken my first sewing class.  This newfound interest coincides with a major lifestyle change:  I’m leaving my corporate office(/conservative dress code) in DC for a home office in the hills of Tennessee come January.  Home office means that I can wear whatever I damn well please, emphasis on handmade ensembles of varying, um, competency.  What better time than now, I say.

Slotober Goals:  Aplenty, but likely overambitious given that we’re house-shopping and house-selling and holiday-nearing and move-move-moving.  Here’s the simplified list:

Closet Reduction:  Thank my work clothes for their years of service and give them to a new home.  Trim down the remainder to something neat and manageable (and moving-truck-friendly).

Mending:  I have an embarrassing queue of clothes waiting to be repaired, hemmed or otherwise brought back to a wearable state.

Making:  Balancing my selfish knitting/sewing against the rush of holiday gift-knitting, I would like to (at minimum) make the chambray Willow dress referenced in my last post and polish off the two sweaters (Carlu and Roquaine) presently on the needles.

Onwards, upwards!

(** The aforementioned breakup email received its fifteen-minutes of fame on the Jezebel blog a few years back.  Hashtag:  Vindicated.)

Wearable Thing the Second: Fen

…being a little less wearable than the first, owing to poor fabric/pattern pairing and general Sewing N00b noobie’ness, but hell.  A girl has to start somewhere.

You say “Halloween novelty print”, I say “Iron Maiden RULES”.

Luckily, 90% of wonkiness is concentrated around the neckline and therefore easily concealed by a knitted Thing – in this case, my third Arbutus to date – which automatically amps up my Me Made game.  Are her bias facings a mess, or is she just the craftiest of crafty mavens?  NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW.

Anyway, the quilting cotton I used for this top is a bit on the stiff side and did not handle the wash as well as I would have liked.  Slightly faded and pilled and paired with the v-neckline, my top looks a bit hospital-scrubby on its own.  But still:  Pride.  So much pride.

Next in the queue:  A second Willow, this time in dress form.  I have some well-aged chambray in the stash – received secondhand and hauled around for years and years, despite absence of sewing skills – that seems suitable.

Elsewhere on the needles:  Everything.  Holiday gifts.  Lots of stranded colorwork, which a) I loathe and b) is slow-going, as far as my clumsy li’l fingers are concerned.  With the start of football season, my knitty output is bound to increase (as it does every year), so fingers crossed that I’ll have an FO or two in short order…