Switching from acrylics to natural fibres

A friend of mine recently asked for my opinion on the best way to start knitting with wool. She’s been knitting for quite a few years with acrylics and has started wondering what was the fuss about all these natural fibres.

1 What’s good for you?
My friend just wants to put her toe in the water to test things out. I, on the other hand, decided that I needed to go cold turkey on acrylics, especially when I started making garments rather than just scarves.

2 A little research
Research- Know Your Wools Deb Robson’s free class on Craftsy; knitfm has some great episodes on yarn, more yarn, and breed-specific wools.

3 Decisions
Decide what you want to make, which natural fibres are right for you. Allergies to wool?then look to other animal- or plant-based fibres. What is your Budget?

4 Test & Evaluate
Test- small projects.  Baby clothes, scarves, cowls, socks, wristwarmers are great small projects to get started. Nothing wrong with going with one ball, to get started. Make a large swatch, and see how it feels in your hands, against your skin, see how it drapes.  Record your experiences in a Journal.

5 Consequences
Get rid of the old stuff: donate, gift, use it up. Replace it with more natural fibres. Or you may consider blends.

Hope that helps! Happy knitting!

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Making & Anti-fashion

Captain Fantastic

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I watched this film with my in-laws and kids recently. I was struck by how differently we viewed the content matter of the film. My kids loved that the children didn’t have to go to school, and hated that the mom had died. My in-laws loved how free-thinking and independent the kids became. I  was struck by the colourful knits and the idea of self-sufficiency woven through the film.

 

 

 

It wasn’t until I was explaining to my father-in-law that Viggo Mortenson’s T-shirt was from African American politician Jesse Jackson’s (and not the cowboy outlaw Jesse James’) failed presidential run, that it hit me: Almost all the clothes the family wore was thrifted.

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Whereas some of it might have been adjusted or embellished, the clothes were reduced to their original function: to cover and provide warmth. Seen that way, it’s absolutely irrelevant that the T-shirt was from 1988.

These days clothes mean so much to many, shaping and projecting their identities. Or the identities they would prefer to project. Never have we been freer to wear what we want, how we want it. So free, in fact, that a refusal to follow any types of  norms of society is also a clear message. Although it may be a message that the intended audience doesn’t, cannot or will not read correctly. This theme is played out constantly through the film: two value systems constantly clashing. Thesis and antithesis.

So what is this anti-fashion message? My guess is that clothes should be about us, and how they make us feel, rather than about labels. The mom wanted everyone to come to her funeral dressed in their brightest party clothes, to celebrate her life rather than mourn her death. How can anyone be sad in a bright red disco suit? Or Missoni lookalike hotpants? Or a killer whale onesie?

Do your clothes make you happy?

 

Link: The New York Times review and interview with the costume designer.

Colour: Autumn Accents

Is it just me, or is this golden yellow going to be a major accent colour for autumn?

 

Top right: Ladies’ short pullover by Tanja Steinbach: / Bottom middle: Goldsmobile Top by Danielle Chalson / Bottom middle: Alice+Olivia Jazmine cropped stretch knit top (Theoutnet.com); Zeus+Dione Pleiades pleated linen-chambray culottes (Net-a-porter.com); Rag&Bone Margot Suede Ankle Boots (stylebop.com); Shan Gold Chavron Layered Necklaces (prettylittlething.us); Lord&Taylor Gold Arrow End Cuff (Lord&Taylor.com); Roberto Collina Knitted Sweater (farfetch.com)

Foto sources: author, Ravelry, Polyvore.com

How to wear tricky colours: Greenery

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I was standing* in front of this larger than life print of Ruth Bernhard’s Young Gingko Tree, when I realized this was the solution to a colour challenge posed by Justine Leconte on her popular youtube channel.

Let me catch you up a bit. Justine Leconte is a young independent french designer, based in Berlin. She has a wildly popular vlog about fashion and design on youtube. Her episode on coming to terms with Greenery (Pantone’s 2017 Colour of the Year) was sadly unsuccessful, although fascinating to see her brainstorming process.  And so, it got me thinking about Greenery and incorporating trendy colours into one’s handknit wardrobe.

My first instinct, was to slap some green onto a capsule outfit, like so

 

 

 

Top: Alice+Olivia Jazmine cropped stretch knit top (The Outnet.com); Trousers: Zeus+Dione Pleiades pleated Linen-chambray culottes (Net-a-porter.com); Shoes: Rag&Bone Margot Suede Ankle Boots (stylebop.com); Sweater: Opening Ceremony UMD X crew jumper (farfetch.com); Preowned Carved Green Jade earrings (1stdibs.com)

It isn’t a satisfying solution, because I wouldn’t actually wear this.  You see, this green has a lot of yellow in it,  and so it can be a difficult colour to wear close to the face. I would rather keep the green away from my face. In the form of accessories. So, I would look to handknits like belts, bracelets, fingerless gloves, socks to add that quick pop of green.

And so, this little Gingko tree inspired me to think of this combination:

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Sweaters: Ready to fish Tilia concrete knitted T-shirt (shoplaluce.com) / Molly Ripped strik sweater (youheshe.com) / Tom Ford Asymmetrical Cashmere Sweater (mytheresa.com) ; Top: Striped T-shirt (Mango.com); Trousers: Marni cropped gabardine wide leg pants (net-a-porter.com); Sneakers: Sequin Full Kelly Green Canvas Converse Canvas Lowtop sneaker (Etsy.com) /Adidas Originals superstar boost silver metallic (Jade24.com); Ring: Pre-owned Antique Imperial Jade Platinum Ring (1stdibs.com); Pendant: Maori Jade Pendant (billythetree.com); Watch: Vernier Gold and Green Bangle Watch (Zulily.com); Bag:Michael Kors Jet Set Medium Saffiano Leather Tote (designerscentralstore.com)  

Yup, when in doubt, Nature almost always has an answer. Or even more than one answer:

 

 

Photo: Northern Light over the Taiga by Olivier Grunewald; Rose Prickle by Thomas Wolf and Bernd Seydel

Would I wear either of these combinations? Red and green, or Purple and green? Maybe, maybe not, but I would definitely use these combinations for colourwork. Or other types of knitting. A green bracelet with red or even purple beads. An i-cord ring with a felted flower in green with a purple centre.

 

*The exhibition is called The Wonder of Nature and is running at the Gasometer in Oberhausen until November30, 2017. Quite spectacular photographs and video installations of plants and animals from all over the world.

Capsules and Colour

 

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Blouse: Dolce&Gabbana wrap jumper (farfetch.com); Trousers: Saint Laurent Satin Stripe Suit Trousers (Brownsfashion.com); Scarf: similar Pringles of Scotland (farfetch.com); Earrings: Hermès Horn Jewelry (usa.hermes.com); Watch: Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Red Silicone Strap Watch 38mm; Shoes: Cole Haan

By transitioning to a capsule wardrobe, you can pull more colour into your wardrobe. You can keep your basic pieces neutral and allow your handknit accessories to sing in colour.

If you already use a capsule or core principle to organize your wardrobe, you will find that planning your knits to match other accessories can make them into statement pieces, which show a mindful intentionality rather than randomness.

 

Top:  Alice+Olivia Jazmine cropped stretch knit top (The Outnet.com); Trousers: Zeus+Dione Pleiades pleated Linen-chambray culottes (Net-a-porter.com); Shoes: Rag&Bone Margot Suede Ankle Boots (stylebop.com); Sweater: Roberto Collina knitted Sweater (farfetch.com); Jewelry: Lord&Taylor Gold Arrow End Cuff, Shan Gold Chevron Layered Necklaces / 
Top, Trousers, shoes: same; Sweater: Opening Ceremony UMD X crew jumper (farfetch.com); Preowned Carved Green Jade earrings (1stdibs.com)
Top: A.l.c. Alber Knit top (Ifchic.com); Trousers: Saint Laurent Satin Stripe Suit Trousers (brownsfashion.com); Cardigan: I love Mr Mittens Blue Wool Cardigan (modaoperandi.com); Shoes: Sam Edelman Felicia Nautical Blue (Zappos.com); Jewelry: Silver Bird on a Wire Necklace (oliverbonas.com); Itsy Bitsy Sterling Silver Bird Studs (kohls.com)

 

 

 

Fotsource: Polyvore.com

Repurposing knits: Recycling yarn

Technically, every handknit (as long as it isn’t felted) could count as stash.

Here, I have decided to repurpose this yarn from a cowl, that I haven’t worn since it was gifted to me. It’s a bit too tight at my throat.

The colour mix is quite fascinating, so this will be the first object to be reworked during the Stash Therapy Challenge.

Weekly Remix: New & Knit

Just a few things I’ve come across this week:

Kinshasa Collection: a new webseries about a film team that delves into the world of international fashion. The Collection was launched on Friday evening in Berlin. The  6-episode series (of which 3 have aired), reveals another side-effect of fast fashion: piracy on one hand, and the pressure of local developing country textile industries. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, because of all the cross-cultural misunderstandings. It’s a gorgeous peek behind the fashion curtain of a country that is mostly on the radar because of the famously elegant Sapeurs.

Comeback of the Cardigan: The Guardian is already starting to think about autumn, and what next. In my humble opinion, the cardigan never went away.

 

Just out:

Interweave Fall 2017: my favourites are

 

 

 

The Gold Rush shawl by Meghan Jones (left) and the Goldsmobile Top by Danielle Chalson (right). I’m usually nitpicky about designs named after the colour of the yarn, because what if someone doesn’t feel like using that colour? These are very pretty and autumnal all the same. The varying colour palettes of both photos are also quite interesting for wardrobe planning.

Fashion Revolution and Stash

Bringing out all my yarn, putting it in one place and looking at it, has put me in the mood to be brutally honest: Stash doesn’t match well with the values of the fashion revolution.

Stash is interesting- it’s a mix between pre-consumer waste and haul. But not quite both. For one thing, it isn’t quite waste, because it isn’t discarded. How are you going to throw away something you had in your hands for hours, while making something as glorious as this?

 

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Sattva: my Zero-waste shawl

Some of it is leftovers, and some of it is haul. There’s no getting around that. It’s a little secret knitters, crocheters and other makers will gladly overlook because we often think there’s something embarrassing or shameful about stash.

 

Some of it is leftovers, and some of it is haul. There’s no getting around that. It’s a little secret knitters, crocheters and other makers will gladly overlook because we often think there’s something embarrassing or shameful about stash. Or having a lot of stash. I prefer to think of stash as potential. Potential to make something. So having this stuff sitting in plastic containers waiting, doesn’t sit well with me. I’m in fine company of other makers who also regularly go through stash and knowingly or unknowingly practise the Fashion Revolutionista R’s.

Refuse – Yarn diets, or just straight up refusing to buy certain types of yarn unless the producer certifies that it’s GOTS and good to go.

Reduce – Use up what I have, donate or swap for what I will use up. Let’s face it taste evolves. And even if I don’t want this sweater-quantity of tweedy army green yarn, maybe someone else does (hit me up! I will pay postage!LOL!).

Reuse – Yes, I have and will continue to unravel and reuse yarn because that’s the cool thing about yarn (unless it’s already felted), it’s reuseable. Even felted is reuseable, if you know how…

Recycle – Imagine walking into a second hand shop and seeing not just clothes hanging. What’s hanging there is fabric, waiting to be reused. Yarn, waiting to be unravelled and reused (there’s even a Ravelry group for this).The first time I realized that, I was standing in the middle of a thrift shop. I had to step out to get that giddy feeling under control. Whether this last tip leads to stash growth or not, is not for me to say. I’m just putting it out there.

 

My stash: some of it is second hand, some is vintage, some is swapped. All of it is slow and all of it is loved.

 

 

Resources:

Fashion Revolution’s #Haulternative e-book; How to be a Fashion Revolutionary e-book, Action Kit for Makers.

Bea Johnson’s Zero Waste Home blog is very much worth a look see. Her 5th R (rot/compost ) makes me nervous on behalf of my stash. Until I remembered this picture  of how natural and synthetic fibres decompose. Bea had a lovely TEDx talk about her lifestyle, you’ll find it here with 5 other talks about downsizing.

 

 

*I called Kara Gott Warner’s Sattva Shawl ‘zero waste’ because when I knit it, I made a few small modifications (a row of eyelets through to break up the plain reverse stockinette body) and ended up with no waste. I bound off (playing yarn chicken beings excitement to an otherwise very calming endeavour) and had such a little fitzelchen  (sometimes a semi-made up German word is what one needs for accuracy) of yarn left over, that I didn’t even have enough to weave in with a needle.

 

 

How to wear more of your knits

Summer edition

 

The easy answer to the question of wearing what you knit (without looking weird), is to knit what you will wear more often, perhaps over years. Something that won’t get dated, but that will become a favourite.

Since we are on to the last weeks of (Northern hemisphere) summer, I thought I’d do a round up of a few patterns, that aren’t brand spanking new, but could become classics. They’re some of the results from a Ravelry search for lacy summer tops, but these stand out because I could wear any one of these to the beach with shorts, or to a summer wedding. It’s just a matter of styling.

 

Colour

Did you notice? Three out of the four knits above are neutrals – yes, blue is a neutral, especially navy and denim. So, if you like to kick your heels up in bright, graphic or patterned shorts, jeans, skirts or trousers, then knits in neutral colours will go far!

If you spend winter dreaming of the perfect white jeans, wide-legged linen trousers and so on, then solid-coloured tops are the way to go.  A solid to semi-solid yarn is a timeless choice. Following yarn trends too closely can date your knit piece.

 

What to wear it with

Some tops only have lace at the yokes, and others are more see-through. Then, depending on comfort, we can wear them with our regular bra, a camisole top or even as a quick pull-on over a swimsuit.

 

Fit/ease

If you want a knit that can straddle the line between casual and dressy, I believe the knit top has to be somewhere between bodycon (who wants to wear skin tight knits when it’s hot out?) and extremely drapy. Although I love a summer knit like the boxy, lacy top called Cancun, which has been around since 2015 or so, my argument is that it isn’t as occasion-versatile as I’d like.

And sometimes wearing what you knit is just as simple as knitting what you like and then wearing it with other things that you like. The most important thing is to keep knitting…

 

Foto source: Ravelry.

clockwise. Ladies short Pullover by Tanja Steinbach;   The essential tank top by Laura Zukaite; Drop-Stitch Lace tank top by Stefanie Japel;  Lacy Top by Loren Cherensky