Slow Fashion October and BreedSwatchalong

So, my first blogpost… and it got rather long, sorry for this! I started the blog to have a place to try writing about my knitting, to see if that is fun and if it brings some structure into my wooly endeavours. The plan was to start really slow, perhaps with some FOs, freshly bought yarn, or similar simple things. But then two very exciting things were announced in the interweb – Karen Templer’s clever Slow Fashion October at Fringeassociation and Louise Scollay’s BreedSwatchalong at KnitBritish. Two undertakings that are at the core of the route my knitting journey has been taken lately. So I knew I had to dive right into knitting, thinking, and talking.

I have been knitting for all my adult life (and most of my teenage life as well – though thank heavens all my 80s-styled knits have somehow vanished, like that pink cabled pullover in aran weight acrylic yarn without any waist shaping, or the bright baby-blue hood-scarf with fake fur edgings. Urgh.) Parallel to becoming more conscious about where my food comes from, where it is produced by whom and under what conditions, I started to think about my yarn and my clothes in a similar way. I care about the impact my actions have on people and animals that provide me with food and clothing, and on the environment as a whole. I don’t want to wear clothes that were produced by someone who can’t make a living by their work and/or risk their health or life in this work. And I don’t want to knit with wool that comes from the other end of the planet, from sheep who have been mishandled as a price of producing ever more fleece, the wool then being shipped around several times to be washed, processed, dyed and packed at places where wages, working laws and environmental standards for each of these are as low as possible to produce yarn that is as soft and cheap as possible.

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WIP: Garment knitting for small people with Merino wool from sheep that live in Arles, France. (Gramps, knit with Pur Mérinos Français)

Slow Fashion October

Reflection number one means that I have been thinking about how to change my buying and making habits. Slow Fashion October is a wonderful opportunity to lend some structure to my otherwise rather erratic thoughts about this topic. And hopefully it will also inspire not only thoughts, but starting some action around here! Usually that’s the hard bit for me – put an end to the process of thinking and musing and start DOING something. So I will stick to Karen’s suggestions for the topics of the next weeks and see what comes out. Given my tendency to over-think things, I am just now thinking it might be a good idea to commit to MAKING (or to start making) one concrete item during this month. This might be sewing a garment, mending an old cardigan or anything else that comes up. I am so exited to focus on this and to read what everyone else will be coming up with!

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Plans for my handmade wordrobe: I need more socks!

BreedSwatchalong

Reflection number two plays right into Louise’s plans for the BreedSwatchalong. Trying out local wool is a great starting point to actually use these yarns for future garments, and the fact that a whole bunch of people is joining in will provide us with great insights into various sheep breeds. Since I am living in central Europe where it is waaayy harder to get locally produced wool (let alone breed specific!), I am planning to do both KnitBritish and  KnitLocal swatching – the KnitBritish will be easy to start with and will give me something to actually KNIT. I have some balls of Nude Ewe Manx and Shel that I bought last year at Fibre East, and I have ordered some more, so there is something to start right away. For the KnitLocal I have started with some very basic research. I have indeed found a handful of Austrian wool producers, now I have to find out where their wool is actually coming from. I am rather certain that it won’t be breed specific, but I might try it out anyway. It’s all about exploring our local wool, isn’t it? Anyway, I will not post these in the BreedSwatchalong threads on Ravelry but simply write about them here on the blog and on my Ravelry project pages. But I plan to still test drive them according to Louise’s suggestions to keep them comparable. Like some of the participants I am thinking of sewing my swatches into a blanket in the end; this will be a lovely and warm representative of different sheep breeds. I am SO glad this swatchalong doesn’t have a deadline, otherwise I would start to feel slightly overwhelmed by my plans!

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Slippers from Shel for me.

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Slippers from Manx for my boyfriend.

So, thank you so much, Karen and Louise, for starting these two great initiatives! I am looking very much forward to a month full of mindful knitting and conversation. I hope to blog regularly about my progress, though October will be quite busy at work as well. But there will always be weekends 🙂

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