Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Fashion Revolution

Right now I'm wearing a hand knitted jumper and socks. I made them both. The yarn from the jumper came from merino sheep in Uruguay, hand dyed and spun by a co-operative of 800 women. 
The sock yarn in BFL - I think spun in either Australia or the UK as we don't have BFL sheep locally, and hand dyed by a friend who lives in another part of my city. 

The jeans I'm wearing are second hand, designed by Grab Denim in Australia and made in China.
The singlet underneath the jumper is by AS Colour, a New Zealand-based basics brand that manufactures in China in ethically accredited factories

Tomorrow is Fashion Revolution Day, marking the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster one year ago, where 1133 factory workers making high-street branded clothing died as the building they were working in collapsed. It's a day for us to think about what we're wearing and where it came from, who made it and in what conditions. It's a day to remind big labels that the people making their garments deserve safe working conditions and fair pay. Those brands are big business - it would be nice to see more of the profits going to the makers who are living and working in difficult environments. 

It's no secret that I love clothes - anyone visiting here recently would've heard about my shopping trips and my current spending ban - but since I started knitting I've become more conscious of  the whole process of clothing production and how much I'm consuming. For one thing - it just took me four months to knit a jumper. That is slow by any standard, let alone fashion's! If I was paid my current salary for the hours that went into making it, I could afford a nice holiday away somewhere (yes, I am that slow!). 

It would have been a lot quicker to just go buy one, but I'd rather make it myself (if I can) than encourage big brands to continue unsustainable practices. The people who make our clothes in factories definitely don't have the luxury of time to spend on the little details. There are high quotas to meet every day to ensure brands get deliveries in time for fashion's crazy turnaround times. 

Knitting has made me much more aware of the skills involved to create clothing, and I really do think clothes should be appreciated for the amazing art forms that they can be. I'm trying to be less disposable   - buying second hand and vintage is something I really enjoy and that's less garments going to landfill. I do regular drop-offs to charity shops with things I'm no longer wearing. 

Yes, there are some things that I can't go without. I'm not going to knit myself some undies. And sometimes you just need a cheap cardigan  or a t-shirt that you don't mind ruining in the mad rush of life. But I'm continually looking for alternatives and will keep doing so until us consumers get more guarantees that our fast fashion brands are doing the best they can for all their staff - including all those manufacturing jobs they outsource.

If you've got a bit of time, check out this interactive doco over on The Guardian, very interesting and eye-opening. And if you want to get involved tomorrow for Fashion Revolution, take a picture of yourself wearing your clothes inside-out, post it on Twitter and Instagram tagged @Fash_Rev and #insideout and with what countries they were made in.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finished objects and what to knit next

I am at a place with my knitting that I haven't been in a very long time. I have nothing on the needles. As I promised myself, I have finished all projects in the early part of my holiday break. The jumper is done, and against all odds, the second Rainbow Sock is also done. These socks, made with Happy Go Knitty's self striping rainbow yarn, have been on the needles for a very long time, something like seven or eight months! For the home stretch (aka Kitchener Stitching the toe) I took myself down to my local cafe for a coffee and a change of scenery. I love my craft room, but sometimes you just need a change in location to get stuff done. 

Now I have the strange luxury and challenge of choosing the next project. A couple of friends have requested hats for the impending winter, so I'll have a hunt through the stash to find suitable yarn for those. But I also want to make more stuff for me. I have lots of ideas, but nothing's quite jumping out at me just yet. For now though, I'll go block those socks.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Amost there - Beaubourg.

Please excuse the towel rail. The bathroom is the only room in the house with a big enough mirror for taking photos in. Ten minutes ago I cast off the neck of my Beaubourg. Finally. I've been working on her for four months. Four months! But I'm very happy with how she's turned out. 

I added an extra four inches to the neck - the six inches in the pattern just didn't seem long enough to me. I picked up the stitches on the neck band instead of knitting the cowl separately and sewing it on - I'm not great at sewing and I like shortcuts if I can afford to take them. I'm even okay with the very noticeable changes between each skein, it kind of gives it an ombre effect. 

Next task for the afternoon - weave in all ends. And block, although this rain won't be conducive for drying things quickly! Only one sock to finish now until I have no more projects on the needles!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Coat. It's okay, she's vintage!

Yes yes, I know. I'm not supposed to be shopping. But something amazing happened this week - I paid off my student loan! There was definitely a nice surprise in my pay this week - a nice chunk extra that I've never had before, so I decided to treat myself with one big winter clothing purchase. 

I found her in Thrifted and Modern's Etsy shop, and it was love at first sight. Firstly, my favourite colour combination. Secondly, 1960s. Thirdly, wool. Fourthly, three quarter sleeves! Before I decided to buy her, I consulted half of my colleagues, husband on numerous occasions, I wrote out a pros and cons list and at the end of the day, I think I made the right decision.

Considering this coat is about 50 years old, I am so impressed with the condition she's in. No loose threads or buttons, no major pilling in the boucle wool, no marks or stains. I wore her to work yesterday to survive the ex-cyclone wind and rain, and she was perfect. I think I might just live in her.

But now I promise to save all equivalent student loan money. I'm done with shopping!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Yes. More stuff for the stash.

So it kind of looks like I've been shopping again this week, but it's only partly true.
The yarn is my Pledgeme order from Red Riding Hood Yarns. I think I ordered it in September, and the lovely Hannah has had so much to dye along with all her day-to-day yarn that I was extremely excited to unwrap these two beautiful skeins this week. Totally worth the wait!

The lovely teal is Song of the Tui in Dame DK - a merino, cashmere and nylon blend.
The purple is called Lavandula, in the same base.
I'm thinking this special yarn needs to be knitted into something to be seen by all - maybe a hat or mittens?

Okay, I did go shopping for the fabric. Nick's Fabrics on Dominion Road is moving (bad news, but good news for my bank balance) so they're having a sale. Last week I mentioned I was planning on getting another dress made from fabric that was used as table-clothes at our wedding, but there is a very good chance that the fabric is way too light for the style of dress we're making. So I got this. And since they are moving, it was on sale! 3.5m for $12! Totally doesn't count!

And you all must forgive me for this little plug.

This week my lovely sister-in-law launched an online cruelty-free make-up and beauty shop.
She Lives Cruelty Free has amazing products, and yes, I've already been shopping there. I'm waiting for payday to buy more! They guarantee that the products they stock have in no way been tested on animals, and if you're conscious of these things when shopping, check it out!

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's time for a wardrobe cull. And a shopping ban.

Today I was bad. Actually, it's not just today. I've been bad for the past few weeks. It all started with a friend's wedding. I needed a dress to wear. Some of you who've been reading for a while are well aware of my lack of self control for vintage or vintage style dresses. I pretty much have none. I got a dress made for the wedding from a vintage pattern with vintage fabric, thanks to the lovely Mintage. While I was getting that all measured up, there was another amazing dress on the mannequin that just needed a few adjustments, so I got that too.

The day before the wedding, I was packing my weekend bag and discovered my favourite skirt was MIA. Nowhere to be found. It's not often you find the perfect skirt that can be a bit casual or a bit dressy - this one was it. Purchased in a fancy secondhand shop, local designer but many seasons old, this skirt was the one skirt I would keep if I had to only keep one from my entire wardrobe.

Devastated, I started filling the void. A skirt and a dress from a shop near work. A skirt and a top - both bargains, if I must say so, from Trademe. Another two dresses from vintage and second hand shops.

It's getting a tad out of hand. Then I went back to my dress lady to adjust a strap on one of the dresses I'd ordered, and I ordered another one. I'm hoping to offset this somehow by making it with the tablecloth fabric from our wedding, if it's suitable.

So that brings me to Saturday afternoon. I found the skirt. She was tucked into another skirt in my skirt drawer, in the same place I thought she was. I was ecstatic. So excited that I went on Etsy and browsed for winter coats, because eventually this summer will end and I need to keep warm. And then I saw her.  A 1960s swing coat, cut above the knee, royal blue with ivory stripes from the waist down. I literally had dreams about her two nights in a row. Today I bought her. And today I vowed to do a clothes cull.

Just look at the dress collection. That's not even half of the stack in my wardrobe. And I'm happy that a good chunk of them are vintage, second hand or hand made (half of my wardrobe at any one time needs to be one of those three things - better for the planet and it makes me feel better about buying so much). But after my most recent shopping spree, a cull needs to happen. So this week, I'm going through this wardrobe with a fine-tooth comb and taking the really good stuff to one of the fancy second hand shops that buys clothes, and the other stuff will be donated. Any money I make will go a way to paying back that coat.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Daylight saving = craft Sunday.

It still doesn't seem like summer will ever really end this year. There's a little chill in the air in the mornings, but by lunch the sunblock is out and knitting is the last thing on my mind. We're getting a step closer to winter though - daylight saving ended this morning. Loved the extra hour of sleep, but very confused when it was dark by 7pm. The shorter days do mean the start of a new tradition though - Craft Sunday. 

I got to work on my sweater - side seams are all done now, while one of my crafty friends got creative with a blanket cushion - this one's going to be a gorilla!

I'm hoping this becomes a regular autumn / winter tradition - what else to do with the shorter days than do craft and drink tea?