I started writing this post in the run up to Me Made May 2015 which I didn’t sign up to so it has been rolling around in my head of quite some time, but seeing as the first self stitched / me made challenge that I took part in was actually a Self Stitched September, it’s nice to be posting at an anniversary of sorts.
I’d been mulling over Me Made May and whether to sign up and take part or not. I registered my blog on WordPress over 5 years ago and my first self stitched challenge was Self Stitched September 2010. I threw myself into the deep end in that one, pledging to wear all me mades (apart from underwear and sportswear). I wasn’t exactly prepared for that month and spent my time sewing clothes as required for wearing. They say doing something for a month forms a habit and following SSS10 I stopped shopping for clothes. That was just about 5 years ago now and in the intervening period I’ve taken part in Me Made March 2011, Me Made June 2011, Self Stitched September 2011, Me Made May 2013 and Me Made May 2014 (I think the gap in 2012 was due to clashing with exams)… that’s a lot of me made / self stitched challenges and the underlying pledge has always been that I wear all me mades / self stitched apart from underwear and sports wear.
In the lead up to May this year I was questioning how to change this? I didn’t want to scale back from all me mades. It’s a great reminder of what 1 person can do when you notice that you are essentially clothing yourself for a month. I don’t like declarations that I will sew X amount of garments in Y amount of time. And I don’t like the mind set of “I should wear 30 different outfits” over the course of the challenge. In addition to this I replace my clothing as need dictates, not because I’ve set a new pledge, so the previous exemptions made sense to me because I would’ve been making for the sake of the challenge, despite having the same item ready to go but temporarily banned from use.
I think mindfulness is really important in this day and age. The world is so huge and so busy consuming as much as possible and it’s easy to get overwhelmed . I want to live a good life,and by that I mean good to those around me, good to the environment, good to those who are affected by my choices… and it’s important to me that my wardrobe reflects these considerations. Making my own clothes allows me to control that to a certain extent because I can take not only the sweatshop out of the equation, but also the fast fashion element.
Doing another me made challenge wasn’t a good fit for me this year, the habit is already formed and it felt a little bit contrived trying to come up with a way to make it a challenge. However I appreciated how much it made me think about it. I’ve also been thinking a lot about clutter and decluttering my life, more on that anon…
Well this is a very neglected corner of the internet isn’t it?!
Due to my habit of snapping my life on my phone camera I know that I started this shawl on the 16th August 2014 and finished knitting on the 7th of February 2015, so it wasn’t a quick knit!!! The outdoor photos were taken aons ago as well. It turns out I was efficient about blocking and modelling as the photos were only 2 weeks after finishing…
The wool was a souvenir buy from Munich last July, and was really nice to knit with. I think it’s intended as a sock yarn and comes wound around a little spool of matching but lighter weight wool reinforcement yarn which I imagine would be handy not only for darning or repairs but also for seaming (if you had knitted something requiring seams!). I got it in Ludwig Beck beside the Marianplatz (and I made a return trip there again when I was back in Munich a couple of weeks ago).
I love getting wool or fabric as souvenirs, it’s like a gift that keeps on giving… I get to look for and browse in a foreign crafty shop, then I have the joy of making something, followed by the joy of wearing whatever it is I’ve made and every time I pick it up I remember my holiday or trip. In this instance Mark was working in Germany for a month and I went to visit him. We had a wonderful few days exploring Munich together and then I left my purchases with him to be carried home in his checked in luggage. So when he got home I had the additional excitement of opening up my new fabric and yarn!
The shawl pattern is Rockerfeller by Stephen West. I think when it was originally released it was a mystery knit along but you can buy it as a normal PDF download pattern now. I first came across Westknits through Roobeedoo who went to a class with him a while back. Rockerfeller was fun to knit, although it did take me quite some time. The last section is done twice, one wing on either side of the shawl body and seemed to take forever… I was also sure I was going to run out of yarn so I decreased sharper than the pattern calls for, but as you can see it’s a great big size.
I’m away in the UK this weekend, starting in London before heading on out to Bath, so I engineered a little trip to Goldhawk Road into our agenda.
Firstly it’s equal parts overwhelming and exciting to spot the first fabric shop and then realise the they actually line both sides of the street and go further along than a little cluster outside the station. I went with a list (not specifics, just enough to give me something to work towards rather than spacing out and buying randomness) and in the first shop I asked for some prices and some tiny samples. Then we crossed the road and my eyes lost all sense of the list when I came across printed scuba knits and a sort of padded pre-interfaced-quilted fabric I’d never come across before. We wandered in and out of a few more shops before I announced I didn’t want to go to all the shops, much to Mark’s amusement. Then I found denim that I liked, with a small bit of stretch in a weight I’d be happy to use for jeans. This sort of settled me down and we went for lunch. Over the peace & quiet of lunch I mulled over what I had seen and made my decisions so that once we were fed we were able to simply go back to the two shops I had decided to buy stuff in.
I have two tips from my experience;
(1) If you have something in mind, ask! These guys know their stock. The shops can be quite cluttered but they’re happy to point you in the right direction, or even go to the exact spot to show you.
(2) Take a break. At the end of the day I’m super happy with my purchases, but I needed to leave, sit down and eat and think about it. Unless there’s obviously only a tiny bit left on the bolt, its unlikely anything is going to sell out in the time it takes to have lunch and consider potential purchases. Our decision to go get lunch may have been the smartest of the day!
So what did I buy?
2 metres demin for a pair of jeans
2 metres of the padded quilted stuff for a jacket
2 metres of a ribbed light sweater knit for a jumper for Mark
1.5 metres suiting for a dress for work
1.5 metres printed scubaknit for a dress for not at work!
And 1.5 metres of printed chiffony stuff for a flow-y top.
I signed up to a Bespoke Tailored Jacket Making Course at the National Tailoring Academy that started at the beginning of September… this phone snap shows the product of 8 months work. I don’t think I’ve fully wrapped my head around all I’ve learnt in the process but I am pretty damm happy with my finished jacket. More details of techniques and insides to follow.
A while ago I was trying to explain machine knitting to my boyfriend who then got very interested in the idea of progamming something or other to do with a knitting machine… I can’t really remember what, but what did stick in my head is the odd little video that we came across in our lite searching;
What is knitting really?: http://youtu.be/EZRscF-zVz4
Do you ever get stuck on something stupid? For me it’s the thought of making sure my lining is straight and centred on my curtains when using different width fabrics for each. Somewhere along the way I declared 2014 would be the year of the curtain. The year I stop letting my heat sail out my uncovered windows. The year I go back to using my lovely little parlour room in winter and not be on show to the road due to lack of curtains. The year I sew those many metres of fabric I so excitedly chose and make my damn curtains. And here we are, in November and still the only room with curtains is my bedroom.
Until I had a brainwave… my non bedroom curtains don’t need to be lined. D’OH!!!
I joined in with the Follow Your Arrow Mystery Knitalong run by Ysolda back in January and when I was done knitting I discovered the magic of blocking. I’d never properly blocked anything before, it was kind of unnerving stretching my precious knitting out but it led to a spate of blocking…