After this past weekend away, I am more engrossed than ever by our relationship with our clothing.
Having the ability to use merely two sticks and a piece of string to create fabric is almost magical.
Fashioning that fabric into a garment is even more so.
We spend hours, weeks, months putting love and care into our hand knits. And more often than not we are willing to accept a finished object that we never wear. The fit may be wrong, the fabric may be wrong, the colors may be not what we expected seeing those lovely hues all jumbled up in the skein…
I wonder if we accept these piles of unworn hand-knit sweaters because so many of our purchased ready-to-wear clothes are never quite right either? Let’s consider the fact that knitting patterns are essentially instructions to make ready-to-wear clothing, designed for a size chart determined by industry standards.
Let’s also consider the fact that most of us have never actually worn a piece of clothing that fits us so well that our body feels “right” in it. A garment with no tugging, no drooping, no falling off the shoulders, no buttons straining at the bust.
I wonder if we don’t consider our hand-knit sweaters as clothing because we don’t think our bodies are good enough to be worth the time and effort to craft something perfectly for it. We get the message every day that our bodies aren’t good enough for our clothes, each time we put on a cute top that doesn’t fit quite right.
(Sweater-in-progress circa 2006. Guess how often I wear it.)
When long-sleeved shirts are designed to a standard measurement chart with an arm length shorter than yours, we tend to say “my arms are too long” not “all the sleeves on every shirt in the world are too short“, right?
I wonder what sort of sweaters we’ll knit when we begin to understand that our bodies are good, just as they are, and that it’s worth spending the time to make clothing for ourselves. That it’s worth understanding where our materials come from, and how they affect the finished garment. That’s it’s worth taking the time for proper finishing, even if it takes an hour or two (or four), because it’s something that we’ll wear for years to come.
(Still working on the finishing bit.)
Even in the last month, now that I know I can consistently achieve a sweater that fits me and that is worth actually wearing, I find myself considering my projects differently.
I find myself evaluating a design based on its potential for clothing, rather than as a knitting challenge. I’m researching my yarns. I’m thinking about my swatches not as a harbinger of gauge counts, but as a test fabric. How will it wear? What sort of sweater does it want to be? Do I actually want to clothe myself in it?
It’s kind of shifted everything for me, in a rather profound way.
How do you feel about your hand-knit sweaters? Do you wear them?
Do you think of them as clothes?