Thursday, November 16, 2017

In Between

It has been quite some time since the end of #SlowFashionOctober, and I have been busier than a bee with design stuff and the upcoming gift-giving maker event planning, that I have not had an opportunity to update the blog. Well, consider it time right now.

Initially, I want to thank each of the makers who worked up items right alongside me during my Flyings Sticks + The Poncho Escapade a-long. As evidenced from a sampling of the finished pieces, we indeed completed some lovely projects - and ponchos were definitely the item of choice. There was also a lovely mix of neutrals and jewel tones, which made for really outstanding looking finished items. I personally was really thrilled that two makers from the Southern hemisphere were in the maker mix. While almost all of the projects were crocheted (yah!), one person completed a knit project she had been working on for a while - you'll see her lovely orange version of the Coleman Embossed Muffler in the top right corner of the collage. It's worked up in the same yarn as the original sample, Lost City Knits' Twin Canyon Merino/Silk in the pretty penny colorway. It looks fantastic with that jean jacket, doesn't it? One of my Ravelry group moderators completed two versions of the Mixlace Poncho, one of which is in the collage (bottom left collage photo). Those colors look so stunning on her - she's going to gift one of them, and I hope it's not that one.

I completed a second sample of the Mixlace Poncho (seen above at right) in Knit Picks' Chroma Twist Bulky (which happens to be on sale right now, go figure!). I liked the colorways, and it was quite fine worked up, but quite honestly not as soft and cozy as the Lion Brand Scarfie used in the original sample. This second sample became the one photographed for my self-released version of the design, now that my rights have reverted back to me. 

Additionally, I worked up a Quimby Hooded Cover-up for moi, moi, moi. I love how the colors turned out and am super thrilled with the final piece. I am also about 1/2 of a sleeve and trim away from finishing up an Aviatrix Pullover in deep blue. As soon as that gem is done, I will provide photos. I really want to wear it now so, hopefully, very soon.

I must say I am pleased at how October has evolved to become my go-to month for me making. It is a perfect time of the year to spiff up one's wardrobe with handmade things. Well, ok, I suppose that could be every month for me!

And now that we are well into November, I am thrilled to let everyone know that I once again will be a participating designer in the Indie Gift-a-long hosted on Ravelry. Every year for the past five years (yes, it's the GAL's five year anniversary!), independent knit- and crochet-wear designers band together and bring all of their awesome designs to makers who make gifts-a-plenty for those worthy of handmade at the holidays. This will be my fourth year as a participating designer, third as a group moderator. We've been making lists and checking them twice now since the beginning of the month, so that the big participating designer reveal (set for next Tuesday, November 21st, at 8:00 pm EST) will be the best it can. You can check out the Ravelry Indie GAL group (with currently over 7,500 members, and growing!); also check out the GAL's Instagram account, where we have already posted our hashtag challenge prompts throughout the six weeks of gift-making. We've already started the GAL countdown there, too. 

This is my favorite time of the year for a reason, folks. I hope to see each of you there.



Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Slow Fashion October: Finally, Where Do We Feel Best

Initially, let me say that I cannot believe how fast Slow Fashion October has flown. It figures, of course.

This final time in the month is, traditionally, the time when we share resources. It is also, for me, the most dense amount of reading and link clicking and saving and information processing. One of the best resources on how to sort out ways to approach slow fashion in a meaningful way is this Racked article from August, compliments of the Elsewhere feature of this Fringe Association blog post. It was nice to read that beyond the obvious (buy less, recycle/upcycle more, DIY), it focused on industry standards and other environmental impacts (like using public transportation in both personal travel and shipping materials - a big issue with me, a confirmed public transportation user my entire life).

Moving on to the main attraction, however, is where I'm feeling best in sourcing my raw material - the all important yarn. I first did a similar round-up in 2015's Slow Fashion October, and the sometimes fleeting nature of yarn producers will show that some of those mentioned in the past are no longer yarn resources. If one likes to use small, independent yarn producers where the fiber can be sourced from animal to skein, then there's a likelihood of high turnover. Basically, if you like a source, speak up loudly and often so they stay around. Additionally, while Brooklyn Tweed has actually added new yarn lines since 2015 (a great thing!), I am getting, if truth be told, a little bored with the single color approach, as well as the designs. I hope Jared will shake things up in the house - perhaps a foray into crochet? Jared, I'm a stone's throw away. Just sayin'.

Left to right: A Hundred Ravens' Tyche base,
Neighborhood Fiber Co's Studio Chunky,
and Manos Del Uruguay's Silk Blend.
This year, while there is some overlap from 2015, you'll find at least one surprising choice, although I will explain all:

1. A Hundred Ravens - The first half of this past year, I curated/organized/birthed my first global design collection and related maker event (you can read more about it, as well as view the designs, here). That effort put me in contact with my first yarn resource. Female owned, awesome hand-dying, yarn bases made in the U.S.: this is a source that I can absolutely support - and so can a lot of other makers, apparently.

2. Neighborhood Fiber Co. - On my first resource list, Karida & company will remain on my list until the not-so-bitter end. She and I continue our symbiotic relationship with the publication of my Aviatrix Pullover in the 2017 edition of Knitting Traditions Magazine. 

3. Manos Del Uruguay - This non-profit, established to provide rural Uruguayan women with economic and social opportunities, has been producing wonderful yarn for the last over 4 decades. I am not certain why it didn't make my first list, but it's on there now.

Left to right: Garnstudio Drops Merino Extra Fine and
Belle, Lakeside-wolle's merino alpaca sock, and
Sidispinnt's 100% merino single.
4. Garnstudio Drops - This European-based yarn supplier has yarn lines made in the EU, Turkey, and South America (with additional mohair sourced from South Africa). It is high quality, amazingly priced yarn and, on its surface, a yarn source that seems out of place on my list. However, all of their yarn lines produced in the EU and Turkey (with the exception of the kid silk - that darn South African mohair!) are all OEKO-TEX certified. While the certification site is rather dense, basically there are three types of textile certification, and the mentioned Drops yarn lines fall into one of them (and the Drops site notes their OEKO-TEX certification numbers). The value of this yarn (which I've used for a long time), went way up.

5. Lakeside-wolle - This is another small, independent dyer I met during my earlier curated event. She has many wonderful OOAK colorways, and her small batch approach and great customer service made her yarns one of the summer event's favorites. Bonus points come from her ownership of an independent book store.   

6. Sidispinnt - This Swiss-based indie dyer/spinner/weaver is the third new-to-me source from my summer curated event. Not only did Sidi provide some of the deepest yarn support, her yarns were far and away the most popular on social media, selling out of the event's custom colorways almost immediately. She's highly creative and endlessly supportive of her fellow indie dyers. 

I can so easily not only feel good about sourcing yarns from any of the above, but my slow fashion path falls in nicely with each of their respective approaches to their craft. It is a great feeling - and one on which I will end my third Slow Fashion October.

Thanks once again, Karen, for wrangling all of us into a coherent month of awesome social awareness. Until next year ...



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Slow Fashion October Week 3 - The How of it All

My Aviatrix Pullover: starting to look like
something vaguely resembling a sweater.
I am about to tuck into sleeve #2.
Here we are already in week 3 of this slow fashion month - which, to me, seems to be flying past us. This week we're focusing on the how of it all: in terms of skills, thrifting strategies, and wardrobe care, as well as how we carve time for the making.

I am going to start with the last of these things - the time. I make a lot. As I've stated, I enjoy it; nevertheless, I still make a lot. And because I am always in design mode, the making for myself is definitely relegated to last place. Not good, in my estimation. I will state, however, that Octobers and this month-long awareness campaign actually has made me focus and carve out time during this very month for, like, the last three years. That's a great thing, also in my estimation. Balance when estimating is a beautiful thing.

In the middle of all the making this month,
this also became a new design thing.

My wardrobe care is quite something else. I have had extenuating circumstances that has made my wardrobe care take on additional facets, in addition to the normal wear and tear mending. I really don't purchase that many pieces anymore, and now I find myself in need of several basics. For instance, I really only have two pairs of pants for winter, one of which is jeans. I need to rectify that. I also am in desperate need of foundation pieces, including cotton camis in all colors, as I wear them under everything. Because I am trying to source these pieces ethically, I really need to up my source knowledge, and because I have a lack of the aforementioned time, I find myself putting off the task. Then I place undo stress on those pieces I do have by, literally, wearing them into the ground. I have not yet found a happy balance between what I have and what I need because my wardrobe seems to be evolving right before my eyes. I just breathe deeply and take it one day, and piece, at a time.

As for my skills, I just do it. I make. I mend. I learn from the making and the mending. I did learn how to hand sew basic things (read: hems) when I was fairly young, and that knowledge has actually held me in good, albeit grudging, stead. I have a few well-worn knit and crochet technique books that fill in gaps and provide ideas on how I might approach making dilemmas. I don't thrift too much for myself - I have, however, taken to thrifting when styling designs for photography. This has actually turned into a fun activity, and then when the shoot is over, if models want the pieces I've thrifted, they are welcome to them. Everybody comes out ahead. I like that.