I find myself on this sunny mid November day caught between doing the administrative details of wrapping up the Aberthau flax project and just really wanting to knit and spin. When I think about it I realize that these two things have much in common; slow clothing for the future!
As I have been spinning assorted donated llama and wool that I stuffed in various dye jars over the summer months my impatience took over and I began knitting and “on the spot design”- not really knowing where it is going to end up, but needing to start the next step before finishing the last, so I now have a knitted coat in progress that involves still more washing fleece, sorting, dying, spinning before the knitting continues.
I think I will semi-felt the knit when the knitting is done.
But then back to that flax project- now I find myself the happy owner of much linen ready to be spun, and dreaming of a light sleeveless summer tank top, knit from my locally grown flax and likely to be dyed with various park end-of-season plants.
My concept of fashion and clothing has changed greatly from when I was teenager and thought about seasonal wear, and new clothing each season. Now I think about what project I am starting in a season- from the ground up- dreaming of it being finished and ready for wear possibly as far as 2-3 years from when I start.
Clothing and fashion has always been a strong part of my personal sense of self-identity; never following the fashion trends but more inclined to shop at thrift stores when my highschool peers all wore “beaver canoe and kettle creek preppie wear”- I was wearing old mens’ fedoras and big velour bloomers my mom made for me, or neck ties and leopard pants- whatever bucked the trend, my fashion sense changed rapidly and my wardrobe was deep in gear for the choosing.
Now I am on a mission to minimize and simplify.
To make everything I wear, and to have the pieces I own count; back to the days of a limited wardrobe, I like the idea of daily uniforms that speak equally to comfort, fashion and wearability for different activities.
Outdoor work pants I can wear to a cocktail party?
A dress I can work in the studio in before heading out for dinner?
I am sure this is all possible, and with focus in what I make, over time I hope to continue the wardrobe purge of extras or ‘someday’ garments and stream-line down to a purest’s 15 piece seasonal modular wardrobe for all occasions, and all hand-made by yours truly. So I continue to think about growing more flax, and other fibre plants I might want to wear 10 years from now…
Something I learned this year, clothing is a social activity; and I don’t mean a trip to the mall with friends. But, time spent in my weekly knitting circle, hanging out with other fibre folk, and gardening or spinning- all of these activities are best done in the company of others and with some long-term planning will lead to what I find I am wearing on my back down the road. A new-found liberation from what the designers want to dictate I should be wearing, a liberation from worry over what factory my garment was made in and a relearnt self-reliance and constant form of self-expression; what is not to like!
The added bonus, I don’t have those old “quick-fix needs” to go buy something new like I used to, my desires are slower now, rooted in a keen urge to spin, knit or sew my way to something new I can have for next season, or even the season after that.
I like this reality of starting from scratch, or remaking from what I find around me, and as a fun side project just began working with a group of 4 women, a bride-to-be, her mother, the mother-in-law to-be, and the best friend-; all came to my house last Saturday. We spent the afternoon tearing apart both moms’ wedding dresses from ’73 and ’80, and are using that fabric to construct something new, Ash’s wedding dress. It will be completely different, new for her, and imbued with all of that family history and meaning, what a beautiful and poignant way to head down the aisle.
Many of us are tapping into the value of our clothing and of cloth now, and it is encouraging to see more projects of this sort take root in the main stream conciousness; the opposite of the horrific practice some brides now have of destroying their dresses after the wedding. Instead, honouring the value of the cloth, and the people who wove and sewed the garment whoever they might have been. We are relearning a respect and value for the textile tradition.
in case you missed the link above, here is my final post on the Abertahu flax project