I have had this little challenge with myself for a while now, and this week I feel like I made some progress.
As I have mentioned before, I would like to create a series of uniforms for myself- things made BY me, FOR me, and get to the point where I am not needing to depend on manufactured clothing.
There are two big things here:
1.this means less clothes- which I like, think a suitcase with well chosen articles that will make do for all occasions. Why can’t I live with that simplicity every day?
2. the articles I do have are made by my hand, as much as possible at every step.
So a few days ago I cast off a wool coat from my knitting needles. A wool and llama fleece coat made through the process of cleaning the fleece, dying the wool, spinning and knitting while making the design up on the fly as I went.
Here it is!I have yet to line it, and have a lovely old silk robe that will be re purposed for this task… It is a stunning piece of fabric, but in it’s current state I don’t have much use for wearing it, so this is my way of keeping what I love, but making it work in my paired down closet.
The colours of the silk will go well too with the natural dyes I used in the coat: rudebeckia, woad, marigold and a few other experiments…I love the ‘seashore, forest-soft, winter-like west coast-ness’ of it all together! Right now I just have buttons I found on it, but plan on making some buttons either from local wood or maybe the off-casts from David’s horn tools he just made for flint knapping… But now that I can stop obsessing about my wool coat and spinning for it- I can turn my wheel to the flax grown last summer, and finally had a chance to make my first plied skein of linen from what I grew.I am going to dye the skeins as I spin, and then use the same domino square knit to make up something on the fly as a sleeveless summer shirt/dress… As I have no idea how much linen I actually have I am going to knit top down- so it might be crop top length, but I am hoping for more along the hip line. I am going to see if I can turn the domino pattern into a lace pattern of some sort so that will be my challenge. The cool thing about the coat from a knitters perspective, is that it is quite styled and fitted, but only uses the domino pattern, ribbing, and short rows. Having just begun knitting 2 years ago I would never have imagined I would be doing something this ambitious now! We will see how using the same basic pattern and design method translates into a summer dress in linen.
So on the Clothing Independence front: I figure 1 article of clothing every 6 months might be doable as a part time creative pursuit. And I think my next challenge after this first linen piece is to tackle my addiction to bluejeans. damn them anyway! Blue Jeans- and all cotton really, are a horrific fibre addiction in my culture and generation- and I would like to try and break free if I can. The trick is going to be finding something that looks good and is super-multifunctional work wise. For me it will require getting my head around getting some sort of loom going, weaving the cloth- and spinning a fibre suitable for weft strength- and having a simple pattern that fits well….really this challenge may take me more then 6 months!
For denim replacement fibre, I think I am leaning towards spinning a linseywoolsey blend, I was so in love with what Mary Lou spun when I visited Capilano University textiles program to help them process their flax a few months back. here is picture of what Mary Lou’s linseywoolsey looked like.
love the darker fleece with the light linen- no dying required and would hide dirt from the garden pretty well! linen would be strong and breathe and wool give some warmth and have more spring then linen.
So for now, back to the drawing board- I mean, the spinning wheel.