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:
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.
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.