Why I’m Not Participating in Slow Fashion October

Why I'm Not Participating in Slow Fashion October | knittedbliss.com

I have mixed feelings about slow fashion October. I absolutely love that Karen is making sure to remind people that it isn’t about judgement and that it’s all about taking a more considered approach to what we buy and wear. Especially since many of us reading it are crafters who have the skills to create items for our wardrobes. I’ve loved the posts written by friends out in the knitting world about beloved items they have treasured, things they were so proud to make, and what they have accomplished by upping their crafting skills to produce beautiful, wearable garments.

It feels like the cool girl club, SFO. Even though it isn’t marketed as such- and there are loads of really insightful comments that I totally agree with in the link above, where Karen lays out the scope of SFO that is meant to be very inclusive and non judgmental. But I don’t see that inclusivity reflected back. 

This isn’t a critique on Karen. I think she is awesome and I love seeing women crushing it out there. I have a lot of time for women doing the things they love and making it work. It’s just almost inevitable, when you start a movement – and slow fashion October is indeed a movement – that not everyone is going to be included. It’s hard to have a movement that fits everybody. And if there’s a group of people that knows one size does not fit all, it’s those making their own garments. 

 

A lot of important conversations are happening about where wool comes from, about the practices, breed varieties, and these are all really good conversations to have. I love wool – wool that feels like it’s barely off the sheep and still has bits of straw in it. I can even wear it up against my throat, it doesn’t bother me. Wool has never felt scratchy to me. But my tremendous love of wool, of supporting small batch yarn, local farms when possible, and (when I’m in England) local UK yarns; doesn’t preclude plant fibers, or blends of man made fibers. There’s room in my knitting world for all sorts of yarn. Big brands, indie brands, no brand at all. I like to mix it up. 

There’s something to be said for checking in on craft store yarn from time to time. It is ground zero for where the majority of knitters buy their first yarn. For those in lower income brackets, it’s where they are still buying their yarn. While it’s important to consider where our yarn is made, and what it’s made from, it’s also important to remember that these aren’t considerations that everyone can afford. 

So I thought for slow fashion October, I’d go the other way with it- what are the big brands putting out these days? What yarns are hanging out in the aisles to entice occasional knitters, or new knitters? I’m rebellious that way. If there’s a bandwagon, I’m heading in the other direction.

May I present the opposite of Slow Fashion October (although I suppose maybe I am participating in Slow Fashion October? Can you be unintentionally participating?) … a totally experimental crescent shaped shawl I knit with a single skein of Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball that has no animal fiber in it whatsoever, and even has (gasp!) acrylic. This is the Calming Desert Colourway:

Why I'm Not Participating in Slow Fashion October | knittedbliss.com
There’s no pattern, I was experimenting with the yarn and wanted to see what it looks like as a simple, stockinette crescent with a bit of ribbing at the hem. I increased a bit too much though, and ended up with a C shape shawl, but that’s okay. The yarn is extremely lightweight and is comprised of 58% cotton, 39% acrylic, and 3% polymide (the website says ‘other’, but I emailed and asked. Knitters everywhere are so helpful!). I love the flecks of white throughout. 

Why I'm Not Participating in Slow Fashion October | knittedbliss.com

It’s pretty, soft, lightweight, and I really enjoyed knitting it. I imagine I’ll get a lot of wear from it, even though I needed a shark like I needed a hole in the head. It’s a single skein project and the skein costs $9.99 US ($12 CAN). It’s never been anywhere near a sheep, and that’s okay. If you are allergic to wool, on a tight budget but need to get your craft on, or want to knit something pretty for a friend who is addicted to their tumble dryer, then this yarn is for you, my friends. You can probably get it at any big craft store. Or online.

Why I'm Not Participating in Slow Fashion October | knittedbliss.com

You are still a knitter if you can’t afford the small batch artisan wool photographed on the reclaimed barn wood planks (does everyone else out there have a reclaimed barn or a perfectly weathered wooden patio for their photos except me?). If you buy your yarn from Knit Picks, Lion Brand, Rowan, or Berroco. If the cost of your hand knit sweater was only $40. There’s room at my lunch table for knitters who can’t afford the $25 skeins of yarn, or are only able to knit with them sometimes. That’s okay. I’m not a yarn snob. You can totally sit at my lunch table. Here’s a chair. 

  The ideas behind slow fashion are relevant all year long, and I hope that slow fashion October brings about more awareness for all of us on the choices we make when we buy. But as Karen always says, slow fashion isn’t about wearing our judgey pants. I might be loosely paraphrasing. But you get the gist. 

(disclaimer: this is only one facet of a huge conversation that has a lot of overlapping points of contact. I could also write a post about all the reasons you shouldn’t knit with acrylic, or why we need to only use small batch rare breed sheep wool, or why we need to support fast fashion but pester big brands for more accountability on their supply chain, etc. Also, I’m totally knitting with a small batch local yarn on one of my current knits in progress. Not sure if that makes me a hypocrite or a yarn omnivore.) 

p.s. Wonderfully wise words about knitting with wool when you are starting out from Clara Parkes, and the so-darn-smart-and-awesome-I-totally-want-to-be-her-friend designer Bristol Ivy talking about the privilege that needs to be remembered during SFO

Oh, and p.p.s – here’s a hilarious boomerang Guy took of me doing the salmon while wearing this shawl

 

115 comments

  1. Diane Cooper   •  

    Great insight Julie! I had never heard of SFO before reading it someones blog a few days go, and I felt a bit of the same as you.
    I am a relatively new knitter (about 2 years), so I am at a point where my stash is starting to change or at least get quite varied- I still have a ton of Michaels cheap stuff, as well as a budding stash of some of the nicer stuff! I am fortunate that I can afford to buy some of it, and in some cases it is so nice to knit with this small batch yarns.
    However I have to say that even the cheap stuff is getting nicer to work with as well!!!
    I just bought a Caron Cake at Micheals and it is quite soft and nice to work with (and inexpensive!)
    Thanks as always Julie for your insight!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Diane! I was very nervous putting this out there, but I was having several email conversations with other knitters who were saying the same sort of things, so I figured it was worth putting out an a slightly different view of SFO. Glad that you are finding that you enjoy both higher end and ‘lower’ end yarns, you are a yarn omnivore just like me!

  2. Holly Priestley   •  

    Yarn Omnivore! I love it. And I love this post. I feel the same way about SFO – I like it and I don’t like, I’ve never been in any Cool Club but I do knit. And I knit with cheap, big box store yarn and with local, small maker yarn and I’ve even got WIPs using some of each right this minute. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Julie   •     Author

      You are a Yarn Omnivore, too! I’m glad that I’m not the only one with mixed feelings on SFO, I like it and don’t like it as well. I definitely agree with all the fundamentals that Karen puts out there. and I love seeing the blog and Instagram posts from those participating. I’ve read about a lot of other people struggling with the concept in some areas of their lives, and it’s worth sorting out what we are aspiring to (which is different for everyone) before ascribing to a movement.

  3. Bonnie Jackson   •  

    I love your post today. It’s so right on so many levels. Knitting has another purpose other than making wonderful stunning hats or gloves or sweaters. It is meant to be Blissful. xxoo This means a lot to me today that you have posted this.

    • Julie   •     Author

      I can’t tell you how much it means to me that others have been feeling the same way that I have! It reminds me of that old knitting conversation about product knitters versus process knitters. Both camps have their value.

  4. Cindy   •  

    I really have to agree with you here. Knitting is about the creating, and if you cannot afford high end yarns, that doesn’t make you any less of a maker. Responsibility and ethical sourcing is great, and I’d love to see all yarn companies doing this, but realistically there is an affordability factor for many people. Even being a middle income earning family, with a daughter in university, I’m not going to be buying a sweaters quantity of Manos or Rowan or Erika Knight yarn anytime soon…and in fact I never have. I use those for luxury accessories. Sorry I cannot afford $200 for materials for a sweater no matter how much I like the yarn.

    I admit, my mother always taught me that if it’s worth putting in the effort then use decent materials. But at the same time, decent materials might mean a good quality acrylic if that’s what suits the project and budget. The first sweater I made was from acrylic but it was a nice acrylic (not plastic-y or squeaky) and knit up beautifully and wore really well. She didn’t go out and buy me the cheapest stuff available either, but for a teenage girl embarking on a sweater, who had never been able to finish a scarf (to this day scarves bore me to tears), it would not have been in my parents best interest to buy me a very expensive wool either. I loved that sweater and wore it all through high school and beyond. And lets face it, lots of new moms aren’t going to want to use a sweater made from a hand wash yarn or one that is so expensive they are afraid to use it, so the use may dictate an acrylic or less pricey option.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Cindy! You hit the nail on the head, about who can and can’t afford to spend $200 or more on a sweater’s worth of yarn, and how no one should feel badly about that. Sounds like your mom has passed on some very sensible lessons about knitting and materials, and how amazing that you loved your first sweater and wore it so much!! I was just washing some knitted pants I made for James, and while they are knit in superwash merino, the combination of his crawling and my machine washing means they are pretty fuzzy these days.

  5. DWJ   •  

    Can I say I’m so happy you wrote this post? I too love Karen and the community she has created but I do feel left out of the SFO movement. I buy ALL THE YARN from everywhere because there are times I can afford a sweater’s quantity of an indie yarn and then there are times when an acrylic based yarn is what’s best for what I’m working on. And I’ve been yarn shamed before and it kind of hurt my feelings! I’ve only been knitting for 5 years and my stash is always evolving. But it’s nice to know there are some odd men out that aren’t participating in SFO either.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Oh my gosh, I’m so mad at whomever yarn shamed you, that’s terrible!!! That’s exactly the kind of thing I mean. There should never be any yarn shaming anywhere. I love that there is so much variety in yarn these days, it’s incredible to be able to knit with yak down and milk proteins and bamboo and whatever else they are figuring out how to turn into yarn, and while I will always love wool, it isn’t the only game in town. There’s more to knitting than a sheep’s pedigree.

      P.S- you’ve only been knitting for 5 years? Your sweaters are amazing!!

      • DWJ   •  

        HA! Yes, I’ve only been knitting for 5 years. I always wanted to learn how to knit but never knew anyone would could knit. So finally a few years ago I took lessons and then it was like something in me just clicked. I fell in love with knitting and yarn and everything about it 🙂

  6. Karen   •  

    Well as you said so well p, SFO has a good message but not if it is carried to the extreme. I think about my daughter who has a demanding career, two sons and a wool allergy. Time and money are big issues; and let’s not add to the guilt load of working,out side the home, mothers more than we already have. In addition, the apparel industry is a job source for many people through out the world. Agree we can pressure companies to ensure good working conditions and salaries but let’s not put people out of work either. And, is it hypocritical to worship at the alter of high fashion and advertising without considering those industries impact on women’s self image and personal budgets? I appreciate your contribution to this not so simple idea.

    • Julie   •     Author

      You are so right, this is not a simple idea at all! And I appreciate you raising the point of how the apparel industry is a source of income all over the world, because as crazy as it seems, one of the benefits of clothes from Joe Fresh or target or wherever is that those factories in Bangladesh often employ girls and women. The hours are insane, the pay is terrible, but for that part of the world, it is often better than the alternative, which is often marrying off girls to be child brides to reduce the number of mouths to feed in a family. I absolutely want better lives for those girls, I want them to go to school and have childhoods (I sponsor a girl through Plan Canada, and the food, and medical care her and her family receives is tied to her going to school), but like almost everything in the world, it isn’t as simple as shutting down the factories. And then your point about high fashion imagery and advertising and how it impacts women’s self esteem in a way that tries to manipulate us to spend more in order to ‘look better’….. sigh.

  7. Bronwyn   •  

    Oh I love you for this. I’ve swung between both ends of the spectrum and am finally settling in somewhere in the middle and trying to be better. When I first really started knitting I worked at Joann and bought what we sold, so lots of Lion Brand and Caron and some others when I could. When I became a “more grown up” knitter, I only bought from LYSs and tried to stay away from acrylic. Now I use whatever I can/want. I have socks out of madelinetosh from an LYS, Lemonade Shop from Etsy, and still a lot of socks out of yarn from Joann or Michaels. I have sweaters I’ve made out of acrylic and wool, out of yarn bought from Manos and from Loops & Threads (Michaels house brand). Sure, I like the nicer yarns and the wools, but the acrylic sweater I made from some Knit Picks is the hardest wearing sweater I’ve made, and the nice lush wool one has already had to be mended and needs a good depilling. One of my best friends, my best knitting friend, only buys from Hobby Lobby because that’s what’s near her; there aren’t any LYSs and honestly, her money wouldn’t go as far, so why not just go to the box store? I get yarn envy at times, but remember I don’t always need a $20(+) pair of socks (supplies only, too!). Generally I like Knit Picks because they have a bit better than Joann might have, but not as expensive as Manos or Malabrigo or whoever, and they have something at pretty much all price points.

    Thank you for contributing to this conversation in this way! I love your Lion Brand shawl, and if I didn’t know it was Lion Brand, I wouldn’t know, if that makes sense. 🙂

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thank you so much for sharing your knitting story, and you have definitely tried all sorts of yarn! The whole point of acrylic was to create harder wearing knits that would last longer, so it does exactly that (also moths can’t digest the fibers, so it’s moth proof). And the whole reason sock yarn has that 20% nylon (also a man made fiber) is for durability, otherwise you can’t really wear your handmade socks and go hiking. I hear you about yarn envy, I want to knit with ALL THE YARN I see, but there aren’t enough hours in the day, even if I did have all the money in the world for it. And I totally have more Lion brand in my house somewhere. I was impressed when I recently cruised the craft store and saw how far a lot of brands have come. There’s good materials to be had in Joannes and Michaels.

  8. Billie Parrott   •  

    Thanks for that. For the last week I’ve been wondering if they all bought some sort of vinyl sheet with a photo of barn wood for their pictures. And I’ve passed over that Lion Brand shawl in a ball because I think I need to be a yarn snob. I cannot really afford to be a yarn snob all the time and they had some colors I really liked. But I moved past it assuring myself that it wasn’t worth my time. I think I’ll go back and look again.
    And I’m also going back to Knit Picks and look at that yarn that has some cashmere in it.
    Great post.

    • Julie   •     Author

      I had such a laugh when you said about the vinyl sheet of the barn wood! I need to get one of those. 😉 Your Lion Brand story is totally why I felt like I should write about this, because I don’t think anyone should feel badly about choosing a yarn they might love because people are proud of the term yarn snob. You should knit with whatever you like, as long as you enjoy it!

  9. felinityknits   •  

    Lovely thoughtful post, thank you. And (not to undermine all the sense and interest in the main gist of your post) EXTRA thank you for the boomerang which really made me laugh.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Haha, that boomerang shows one of the things we do when we take photos, Guy will have me act silly for a bit, because once you act silly out on the street, you relax enough to get some decent photos. otherwise I tend to hold my face in weird positions. As in, ‘ is THIS how you smile?’ like I just beamed down from another planet.

  10. Melissa   •  

    An excellent middle-position; and thanks for the reminder about SFO–it’s an interesting proposition. It’s unfortunate that yarn and spinning tools can be expensive. They don’t have to be. I love any DIY I can find. But I am a sucker for the finer wools of this world. If you have the resources, fleece to shawl can be a less expensive option, but super time consuming (which is why so many of us love the process, right?) As for the lunch table: I agree that there is room for all. Crafting brings us together as a community; yarn? well, yarn is one of the mediums.

    • Julie   •     Author

      So true that DIYing and fleece to shawl are great options! I am terrified of spinning, because if I get obsessed with any other thing I’m going to have to give up sleeping in order to do it all. And high fives that there is room for all of us at the lunch table!

  11. Arianne   •  

    Love this post. Because there is room for all of it. I love wool. I love supporting farmers. But I’m also on a budget. I’m a huge fan of knitting with yarn I can find second hand, whatever the content. If I found It at a yard sale or thrift store, I feel great about using any fiber i find that I like.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Secondhand yarn is a great point, and doubly so for being the more environmental choice as well as cost effective! I knit my Stockholm scarf out of yarn my mom picked up at a church bazaar penny table, and was amazing. That’s so clever, and a good reminder for the rest of us.

  12. Tanis   •  

    I loved reading your thoughts on this. At the end of the day I think that the focus of Slow Fashion October is mindfulness. It’s not just about where the yarn/clothes were made, but also (possibly more importantly) what we do with the them once we own them. The disposable attitude towards clothes is a big problem and I think that’s the biggest takeaway from SFO for me. The cool girls who will only knit with wool if they’ve personally shaken hands with the sheep it’s from are missing the point in my opinion. Karen is doing a good job of constantly reminding us of this, but it’s definitely taken on a life of it’s own in certain groups.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Love your points on this, I completely agree that it probably is more important what we do with things once we own them. I hardly ever shop for myself anymore, because most of the time I feel like I really have everything I need. I will say this for the cool girls who only knit with wool from sheep they know- I bet they can keep their stash under control, which is more than I can say for myself!

  13. Jennifer   •  

    I love you for this, too. Very courageous to put it out there, and very true. I love the SFO movement, but I don’t participate, either. And the reason I don’t is because I don’t sew, other than sewing buttons on and fixing hems. My Mom is an awesome seamstress, who can sit down and whip out a fitted blouse just like *that* … and, well. She tried to teach me to sew, but it never took and it’s always been such a lesson in frustration that I’ve given up trying. For now, anyway. So, because of the lack of hand sewn items in my wardrobe, I’ve felt like SFO wasn’t for me. You’re right that even though it’s not meant to be exclusive, it doesn’t always feel *inclusive,* either. I enjoy it from the sidelines, and I’m always so impressed with the beautiful, handmade, sewn / knit / woven wardrobes that show up in other feeds.

    • Julie   •     Author

      OMG, I was terrified to post this! I have had some sidebar chats with other knitter who had echoed my sentiments, but it’s one thing to say things privately, it’s another to put it out there. I agree that sewing does seem to have a big part of SFO, no doubt because I’m pretty sure you can whip up garments much faster, and of course wearing wool pants isn’t always comfortable or appropriate. I can sew, but I don’t enjoy it, so I hardly ever do it. Probably once every couple of years I grudgingly pull out my machine, and I’m always amazed I still remember how to work it. Last time was to hem a big piece of double gauze cotton to make a lightweight beach blanket/stroller blanket/airplane blanket for our trip to UK and Spain.

  14. Natasha   •  

    Thank you so much for discussing this! While SFO is, in my opinion, an important movement, the topic of social privilege, race, class, and income availability within the movement is equally as important as discussing where and how our materials are sourced, the environmental and social implications of our need for fashion, and the imperative to fairly compensate the suppliers of our materials, and I just haven’t seen that conversation taking place as much as I think it needs to. So thank you again for putting this into words for those of us who couldn’t quite do it as eloquently and coherently [raises own hand].

    • Julie   •     Author

      I agree that slow fashion coming to the craft world is indeed an important step, you are exactly right that there are a lot of parallel conversations related to this that need to happen, but sadly I don’t often see them on the round ups! But I absolutely love seeing so many thoughtful posts about people talking about their craft and their beloved garments, things they have loved and treasured for years. It’s fantastic. And I’m glad that so many are not offended by what I’ve written to contribute to that conversation, as there are so many things that need to be discussed along with SFO.

  15. Sam   •  

    Thank you so much for this post Julie. I’m not sure it spoke to me in the way you intended, but it did speak to me!

    I love knitting, but often feel like I’m not a “proper” knitter because I don’t like knitting with expensive and exclusive artisan yarns, for a couple of reasons. One, I can’t wear wool – it itches and drives me completely mad. Today I’m wearing a store bought sweater with only 8% wool and I can even feel that! Secondly, I absolutely detest handwashing and reblocking sweaters once they’ve been knitted. I’ve learned through experience that if it doesn’t go in the washing machine, then it doesn’t get worn – be it a handknit sweater or a silk blouse!

    I admire people who do use these lovely yarns, and often wish that I could. Thank you for making me feel like I’m a proper knitter even though I don’t use them myself.

    • Julie   •     Author

      That is awesome, high fives! You are totally a proper knitter, no matter what the fiber content is of your yarn. I know a lot of people that can’t wear wool at all, no matter how it’s spun or blended. That you enjoy it and enjoy the results is what really matters.

  16. Barb   •  

    You hit the nail directly on the head! I love this.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Barb! I”m so glad that you are in support of this post. I was nervous to write it!

  17. Laura   •  

    I admit that I haven’t been following SFO super closely. I think the most important thing I have taken away from it is to look at clothing with intention. Whether you make or purchase clothing, do it with some thought and intention as much as possible. The interesting part is that this thought and intention looks different for each person and depends on so many variables. Perhaps that’s what ends up making it feel like a cool kids club.
    Bristol Ivy’s thoughts on privilege in the crafting world are so on point.

    • Julie   •     Author

      So true, the intention and being mindful of purchases is a huge part of SFO. For a long time, mainly from a budget perspective, I’ve been looking at any potential purchases as cost per wear. So I’m less likely to spend money on a fancy dress I’ll wear to only 1 or 2 weddings, but will definitely splash out for a coat that I wear 5 months of the year that keeps me warm, dry, and feeling stylish. Also, I live in a condo- there’s no room for surplus of anything! I’m already overrun with kid toys…. what I need is Slow Toy December, to somehow stem the tide of toys that will continue to wash in with the upcoming holidays…

      • Tanis   •  

        Amen to Slow Toy December!!! Nailed it.

  18. Katie   •  

    Yes, Julie! Thank you for writing this. I love the intention behind SFO, and I do wish I had the time, funds, etc, to make every single piece I knit an heirloom – but then who would wear them?! (Certainly not anyone with kids.) Hence my addiction to Knit Picks, as most sweater-appropriate yarn is hard to come by in Southern California. And the shawl is lovely. 😀

    • Julie   •     Author

      Yeah, I try not to wear any aran or chunky hand knit sweaters when I’m holding the baby, because hand washing chunky sweaters is such a pain and they take forever to dry. And my left shoulder is pretty much perpetually covered in what I hope is just baby food! I think SFO is a great idea, but let’s not leave out the reasons why knitters might choose to work with widely available, commercial yarns. It’s important not to make anyone feel badly about the yarn they can or can’t afford. Hearing stories of yarn shaming just makes me shake my head. Like women don’t already judge themselves and each other already.

  19. RuthAnn   •  

    Thank you for your post…balance to the value of SFO. I want to be mindful of the source of the products I buy, use, and eat. But part of the equation is longevity. And life is full of trade-offs. So, to me, using something for a long time is a trade-off for products that might not be produced in an environmentally friendly, sustainable manner. Back in 2001 I wanted to knit a large afghan. It needed to be affordable, durable, and washable (think allergies and pets). Result = trip to a big box store. Soon after 9-11 I had a business trip to Anchorage with lots of airplane time for working on the afghan. I took vintage wooden needles (from a yard sale) thinking they’d be more acceptable to airport security. Well, I broke one the the needles enroute. A band-aid enabled me to keep knitting (you know how compulsive we are) but wasn’t an ideal solution. So I went to the Ommigmak musk ox coop, which was near my hotel. Can you imagine a bigger contrast–big box yarn vs qiviut? They only carried one needle size and it was the size I needed! When asked what I was making, I mumbled an embarrassed, vague reply. In response, I was told that everything hand knitted was a treasure. What a lesson! And 15 years later that afghan is still in use!

    • Julie   •     Author

      I loved this story!! And I have been there, I won’t travel with bamboo needles ever again, when I had a broken tip and had to keep filing and filing it with an emery board, while it kept breaking, until I got back to civilization and a yarn store. I am so glad that the yarn store (side note, Qiviut!! Amazing yarn, I hope to try it one day!) you encountered said that to you. Indeed, everything hand knitted is a treasure.

  20. Thought provoking, my dear. Such good points you make! Your shawl came out lovely. I’ve been doing shawls like that this year. I love knitting them. Acrylic or otherwise, I really don’t care. You wear it well.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks so much! Shawls are not usually my first choice (I love a good cowl!) but lighter ones are easy to wear in warmer weather, and Kveta really did have me rethinking shawls in general. \maybe I’m a shawl person after all!

  21. Whitney   •  

    Thank you for this. I have a tendency to yarn-shame myself, or feel like I “can’t” knit a project I’m interested in because the “good” materials are out of my budget. This is especially true being plus-size…the yarn cost for most sweaters for myself is such that I can really only afford to make one every 2 years. (Don’t even get me started on how SFO pretty much ignores the issues related to building a conscientious wardrobe if you’re over a size 16.) This post is such a good reminder that there are great yarns that are affordable, and often times they’d fit my lifestyle better anyway (wool and a spit-up prone baby don’t mix very well).

    Also, your shawl is beautiful!

    • Anna D.   •  

      I just had to thank you for raising the plus size thing, because it’s definitely one of the reasons why I feel a little outside of SFO as well. On the one hand, the benefit of making is that I can (in theory) make things to fit my not-quite-store-friendly size, so SFO should be right up my alley. On the other hand, unless I turn to making everything I wear (which I really can’t at this point, since I need to wear suits a lot and the most complicated thing I’ve sewn is some pyjama pants), I feel sort of excluded from SFO. It seems near impossible to find affordable, ethically-sourced, plus-sized clothes that work for a business-formal office (which, frankly, is where I spend most of my time).

      I don’t know, I feel like I end up complaining about SFO more than I really intend to because I think it raises a lot of really important issues. But most of the examples/models I’ve seen in SFO seem fairly removed from my life.

    • Julie   •     Author

      There are absolutely great yarns that are affordable, and if you want to knit yourself a sweater and don’t fell like you should unless it’s from a yarn that has a pedigree, then something is wrong. You absolutely should knit yourself sweaters you will love in yarns that you enjoy and suit your budget! It’s hard finding any office appropriate ethically sourced clothes, so I can totally feel your pain on that. I think as long as you are doing your best to really use and take care of the clothes you own and love and try not to buy too much (especially things you don’t absolutely love or don’t really need) you are doing the right thing.

  22. Di   •  

    I made a $60 worth of yarn sweater and it felted so has to be cut up as hot pads. My favorite was $25 of wool/acrylic and can be washed and dried. My jaw drops when I see a $300 kit. It might not even look right after all the time and $:(
    But SFO has given me awareness and appreciation for what I have and buy.

  23. Renee Anne   •  

    I think there’s a lot to be said about “big box store” yarn from companies like Lion Brand, Red Heart, Paton’s, and Caron (and others) because, like you said, it is ground zero for where people go when they first start knitting (unless they have a knitting friend that drags them to a yarn store on their first trip out) and, on top of that, there are plenty of people in the world that knit on a tight budget or are allergic to certain animal/plant fibers or that just don’t want to spend the money on unicorn horns and fairy farts (frugality comes to mind) or that know their audience (I’m going to make this for a baby, who is most likely going to puke on it for a year and then drag it around Linus-style for many more…needs to be washing machine/dryer safe). I’ll admit to some yarn snobbery but I will buy big box store yarns for the right reasons. Also, let’s be honest, the acrylic yarns available now are not the acrylic blends my mom worked with in the 60s and 70s…to be honest, the wools available to my mom & grandmother are nowhere near where they are now. I just tossed out some 50ish year old “permanently mothproofed” “virgin wool” from the late 60s. It didn’t feel anything like the superwash yarns we have available now.

    So, yes, it’s important to know what you’re getting into but also realize that what works for the goose may not always work for the gander.

  24. Danette Bartelmay   •  

    Dearest Julie ~
    I love this entire post!
    Your shawl is Gorgeous!!!
    YOU are Beautiful as ALWAYS … and I think the very best bit is YOU doing “the Salmon” :-)))

  25. Jeannie Gray   •  

    Thank you for writing this post & for putting my thoughts into words. You’ve said it much better than I ever could. And I love your Lion Brand shawl! And I’m still laughing over your video. 🙂

  26. Claire   •  

    Well said. You knit a beautiful shawl. It’s so great to see an aspirational piece of knitwear made from affordable yarn.

  27. Lotsofhermies   •  

    Thank you! So many viewpoints, all important, and should be heard. Listening doesn’t hurt anyone.

  28. Anna   •  

    Well said Julie! Love the end result too. And isn’t the most important thing that you enjoyed the process and ended up with a beautiful piece of knitting at the end of it?

  29. Christine   •  

    I enjoyed reading this post Julie and I think you raised a lot of valid points that will get a lot of makers thinking. Thank you.

  30. Stephanie   •  

    Spot on, Julie! So much to chew on here–thanks for sharing your thoughts. And so much of it applies to many aspects of life. I think people should just knit with what makes them happy and comfortable–physically and financially–and with a mindfulness that works for them. In the grand scheme, someone else’s choices are really none of my business and judging others for something like yarn choices seems really petty, especially when we all have different priorities for some really good reasons at various points in our lives. What works for me may not work for someone else, and that’s just fine. I think the world would be a better place if we extended a spirit of generosity and camaraderie to other makers. But what I really want to know is where can I sign up for your dance classes? <3

  31. Snow   •  

    All of this. Yes.
    And now when someone comments “are you STILL working on that?” I will smugly reply, “of course! It’s Slow Fashion!”
    Love the shawl!!

    • Julie   •     Author

      haha, absolutely, any time thinks you are taking too long, tell them it’s slow fashion!! Love it. 🙂

  32. Wanda   •  

    I love this post Julie – so many important thoughts on this! I would hate to contribute to a vibe that less expensive yarns from mass stores can’t produce beautiful things. I love your gorgeous wrap with variegated yarn from lion brand! And it just happens I was in their NYC store last week while visiting in the city for a few days. I picked up acrylic yarn that had a very soft feel, beautiful striping, and plan to make a pretty baby blanket with it, for a friend. I’m really excited! And washability is a MUST for a baby’s blanket. The shop was so pretty in design, and a table at the back was surrounded by adults and kids, getting their craft on. I went on to purl soho – stunning experience, gorgeous and more expensive yarns, also fabrics – even if one cannot afford their products, it’s a gorgeous place to see and dream about what you want to save up for!

  33. Pamela   •  

    All the thoughts and feels! And a lovely shawl to boot. While I do participate in SFO, I can’t say that I’ve ever (in all my life) felt like one of the “cool kids.” There’s always room at my lunch table for anyone crafty, and I think the most important thing is that no one feel left out of this conversation! There are lots of ways to participate in SFO without breaking the bank…my latest obsession is making rag yarn out of old sheets/towels that I no longer want/use. Ultimately, it’s all about mindfulness, and not comparing ourselves to others.

    • Julie   •     Author

      I think that’s really important, talking about slow fashion in other ways, like your rag yarn- that’s a brilliant idea! And what do you knit with it? I want to know more about this!

  34. Jan   •  

    I appreciate your honesty and insight and – most of all – your philosophy of inclusiveness for the craft of knitting. Also, that’s a lovely shawl!

  35. Rebekah Evelyn   •  

    I do admire Slow Fashion October, but I also super admire what you had to say about it. Your shawl is awesome and yarn omnivore is one of the best things I’ve heard all day. I totally agree with you on wanting to be Bristol Ivy’s friend, too…

  36. Tahnee   •  

    I have to admit I never heard of SFO until this year. Although I do admire the initiative I totally see your point about how it could actually be exclusive. I never like the idea of knitting as a privileged hobby, so there’s obviously nothing wrong with acrylic/big brand yarns.

  37. Lise   •  

    What a lovely post. I often feel that the knitting/crocheting world of blogland is an elite, perfect world in which I do not belong. I like to knit and crochet, and I like seeing what other people make, but I don’t like the competitive world of expensive yarn and (boy you made me laugh) reclaimed wood. I kind of get freaked out when I see that instagram crafters are taking photography classes to get a better picture, usually on reclaimed wood with a cup of some herbal tea and a pot plant. I love your blog because you keep it real. I feel like I would be friends with you if I met you. Thank you so much for keeping me from deleting Bloglovin’ from my computer!

  38. Val   •  

    I have to admit I really love SFO. I can related with a lot of what other commenters have said, but I also think there will always be folks who need a good soapbox from which to to judge others and fuel self-righteousness, so I try to take what I find motivating/inspiring and ignore the rest. I don’t see SFO as a black-and-white, all-or-nothing ultimatum, but more of a pick-and-choose-what-suits-you initiative and that’s how I’ve gone with it. So far I’ve seen SFO as a means to celebrate the handmade, the second-hand goods and the not-perfect-but-good-enough items from my closet. I get to discover companies that ensure socially acceptable working conditions and compliment other crafters on their hard work or garage-sale finds, without having to engage in debates about free trade and market economics.
    Your shawl is so beautiful! The shape and stockinette are perfect for showing off the colours and the white flecks add a neutral to make it wearable with just about anything. Love it.
    The barn door comment made me laugh so much! This! You’d think there was some elusive reclaimed wood aisle at Ikea! Although I am guilty of nagging Matt to clear his papers from the coffee table because suddenly the light is perfect and no one wants to see my chipped laminate desk with the burn hole from the Embossing Powder Incident. Ahem.

  39. Elisa Schulze   •  

    Thank you very much – for me your thoughts are to remember & I totally agree!

    • Julie   •     Author

      So glad that you found the post interesting and something to think about!

  40. miss agnes   •  

    Your post clearly struck a chord, and I agree with many of the things you say. I am participating for the first time but I’m not posting anything on Instagram, only on my blog. The way I see it, it is really to start a conversation but I can see that it can become the “cool girl club” as you say, with its endless variey of hipster friendly pictures (reclaimed barn wood, indeed). I follow a lot of knitting related accounts on Instagram and I am getting tired of seeing the same type of pics every single day: beautiful yarn with cute accessories around, or the legs stretched out on a beautiful blanket or couch, knitting.
    For me, SFO is much more than knitting, sewing or yarn, there are a lot questions around simplicity and sustainability and the traps associated to these trends (because they are trends, whether we like or not), and at the same time these could possibly grow into a bigger social movement with wider implications.
    Anyway, kudos for your out of the box post, your not wool shawl, and your salmon dance. I will just add that I am currently knitting a 100% acrylic, 10$ worth sweater and I’m loving it, even if the yarn is not my favorite.

    • Yvette   •  

      Excellent comment! I know what you mean about the photos. Oh, that our lives were that adorable, right?

  41. Yvette   •  

    I too have thought a lot about the socio-economic privilege so often on display in the internet crafting world. The Slow Fashion movement speaks to me because I try to live consciously and not directly contribute to the abuse of (mostly) women and girls in the textile industry. However, I am also, and always have been, a person of low income. What to do?
    Well, I often just buy less. I’m used to it and it’s actually ok. When I do buy mass produced clothes, it’s almost always second hand. As far as yarn? For sweater, mitten and hat wool I suggest Cascade or Briggs and Little (wonderful woolly wool at lower prices). I do buy artisan, local, and high end fibre on occasion. I save up for it. Then I treasure those projects forever.

  42. Kimberley Buergel   •  

    Simply love this post! Fantastic job! Thank you!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks, Kimberley! I’m glad you got something from it. 🙂

  43. dagmar   •  

    I perfectly agree with you Julie and I´d love to sit at a table with you and knit…..with all kinds of yarns. My stash is mainly “inexpensive” to say it in politically correct way and gets bigger whenever I see sales. So, I´m not buying organized or planned, but organize my knits according to my stash. 🙂 Wishing you and your family a good fall.
    P.S. I truly enjoy reading your blog.

  44. Amy   •  

    Thank you so much for writing this Julie! I agree with everything you’ve said—Slow Fashion October is a great idea and has a lot of potential but it’s also always felt like something that was incredibly privileged (and I also loved Bristol’s post about the inherent privilege of the idea of making things by hand).

    Crafting for oneself has a long and varied history of being a privilege vs under-privileged thing—it only became “women’s work” when well-off women had leisure time to pursue such activities (before that, knitting was a unisex activity, with male shepherds knitting while tending to their flocks, and the hand-knitting guilds that Elizabeth I protected against machine-knitting industries were populated entirely by men because women couldn’t join guilds in the 1600s… I digress).

    I love that Karen is deeply committed to a hand-made, well-crafted, conscientious lifestyle—those are things I think most everyone can strive to in their own way. It’s just important to remember that everyone’s path to that lifestyle may not look the same. At least not until everyone is provided photo-worthy weathered wooden planks. 😉

    • Julie   •     Author

      I’m so glad that there has been so much support for this post, I was really nervous about writing it, but you are absolutely right- we need to encourage and remember that not everyone’s SF journey is going to look the same, or even have many overlapping points of interest. When an aesthetic is so highly curated, it can feel exclusive. Karen is always excellent about talking about inclusivity, but I think the inclusive factor is too heavily reliant on people self contributing to an instagram hashtag, which in itself feeds popularity of a movement but doesn’t necessarily stoke the fire of conversation about the privilege, economics, and potential homogeneity of it.

      And heck yeah, wood plank backdrops for everyone!

  45. Susan   •  

    So so many good thoughts here and elsewhere in the SFO discussion.

    Isn’t it interesting that handmade items are such a privilege now? When industrialization took hold, one of the big benefits to society was that people had more time freed up to do as they pleased. All those precious hours spent growing food, starting cooking fires and weaving cloth for clothes and bedding could then be spent specializing in arts and sciences and inventing things. Now, a lot of people are coming back to handmade as a way to balance the stress of their working lives and the relatively un-tactile experience of being on computers so much. I know that what I just said is VERY MUCH oversimplifying the situation, but it’s just my observation.

  46. Nancy   •  

    Thank you for writing this!

    I do find it interesting that what were once upon a time necessities are now hobbies for those who have the luxury of free time and disposable income (knitting, quilting, etc.)

    That being said, I am a knitter and a quilter. 🙂 I grew up with a mother who knitted and quilted as a homemaker for a hobby, with inexpensive materials out of necessity, and I have many a polyester quilt or acrylic sweater or acrylic crocheted afghan from her. She also had children and needed things that could be thrown in the wash, and superwash wool was not sold at TG&Y. 🙂 Anyone remember that place?

    I am very fortunate to afford $28 sock yarn now (and have waaay too big of a yarn stash of such yarns!) and be able to support artisans, and I also realize it is a luxury; a luxury that keeps those artisans in business. When I was knitting in grad school, you bet I was at JoAnn and Michael’s with my coupons in hand! Some of my favorite things I have knitted are with my bargain yarn. I will still always knit baby items with Lion Brand Cotton Ease! And there are luxury yarns that wash and wear awfully. It’s all about quality for me, regardless of price point. And I do still take a good bargain when I find one. Yarn omnivore! Great term.

  47. Natalie   •  

    I love that you added your two cents tot he conversation. I also tend to run from the crowd, and I think it’s important to have people critique any movement, however well intentioned.

    Also… your links sent me off on an internet rabbit hole that ended with this shawl-turned-cape, and I totally want to nominate this project for a Modification Monday feature!

    http://www.ravelry.com/projects/Dombrosha/lokken
    .

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks so much for the awesome mod monday recommendation, I’m definitely going to get in touch with her!! Well spotted.

  48. Daisy   •  

    Ditto, plus thanks for the laugh about needing a “shark” like a hole in the head.

  49. Lorraine K   •  

    I didn’t realize how much I wanted someone to say this until I read your post! I follow Fringe Association and enjoy it but I do feel sometimes that sometimes certain communities can grow blinders and I especially get annoyed about publications where everything is so artfully, expensively “simple.” I think trend in styling knitting garments has definitely gone in that direction… It’s the pale models with porcelain skin on the stormy beach… it’s a look that’s very much styled for a wealthy white female audience. And those aren’t the only people who knit.

    In college I would have subscribed more to the slow fashion/slow food philosophies but I think I started getting irked because of living in Brazil (where I am now). Here the only clothes available are extremely low quality cheap clothes or extremely expensive better quality clothes (but even then the quality will barely match that of a store like Banana Republic). It’s very, very easy to tell people’s social class and incomes by looking at what they’re wearing and it exacerbates even more the inequality in this country. It’s just one more barrier that makes it difficult for people of lower social classes to compete in the job market and pull themselves up financially.

    So in short yes make your own clothes! But the abundance of cheap, high quality clothing in the US (and yes our mass produced clothing IS of relatively high quality) is a privilege that we shouldn’t take for granted.

    • Julie   •     Author

      This is such a fantastic contribution, I would never have thought that about living in Brazil – but of course there would be a lot of countries where this would be a similar problem. And so true, we tend to judge people by their clothes, and it is very hard for those in harder circumstances to move up because of something as complex and yet as simple as the clothes they can afford to wear. And thank you for pointing out that the cheap clothes we often have access to is of quality much higher than in many parts of the world.

  50. Alina   •  

    Wow, Julie, as always so thought-provoking. “There’s room in my knitting world for all sorts of yarn. Big brands, indie brands, no brand at all. I like to mix it up.” – I can definitely relate to these words! Supporting eco/organic wool and celebrating handmade pieces made with sustainable materials is something that I am definitely up for! But I do admit that sometimes the prices can be really frightening… I once saw absolutely amazing yarn at Woolful,$35 for a skein… I counted that I would need at least 10 to make a cardigan, for example (I am a garment knitter), well $350 for materials is just too much for me… My Granny, a lifetime knitter, knits only with acrylic yarn that she gets at the local store for about 20-30 cents or so, she would have a heart attack if she knew that the yarn can cost more than $2 🙂 She literally doesn’t believe me when I say the usual price for 100% wool yarn. Does it make her less of a crafter? Of course not!

    I don’t remember when was the last time I knitted with acrylic yarn, I just don’t like the feeling of it in my hands. Or maybe I am just influenced by “only natural yarn” philosophy? Honestly, I don’t know… I remember once I saw a beautiful skein of yarn in a LYS – soft, my favorite neutral color, great to touch, I took it into my hands and saw 100% acrylic on a label, I put it down immediately with a note of disappointment. But then thought – why? I liked it in my hands and probably wouldn’t even know that it was acrylic, if not for the label… I didn’t get it. So, I guess I am partly a yarn snob. But it definitely concerns only myself, I would NEVER judge other knitter who prefers synthetic fibers over natural ones. After all most knitters start with cheap, mass produce yarns. I did begin this way, I came back to knitting after graduating from the university and definitely wouldn’t be able to afford any luxurious yarns. And the fact that there ARE mass produce yarns means that there will be more people getting into fiber crafts. Imagine if there were only $25 skeins on the shelves – 80% of beginners would be scared off. Some crafters will switch to all natural yarns over the time, some won’t and that’s OK!

    The fact that a knitter can enjoy different fibers (eco or not) doesn’t make him/her a hypocrite, yarn omnivore – LOVE it. I adore plant fibers – cotton/bamboo/linen/silk. Not all the yarns I use produced in an eco-friendly way, but I love them, they make great garments and are great to touch. I try to live sustainable in general: don’t binge shop, try to eat organic and locally produced vegetables, dairy, supporting the local farmers; but once in awhile I DO buy, oh horror, big Pringles (mass product company) chips, you know those with onion/sour cream flavor :), and it feels soooo good I am not even sorry, it happens once in several months, but it doesn’t make me less supportive of natural way of living/organic food.

    Anyway, sorry for such a long comment, it’s just a very interesting thing to think about! Oh, and if to be entirely honest: if I had the unlimited yarn budget, I would knit only from all these gorgeous natural yarns out there 🙂 Because they all look so good!!!

  51. Janice   •  

    I agree with you 100%, exactly my thoughts on knitting since the 1980’s. My favorite yarn to knit with is WOOL, only in my price range! But then again any kind of yarn that is attached to needles….and time.
    Love your blog.

    Janice from Southeastern, WI

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my blog, and your common sense approach to knitting and materials! I love wool, too- it’s my favourite. But I do enjoy being a yarn omnivore!

  52. Onkuri   •  

    Thank you for writing this, it needed to be said!

    On one hand, I totally support the idea of mindful consumption — whether of RTW clothes or crafting materials — and am frankly perturbed by how people can justify buying yarn/fabric endlessly. People who boast of SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy) almost seem to be implying that buying crafting materials they will never use is somehow morally superior to buying clothes they will never wear, and I find that distasteful.

    On the other hand, the ‘slow’ and ‘minimalistic’ movement seems to have been hijacked by the idea of a wardrobe of shapeless neutrals. Which is great if you like boxy clothes or neutral colours, but if you like well fitted clothes and colours, it’s rather dreary to contemplate a wardrobe full of things which don’t make you happy!

    And there is definitely power and privilege built into having the ability to choose sustainably. Let’s not forget, the greatest markets for ‘cheap’ clothing are not in the western world, they are in the developing world. Growing up in a developing country, we were all taught to donate gently used clothes to those who couldn’t afford it, and once a year, during the major festival season, we bought new clothes (or clothing material) for our domestic help, office assistants, etc. Now, with the availability of cheap RTW, they can afford new clothes for themselves throughout the year.

    My thoughts are still a bit jumbled on this topic, but thank you for the opening!

  53. Stacey   •  

    It’s interesting to me that Karen’s business revolves on selling beautiful bags in the hopes you won’t want just one. Isn’t that opposite to the idea of consumer consumption?

    • Julie   •     Author

      Interesting! I wonder if people buy multiple Field bags. I haven’t purchased anything, but I believe they are all supposed to be sustainably made, and quite durable (not that I’ve had any project bag ever wear out, mind you) I think she sells other items as well, that are made to last- looms, and scissors come to mind. That’s another part of our industry (the knitting/crafting industry)- everyone is selling something. 😉

  54. Ruth Werwai   •  

    oh Julie, thanks for posting this! I really needed this reminder today, and I think it’s evidenced by the amount of interaction/comments that this is a really important issue within SFO. I’ve promised my hubby a hand knit sweater for his birthday this year (he’s been wanting one for ages…) and at first we wanted to use one of the Brooklyn Tweed yarns. They’re gorgeous but we just can’t afford a sweater’s quantity plus the shipping costs to Germany and so I’m off hunting for alternatives. I was feeling discouraged but this has really helped change my perspective- I can still give him something made with love that he’ll wear for years and that’s really the point 🙂

  55. Angela   •  

    I agree with what you have written but I don’t associate this problem with SFO (which I don’t really understand the point of I have to say) but rather with the knitting internet world in general – a lot of popular designers only seem to design patterns using high end yarns and a lot of bloggers seem to use them as well. This creates the impression that one has to/should be using these yarns as well. I would say that the truth is that most knitters who take their hobby seriously knits more than they need in the first place, not to mention people with huge stashes of yarn or fabric.
    I suppose what gets me most is the irony of a “movement” or dare I say it a website that relies on people constantly making new things and buying more yarn to keep going, whilst at the same time preaching that one should create and consume less!

    • Julie   •     Author

      These are all really valid points- I have a lot of cowls and scarves and shawls at this point, and probably could go the rest of my life without ever ‘needing’ another one! A lot of designers get those high end yarns for pattern support, because yarn companies want more patterns that call for their yarn. You are right- as knitters we actually consume quite a bit, and especially in the process of learning, the trial and error when there are no doubt many failed knits. So making choices about materials that are in keeping with what you can afford and what makes sense to you ethically is more important the more you knit! I am trying now to focus on gaps in my wardrobe (more sweaters), and recently I had 2 pairs of mittens bite the dust, so I definitely need some new pairs. Something that I’ve learned through trial and error is that I need to knit more garments in color basics, not just in a pretty yarn or in a color I haven’t knit with before.
      Consumption and craft is an topic that needs a LOT more discussion in the blogosphere!

  56. Sonje   •  

    Such an interesting discussion! I always considered SFO to be simply about buying less, thinking more about our clothing choices, and reducing waste. To me, that isn’t exclusive to “the privileged” – in fact, buying less is more inclusive to poorer people! I don’t always understand why people get so caught-up in the “privilege” of SFO, because it’s not about buying expensive clothes (in the way I interpret it).

  57. carol H   •  

    Well said, Julie.
    I knit , sew many of my clothes, quilt, tat, and enjoy reading blogs of people who do all of these crafts/arts. I have long maintained that the person who buys her fabric/yarn at Walmart enjoys the process of making the item as much as the person who only shops at local stores.
    I have found that some cheaper fibers are just that, too cheap to use again. I have found others that make great garments.
    I have also been slightly amused at the ‘vintage’ sewing craze, because I have been using some of my patterns for basic shirts, skirts, tshirts, for years, and now they are considered vintage. So I guess I’m back in style again.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Haha, isn’t that funny when something you love comes back around in style again? I’ve just seen that happen recently with 90s fashion, which I remember. And I agree with you, the enjoyment if the craft should be primary, and then what a crafter can afford and find access to is next. No one should ever feel ashamed because they love to make but can’t afford expensive materials.

  58. Teresa   •  

    Thanks for writing this, Julie. Perfectly said.

  59. Christine   •  

    I have been seeing SFO popping up on Instagram but could never find where it started which frustrated me to no end! I would love to be that person who can afford to buy everything locally and ethically sourced but being middle class in one of the most expensive places in the US to live and having two little ones it is extremely hard. I have knitted six sweaters and only two look decent enough to wear at all which frustrates me. I have always felt on the outside of what the cool knitting kids are doing. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has felt this way. I still don’t understand how some people buy all this expensive yarn for all their projects. Sometimes the cheap stuff just fits the bill. Some of the really expensive stuff out there I just don’t see the appeal after touching it in person and nothing angers me more than a really expensive hand dyed yarn that pills and doesn’t hold up after two wears.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Slow Fashion as a concept has existed for a long while, and has it’s roots somewhere in the traditional fashion world, but slow fashion October in a crafting sense originated with Karen @ Fringe Association, I think. As for some of those expensive yarns that don’t hold up, I agree that is such a pain! Superwash merino is usually very guilty of pilling quickly, and single ply yarns, as well. A wool (not superwash) or wool/acrylic blend would likely pill a lot less. The softer a yarn, and the more halo it has, the longer the fibers and the more likely to pill quickly. Although pilling is sort of inevitable with all sweaters, the higher the twist and the more plies the better likelihood of less pilling! I know that wasn’t at all your point, and I agree it is no fun to pay a lot of money for a yarn that doesn’t give good results. SO I’ve learned to coo over the initial squish factor, but then take a hard look at the fibers before making a choice to invest a sweater’s worth of knitting time into it.

  60. Jes   •  

    Wonderful post, I think it resonates with so many crafters and artisans. admittedly, I am not a knitter but I come to your blog to see your beautiful creations, I find you and those inspiring and motivating. I am a crafter, and I think a lot of what you talk about a priz admittedly, I am not a knitter but I come to your blog to see your beautiful creations, I find you and those inspiring and motivating. I am a crafter, and I think a lot of what you talk about aapplied to our crafts. It’s about the love of the art, not an attention grabbing show and for goodness sakes NOT about shaming others or questioning their practices! Bravo to you for speaking up, clearly you’re not alone in how you feel! And your beautiful shawl that you created? Perfection to me! Keep up doing what you love so you love what you do!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks so much for the kind words of support and about my shawl! It’s very comfy, and I like how it sits. It’s holding up well, too.

  61. Tasha   •  

    I hope it’s OK if I say that this post and some of the comments made me so sad! Not because of what you all have expressed, but because I see that so many people feel left out of SFO.

    I personally love SFO, but it has always bothered me when people complain about slow fashion being elitist, because at the core it should be about buying LESS, and being more thoughtful about our choices—ideas which are available to everyone! I would even say that someone buying artisan yarn to make something that they don’t need for this month has totally missed the point.

    And I do believe that all of us in “Western cultures” desperately need to figure out how to slow down our consumption of everything, otherwise we may deplete our resources past recovery. That doesn’t mean we should all just feel guilty and crawl in a hole either, there are steps we can all take and I think it’s really important that we talk about them, which is why I wrote a post about slow(er) fashion for everyone … https://tashamillergriffith.com/2016/10/06/slower-fashion-is-for-everyone/

    For what it’s worth, I also think there’s also a fair amount of discussion around SFO on topics like buying secondhand and mending, real ways to make a difference which won’t break the bank. I know that there are lots of people posting who really believe in what they are doing, and have budgets to consider, and I hope that anyone who’s interested can find some folks talking about slower making in a way that makes sense to them.

    • Julie   •     Author

      It is definitely okay! I agree with you that so many people are passionate about slow fashion and making better choices. The self-reflective aspects of slow fashion are fantastic, because as you pointed out, we consumer at a worrying rate, and we all need to learn to slow it down. And just because we can make clothes and accessories doesn’t mean that we aren’t buying more than we need, with stashes so large that may well outlive us, and become a younger person’s slow fashion thrift store or garage sale find (isn’t it exciting to find thrifted yarn?!). I did read your post, you offered loads of great tips for each section of slow fashion! Which is great, I’m glad that it’s getting around and people are defining it for themselves, which is so important. I think if I did slow fashion October, I’d have to take the month off from knitting. Not only do I not need anything, I personally have hit the stage where if I’m wearing something knitted and I’m at a party or with friends and they compliment it, I offer it to them to keep.

      • Tasha   •  

        I also meant to say thank you so much for adding your voice and your non-judgemental thoughts to this conversation! And thanks for taking the time to read my post.
        One more thought: If that’s the stage you’re at with your knitting, you should totally learn to spin! I felt the same as you for a long time, worried that everything would then take forever and a day (it already takes me forever to knit anything unless I’m traveling—too many other things I could work on in my studio). But once I learned, I found I loved the process of spinning itself so much, I would rather spin the yarn and knit one thing than knit six things from other yarn … and I felt pretty silly for having avoided for so long something I was pretty sure I would enjoy. I dare you to try it! 😉

  62. Heather   •  

    I’d be interested in a post where you talk about the different types of yarn that you’ve used for different projects and why 🙂

    • Julie   •     Author

      That’s a tough one, there are so many yarns I enjoy, and then so many I haven’t tried before! But I see what you mean, I wonder about maybe doing a year in review at the end of the year – talking about favourite projects or favourite yarns, what I liked and why. This is a really good idea Heather, thank you!

  63. Kessa   •  

    I feel the same way towards yarn… I find that especially after having L, craft store brand yarn (which are often machine washable) began to look increasingly appealing to me! Wool is also one of my absolute favourite fibre to knit with, but acrylic has its merits too. Many yarn here has some man-made materials spun in to make the yarn sturdier. Your new shawl looks so pretty. I love the gradients!

    • Julie   •     Author

      Thanks for your practical stance on this, I agree- especially after having kids! Fiber blends make for kid-friendly knits, that’s for sure. And sock yarns need that nylon, otherwise you’ll be darning the holes every time you wear them with shoes for more than a few hours.

  64. Anne   •  

    I enjoyed your post – it made me laugh. Wow, I didn’t even know about SFO until your post and another post that I read earlier this week on someone else’s blog. Didn’t know it even existed. And I didn’t know about there being any judgment as to the type of yarn knitters use. Personally, I still go to Michael’s, Wal-Mart, or Joann to buy my wool. I can’t afford to spend a lot, but I love to knit and I think you can still make some pretty nice things with cheaper wool. I get from reading here that SFO is really about personal consumption, but I couldn’t help laughing about your comment on the wool being photographed on reclaimed barn wood planks.

  65. Monica   •  

    I am a little late to the party in commenting on your post. They are SUCH wise words! I completely agree with you on everything. While I can totally relate to the concept of SFO your points are exactly what I have also been wondering about…. Thank you for putting these thoughts on paper….. I guess it comes down to taking the concept and making it yours, making the small or big adjustments you CAN make, the ones that suit you….Awareness of the problem at the root of this discussion is so important!!

  66. Tien   •  

    I grew up watching my mom knitting and sewing clothes & sweaters for all of my siblings and myself with yarn/fabric from big box craft stores. It was all that she could afford but the special touches that she put into our clothes were priceless and filled with love. There are lots of important topics that are part of the conversation that is SFO. It’s great that they are being discussed and I like reading about different ways that I could maybe make a difference whether it be in my yarn buying choices or learning how to mend/alter my current clothes instead of adding it to the landfill. I can’t see myself buying exclusively known origins wool yarn however, due to the cost and also to the fact that I love to knit with all kinds of fiber. Yes, that includes acrylic blends like the one that you used to knit your gorgeous shawl!

  67. Alice   •  

    I am in tears after reading this post. Your generosity is amazing. You are beautiful, have a lovely family, design amazing patterns, and could very easily sit to the side and maintain a sheen of being one of the “cool girls.” You could even quietly not-participate in SFO without saying a word. But not only did you write a thoughtful, contrary blog post, you also went out and bought a ball of “shawl in a ball” and made something gorgeous out of it that you’ve featured on your blog. These acts might seem very small to some, but you will change the lives of some women in a fundamental way. For these women, you have opened up your arms and given them a big, genuine, warm hug. No condescension. No hoops to jump through to earn your respect. Nothing but love and understanding.

    For me, you have demonstrated that I fall very (very very) short of where I aspire to be with regard to being a kind and generous person. I try, but it’s so incredibly hard sometimes to open yourself up and take the risk … and often it is a risk to be kind and generous. With your actions, in particular, you have risked the disdain of the cool girls, of the women who want to be the cool girls, of the yarn companies that want to be associated with the cool girls … and so on.

    On so many levels, thank you for what you’ve done.

    • Julie   •     Author

      Absolutely a big hug! I was very nervous about writing this, but after sharing some of my feelings with individual knitters, it was clear I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, so I took a deep breath and decided to post about it. I feel that kindness and generosity are so important, the most important gifts we can give each other, and they cost nothing. My knitting world is one of inclusivity, and I wanted to make sure that I said that out loud. Thank you so much for your comment, it made my day!

  68. Pingback: Terra shawl | Sunshine and Ravioli

  69. Nicky   •  

    I absolutely agree and adore you for being so brave and inclusive. While I can afford certain brands sometimes, I know some people can’t at all. So there’s a seat on my couch, desk, table, floor, wherever we can sit. While I too love the concept of slow fashion October and think the concept is relevant all year round, I agree, the movement is not always inclusive for the crafters in lower income brackets.

  70. Laurie Marshall   •  

    I don’t knit, and barely sew, but participate in SFO by sharing my thoughts with others about buying secondhand and culling our wardrobes. I can’t afford many of the sustainable brands, but I can promote other ways to be conscious through my purchases. There’s room for everyone, and plenty of opportunities to claim a niche and make it your own. 🙂

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