Winter reading: just finished

I just finished reading a book that‘s been on my list for a while now, The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski.

A fascinating work by Professor Przybyszewski, a historian of law, fashion and culture describes the past and the development of fashion, fads (which used to mean For A Day!) and dress codes.

What fascinated me was the decline of Home Economics as women‘s options in academia opened up, and how Pop Art, the feminist movement and the Youth Quake of the 60s and 70s shifted the focus of fashion designers and of society to youth as the ideal of Beauty.

I wonder what she’d think of the Kardashians’ influence on the modern body beauty ideal and athleisure…

Kudos as well to Prof Pski, for integrating African American Dress Doctors into her book. This led me to research African American Dress Doctors Charleszine Spears and Ella Mae Washington, who also penned a teaching text in 1949 called Color in Dress: for Dark-Skinned People. Luckily, I have come across a digital copy archived by the American National Museum of African American History and Culture.

My Pinterest board to accompany the book.

Art in Everyday Life by Harriet and Vetta Goldstein

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Interview:Guilt-free knitting

Knitting as Self-care

The best way to get through winter, especially after the party season is to take time for a little self care.

Dion Evette is a young author, who considers self-care as different from self-centredness. Here’s what she had to say:

Why did you decide to write this book?
It was actually suggested that I write a book on self-care by a couple of friends who were looking to take better care of themselves and stay on top of their pampering skills. Better to help them act ‘as if’.

What was your inspiration?
I wrote this book as the pampered housewife, what I believe to be the pampered housewife. At least the one that lives in my head. She lives a very opulent lifestyle.

So the pampered housewife is being pampered by herself?
Yes. I feel the pampering starts with yourself. When your husband and those around you see how well you take careo of yourself, they know that they need to step up their game and I believe it gets you even more spoiled in the end. They want to be a part of what makes you happy and relaxed, so they go above and beyond to make that happen.

Why do you think women are often afraid of self-care?
I think the we are shamed into being afraid of self-care as if indulgence is a sin. As a black woman in [The United States of] America you often get the “who do you think you are?” look as if it is crazy for you to seek any kind of comfort. I believe women of all backgrounds feel some semblance of this pressure at some point in their lives. As humans we believe the more we work and the less we relax means that we are working hard and doing better when we are actually doing harm to ourselves.

What role do hobbies play in self-care?
I think that hobbies are the most fun and exciting part of self-care! You get to try out all the different crazy things you put on your bucketlist as a teenager and find what suits you the most. Hobbies make you happy and just sitting around and vegging out in the bath tub might not be your thing. Maybe you like to watch movies alone or go hiking with a friend or to a cooking class. So many things to do so always make time in your schedule to try a new thing; you might just find a new hobby.

A lot of people, but knitters in particular use acquisition of things (we call it stash) to feel good. And then hide it from their partner. What’s the difference in your opinion between stash and self-care?
I think the huge difference between stash and self-care is the absence of shame in self-care. No need to hide how well you treat yourself because you have no fear that anyone will look down on you for it or think you selfish. That’s the whole point of self-care – getting comfortable being the receiver that you naturally are.

Other Self-care links:Becky Stewart at KnitOm talks about Knitting to help with stress, depression and chronic pain.

Summer Reading

macro photography of black sunglasses on sand
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

My kids absolutely hate the thought of doing anything remotely school-related during the summer. And that includes reading anything that could possibly be edifying or remotely educating in any way. I, on the other hand, like to stock up on books throughout the year so that I have something nearby to read, when the days get too sticky and muggy for me to even contemplate taking up a knitting needle.

Here are a few books (fiction and non-fiction), that I’ve read in summers past, that I can recommend, and what’s on my ‘reading now’ part of the bookshelf… What are you reading this summer?

Books to Change how we see People
Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The reading of this taught me that gender does not have anything to do with love, friendship and heroism.
Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. Fascinating what behavioral scientists learn about us humans.
Going, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. Recently translated German bestseller about Germany’s attempt to come to grips with what immigration really means.

Books to Change how we see the world around us
The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Another translated bestseller written by a forester about how trees grow, form friendships, raise their kids and have a different sense of time than we do.
The Swarm: A Novel by Frank Schätzing. Packed with research and action, bringing science fiction and environmentalism together. I would love this to be filmed.

On My Bookshelf
Limit by Frank Schatzing. My son gave this to me as a gift, and it’s a bit of a doorstop.
Book of Knitting Patterns by Mary Thomas – I jump backwards and forwards trying to envision these timeless patterns in modern yarns living in my stash at the moment.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin  Nosrat. Because it’s lovely to laze somewhere in the shade and read about food and look at the gorgeous illustrations.

 

 

Other reading lists:

Guardian reading list

TED’s summer reading list

Wedding knits

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So knits for weddings? Apparently it’s a Thing.

So, in honour of Ms. Meghan Markle’s wedding to HRH Henry Prince of Wales, I thought we’d take a look at wedding knits.

Handcrafted wedding Dresses have been around for as long as there has been handcrafting.

 

Shirley Paden’s Lace Dress and the crocheted Chrysanthemum Gown by Chi Krneta (on a slight side note: Shirley Paden is an amazing designer – a designer’s designer. And her book Knitwear Design Workshop is a true knitter’ resource).

These days there are also wedding veils, wedding shawls, capes, capelets, boleros and shrugs, wristlets and the list goes on. (To illustrate, I’ve chosen clockwise from top left: Nicole Markley’s I Thee Wed fingerless gloves, Carol Feller’s Summer Affair, Louise Fitzpatrick’s Summer Rose capelet and Alison Reilly’s Wedding Canopy Chuppah) Often done in fingering or laceweight yarns, these pieces can and do become hierlooms for the families lucky enough to have such a  dedicated crafter in their midst.

Technically, anyone can knit a wedding item: ‘all’ that is required is time, patience, ability to follow a pattern and willingness to frog to correct any errors.  Would you knit for your or a loved one’s wedding? Or have you?

I hope you enjoy the royal wedding. I know I will. I’m inviting friends over for a viewing with champagne and finger sandwiches! And maybe some knitting…

 

 

Scifi and Avantgarde fashion

Comme des Garcons ss2018
Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons SS2018

Looking at the work of Avantgarde Designers like Rei Kawakubo is a little bit like reading a science fiction book in one gulp. It’s not the same Thing as looking up what trend forecasters are saying or projecting for the next Season (or several Seasons in advance) – although that can be fun too.

My Book Club is looking at science fiction novels, and I had the distinct pleasure of reading prolific author Ray Bradbury’s ‘There will come Soft Rains‘ from “The Martian Chronicles” at our Christmas Party. It’s amazing how stories published in 1950s are still relevant and gripping today.

This month, we’re moving on from “Blade Runner” to Cixin Liu’s “The Three Body Problem.” It’s a challenge, to choose books for people who know nothing about science fiction and claim not to be interested in anything ‘Star Warsy’ (even though Star Wars is turning out to be more space opera/space fantasy than scifi, and that’s ok too).

Just as in science fiction, avantgarde fashion asks us ‘What if?’ In her Spring Summer Pret à Porter collection, I think Kawakubo is posing the question of what it would look like if we were to seriously recycle what we have, now that we are at peak stuff? Through the lense of clothes? One answer may very well be a profuse collage of textiles, colours and prints.

Which leads me to ask myself: what would it look like through the lense of knitting?

Fashion as Design: heroes

What does my hero wear?

nnedi okorafor binti oomza uni
What does my hero wear? Image source: Polyvore.com

In the second week of the course, we have been looking at society’s heroes: Military, pop and cultural heroes. And of course, how these have influenced Fashion, from Bruce Lee’s tracksuit, to the trenchcoat, hoodies and MoonBoots. We were also asked to reflect on our own heroes. And what they would wear.

My hero of the Moment is Binti, from nigerian-american sci-fi and fantasy author Nnedi Okorafor. Binti is a young math prodigy from a future Earth, who leaves her home and Family to be the first to go to University off-world. She’s a member of the southern African Himba People, who cover their Skin and hair with a red clay mix called Ojitze.

In the novel, even though they are skilled craftsmen of futuristic Technologies, they maintain a crucial link through their clothes to their roots.  Okorafor describes Binti as being the only one from her ethnic group going to University, so she pretty much stands out (as she does in the general science-fiction/ fantasy landscape) with dark skin, different clothes and hair braided with her family codes and coated with ojitze.

Her clothes and the accessories she takes from home with her basically help her become heroic, and broker a peace between warring civilizations. The collage above, is my visualization of Binti’s ‘running away’ outfit, which is at once a mix of traditional and futuristic: A silky red skirt, a functional orange softshell jacket, anklets to protect against snakes in the grass, her high-tech astrolabe on a chain and mysterious edan (reimagined as a box clutch). 

What would your hero wear?

 

 

 

 

 

Newsstand Review: Brigitte

brigitte

It’s on my to-do list every year, to have a look in at the Brigitte magazine’s Knit Feature in autumn. This year it’s quite lovely. Twenty-one very wearable and very knittable designs styled with designer (and non-designer clothing).

fotosource: Brigitte magazine

These are my absolute favourites (including the rainbow pullover on the cover). Oversized pieces, relaxed silhouettes, drop shoulders, snuggly hygge-inspired. And yet each piece has a little something to make it extra special – yarn embroidery, colour-blocking, ends left hanging as tassels, contrast colour edgings.
It’s shaping up to be a very snuggly (the German word is kuschelig)  knit-season this year.

Newsstands: Knitting Magazines in Germany

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This survey in no way claims to be a comprehensive list of all knitting magazines published in Germany. It is however a list based on what you would find in any well-stocked local supermarket or yarn shop.

Publications by Yarn Companies – like the one above, the yarn companies are now putting out their catalogues, which look more like Fashion magazines. Filati from Lana Grossa, and Made by Me – Handknitting from Rico. Depending on which yarns the LYS carries, you’ll find a variety of these magazines in yarn shops, but also on the magazine racks in supermarkets, bookstores and even railway stations.

 

brigitte

Publications in women’s magazines – like Brigitte. Although Brigitte has recently branched off into the yarn market. They have launched a wool line, in cooperation with Lana Grossa, they publish a yearly knit-issue, and have launched a Special Edition Brigitte Creative magazine, with patterns and kits for sale. Another notable magazine venturing into patterns and yarn and kits is Landlust, which started out as a magazine celebrating living the good life in the countryside. Their patterns turned out to be so successful, that it seems only natural that they now offer the yarns (lovely tweedy yarns).

 

verena

Publications by craft companies – for some strange reason (probably post-war Mad Men era publishers and ad-men deciding what housewives wanted) most of the craft-focused magazines have girly names like Ana, Diana, Verena, and Sabrina. There’s also Häkeln for you (for crocheters) and a Stricktrends (Knittrends).

A solid exception is Burda, well-known for years in sewist circles, they started out with Burda Stricken, and has recently responded to the growing market for more creative crafty magazines by putting out a Burda Creative with a wider mix of interesting craft projects.

Following this upsurge, we also saw the introduction of Mollie Makes in German, and of course, The Knitter, more or less recycling years-old material for German knitters.

One final note: International knitting publications from the US  (like Interweave) and the UK (like the english version of The Knitter), are available mostly in railway stations or in the larger chain bookstores. Vogue Knitting is called Designer Knitting outside the US.

Where do you prefer to get your knitting magazines?

Food for thought: Yarn

 

“Yarn is not a lost puppy, looking for a home. Above all, … it is a commitment not only of money, but also time.

Knowing where it comes from matters, because you will be spending countless hours together – make sure you have found yourself in good company.”

 

– Hannah Thiessen, Slow Knitting: from sheep to skein to stitch. Abrams Publishing