As prompted by the lovely Ms. Karen Templer at Fringe Association:
Hello! I’m Rachel.
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.
(** The aforementioned breakup email received its fifteen-minutes of fame on the Jezebel blog a few years back. Hashtag: Vindicated.)