We’re now well into Slow Fashion October, the annual celebration of slow fashion championed by the Fringe Association’s Karen Templer.
(If you’re new here, by all means have a gander at our interview with Karen here. And check out her website’s segment on Slow Fashion October.) Here at the House we’re working our way through Karen’s prompts but given the general busy-ness of life, we are taking the “slow” part a bit literally.
One of the many things I admire about Karen is her unrelenting focus on the sustainability of her own wardrobe - she is constantly editing and refining and, most importantly, *considering* what she wears, and in what possible combinations, and what might be needed to fill a gap. She is a skilled sewist and knitter, and has committed to building and maintaining a slow wardrobe. Documenting her practice is key to this.
I admit I’m a serious fan, and that I take great heart by following her journey. My own skills can’t keep pace with my aspirations, but with practice, I’m slowly getting better. This is thanks in no small measure to the seemingly endless fountain of learning and support available both online and from my lovely knitterly (and sewing) pals.
When it comes to what I’d like to make, though, I have the absolute worst case of buffet eyes. I want to make all the things, and now. A few sweaters, yes - I am short on cardigans and jumpers. I could do with some skirts and dresses, especially in lighter fabrics now that summer is on its way. (Even though summer in Wellington often means the jerseys go over the dresses and atop the skirts, and you nearly always could do with a scarf.) I’m also a natural magpie - so I’m constantly striving to stay focused on the projects I have on deck rather than the next new shiny thing.
The truth is I have a very busy and often exhausting full-time job, in addition to the joy that Newtown House is as No2 job. And I am not a particularly fast sewist or knitter. It is time, as a great friend of mine would say, to make room in my reality for the reality.
This is where the thoughtful approach that Karen - and other attentive makers like her - takes really comes to the fore. She is unafraid to take her time. To get it right. To go slowly, with purpose. To fix things when they’re not right. To understand fit, and fabric, and drape - and to stop if she’s gotten something wrong, and remedy it. To pursue an idea to its conclusion - which often means acquiring new skills or experimenting along the way. She is fearless about undoing, about ripping back, about making it right. That she documents this so openly is a great help to people like me, struggling along in the weeds silently cursing our efforts. (Or maybe it’s just me? Please don’t answer if I’m alone in this - but if I’m not, comments below please!! I want to hear all about it.)
So the other day, as I cast on for my long-anticipated Nuuk sweater in a buttery browny Beiroa yarn from Rosa Pomar, I felt the familiar feeling of wanting to race through so I could get onto the actual knitting. Instead, I paused. I got out a book. I thought about my cast-on. I took my time. I enjoyed what I was doing. I decided to just slow the heck down, give my brain time to absorb some new skills, and make some notes along the way.
I may never reach the heights of you multi-craftual, seriously gifted folks in the blogosphere and on Instagram but I’m grateful for what you are showing me: that there’s great pleasure to be had in slowing down, and in learning and then applying new skills one step at a time.
So as we march through Slotober and celebrate being deliberate and thoughtful in our making, and in building our wardrobes, I’d like to thank Karen for taking the time to share her journey with us, and for encouraging us to be unafraid to dive in, go slow, and make beautiful things.
Me? I’ve finished the Nuuk and I’ve barely taken it off for the last three days. Because I am these days a mostly one-WIP kind of gal (which has its perils, as I’ll talk about later), I’m now into the joy of casting on my Ranunculus, which I’m making from a combo of Tukuwool and Hesperus, a lovely silk mohair dyed up by the lovely Nikki at Dark Harbour Yarns. (With a major tip of the hat to the inspiring Melissa at Espace Tricot in Montreal, whose Ranunculus inspired this one.)
The sewing WIPs are yet to be decided. That’s a task for the rest of the (long, Labour) Weekend!