Thursday, October 15, 2015

(un)LOVED and (un)WORN: working with what I have.

Have you seen this? I came across this a few weeks ago and it was that moment when someone takes all the things that swim around in my mind and makes a really simple graphic of it and I realize that nothing I think about is very complicated at all. ::insert laughing emoji::

Do you need to hang this over your workspace? You can.

When I think about Slow Fashion October, I think buying small and making intentionally. I think of quality materials and wearing things for a long time and finding A Look that can work for me for a long time, so I am not constantly having to "update it". I also realize that it is really easy for me to turn this into an excuse to buy new clothes, buy new yarn, buy new fabric.

Have you seen Georgetown by Hannah Fetting? I need it. Have you seen this new tunic from Samantha Lamb? I need it. And oh! I just remembered SewLiberated... the Clara Dress... the Schoolhouse Tunic... all classic shapes that look good on me that are also nursing-friendly. Yes, yes, I need them all. Quickly. Now, even. Can I knit and sew them fast enough that I won't grow bored with them when the next new pattern book comes out? Oh, consumerism. You insidious beast.

It seems that I need to mash up Slow Fashion October with Stashless. They are sister-ideas, are they not? (and I know I have already mentioned the Woolful podcast where these two come together in one glorious podcast).

The thing is, I have noticed that, as I learn more about the impact of the fashion/clothing industry (<-- a great intro to this topic), my tastes change. Much in the same way my tastes changed when I learned that a tomato fresh off my neighbor's vine in August will taste way better than the one wrapped in plastic in my grocery store in February, my taste for material has been changing. The squooshy, slippery, bright superwash yarn I used to pet longingly just doesn't catch my eye in the same way, likewise for fabrics. I think ultimately, this is a good thing because I am less tempted by the walls of fabric at Jo-Ann's when I go to buy thread, in the same way that I am not particularly tempted by the clothing section at Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, it also means that the small stash of craft supplies that I have accumulated over the past 10 years falls a little short of inspiring me also. It's not just that the materials aren't what I would maybe pick now- I can still appreciate the beauty in a skein of Madelinetosh yarn, it's more that, as I think more about what I am willing to spend money on, I am starting to understand the difference between the things I like and the things that fit me (physically and in terms of my style). Shopping has always been hard for me because, once in the store, with all the well-dressed mannequins in front of me, I have trouble deciphering between what things I actually like for me, and what things I can appreciate as being presented well to me (that's what marketing is supposed to do- right?). Thanks to many people who give structure to the way one might think about these things, I am getting better at parsing these things out. I am also seeing that a lot of my stash is actually things that I just like or things that were a good deal, not things that really fit me.

My Taos Cardigan: something that seems like it should work, but doesn't quite. Maybe because my boobs outgrew it.

I am thinking of a few different ways to clear out my stash in the coming months, and one of those things is to figure out how to turn things that aren't me into things that are.

I think you see where I am going with this

Enter: natural dyeing.

Black walnuts sitting in water for a few days before putting them in the dye pot.

I know, everyone is doing it these days, and I sure am glad for that because it just isn't my thing. I WANT to love natural dyeing. I love plants and yarn, so why wouldn't I love taking plants and dyeing yarn with them? I think I am too much of a control freak. The idea of taking something known and voluntarily throwing it into a pot of unknown... some people call that magic, but I call it TERRIFYING. What if I hate it? What if it's unsalvageable? What if I took something perfectly fine and ruin it? BUT, the land we live on is littered with black walnuts, and I have 2 skeins of perfectly good undyed fingering weight yarn and it IS Slow Fashion October after all.... I challenged myself to try something new.

I simmered the walnuts, in their hulls, in the water for 30 minutes or so, strained the dye bath and added yarn to lukewarm water before slowly reheating it.

And while I was cooking up this dye bath, I came across this old sweater of mine. The yarn is some Debbie Bliss something that I found on megaclearance and I SWEAR in the store, it was brown. I don't know what Deal-Induced-Delusion I was under, or if the lighting in that store was really THAT bad, because this yarn is clearly, decidedly, aggressively PINK, which I quickly discovered upon taking it home. Unreturnable, and determined to salvage this purchase, I knit it into a Sibella Pullover, something sweet and feminine that could handle the pink. And it did! But, it didn't fit and I was not savvy enough of a knitter to know how to alter it to make it fit. So, I took on my first gauge modification and made it a Tea Leaves. I forced myself to wear it a few times, but... oh, it is so pink.

No, really, it was brown in the store

So, with just a little wincing and breath-holding, into the dye bath it went.

Guess what? Natural dyeing IS magic.

Fresh out of the rinse bath and onto the line to dry
 I had originally set into this thinking I would try to get a specific color, a rosy tan, perhaps. But, I realized that, if I didn't want to be disappointed in my first dye project, I should probably approach this with a curious heart. I should see what the thing the land was offering me had... to offer! Turns out, a lot.
Hosea is also impressed


I'm quite pleased with the results and I actually spent the whole day giddy about it. I took some things I didn't like and turned them into things I like better! I salvaged some of my stash!

Sweater post-die bath shown with a bonnet I knit in the same yarn, for contrast

sweater and bonnet again. the sweater is a darker brown than this washed out photo shoes.

Funny thing about the sweater: it turned out pretty much exactly the color I thought I was buying in the first place. Definitely brown, but a warm, pinky brown. A brown with a blush. And I'm quite sure it doesn't want to be this cardigan anymore. I applaud my first attempt at altering a pattern to fit my gauge, but there are a lot of things about it that make it one of the less likely things I will grab. I will frog it and it will become something more... fitting. The current top contender? A Sibella. Oh, how funny.

All The Brown (also pictured: some formerly white woolens I threw in at the last minute because, really, toddlers in white? I don't think so).

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