It’s been an odd week in many ways, full of even more thoughts than usual about craft and representation. It also feels like we’ve truly hit the summer slow season, when we’re all spending a little more time outside and less time making things and talking about making them on the internet. Personally, that doesn’t mean I’m knitting less, but I have been spending some time knitting outside as I work on swatches for the big autumnal return to knitting.
Anyway, here are just a few things that stood out for me this week.
This article on the rise of mending in Britain. I wonder if people are mending things more, or if it’s the fact that they’re talking about it and making mending a creative act that’s new? Great to see Tom of Holland who’s work is at the forefront of the visible mending movement.
This film about the future of clothing which includes Patagonia’s repair program and experiments in dyeing without water (water use at multiple stages being one of the least sustainable aspects of the garment industry).
One thing the documentary touches on is the tension between taking the time to fully develop innovative ways of doing things and the relentless demand for things that are superficially new to keep up with trends. We were going through samples this week, removing ones in discontinued yarns from the set that we might display at events, and musing on the factors that affect the longevity of a yarn and design.
The fabric world makes changes in yarn seem positively glacial with collections launched at a pace that means the fabric is often unavailable almost as soon as a book or pattern featuring it is published. A team of fabric designers recently launched an interesting new approach to designing fabric, teaming up with an existing fabric company to launch a collaborative collection that will be supported by their own project designs. I’m curious to see where Cotton and Steel goes.
I submitted my first knitting pattern almost exactly nine years ago (way back when I took pictures on film and scanned them in). One of the biggest changes I’ve seen since then has been in the accessibility of designing knitting patterns. At that time I would never have considered submitting something to a print magazine, and only sent that pattern to Knitty because they openly invited contributions on their website. which is wonderful, and has brought a range of perspectives that I don’t think we would have seen without the internet and self-publishing being a viable choice. At the same time, sometimes it just feels like there is so much that it’s hard to even see and appreciate individual designs.
And yet, I do think there are people who would like to make their own garments who don’t find their style and wants catered to by existing patterns, at all. I really love that Juniper Moon Farm focuses so much on the story behind the designs in their Shepherd and the Shearer project and I especially loved reading Pamela Wynne’s description of her inspiration as: “a kind of queer prepster style that I’ve been seeing every day on my friends, colleagues, and students (and in the mirror).” Not the worst description of my current style, at least every other day, and so refreshing to see masculine styles for women described as queer rather than ‘boyfriend’. Today I’m wearing Pam’s Aunt Fred sweater, with shorts that incidentally were marketed as ‘boyfriend style’.
As I swatch and sketch new designs I’ve been thinking about wardrobe building and creating garments that will be really worn, day in, day out. This outfit along from knitwear designer Andi Satt and Lauren of lladybird.com that combines a knit and sew along to intentionally create a complete garment is a great idea. If you need inspiration have a look at Natalie Selles 12 outfits project.
You might have heard that two of my favourite, most fabulous, designers are touring the United States together. I adore that Stephen West has been pushing the boundaries of what wearable knitwear design can be, and creating garments that really speaks to knitters who didn’t feel like there was much out there for them. Plus my mum recently mentioned that she thought he’d come into his own as an artist, and if my mum says so, it must be true. Steven B has built an incredibly inspiring yarn store business, but he also has a mother who’s pride in her son is beautiful. I met her years ago before I ever met him and she was so excited to tell me about him (I got a business card with sparkly yarn attached too!).
British crochet magazine, Simply Crochet, which I think in general is doing a good job of featuring projects that are fun and appealing made a styling decision that I and many others found rather horrifying. I’m so pleased that they publicly apologised and are taking steps to rectify this, plus I think it provoked some great discussion in social media (uh… not that that’s a good reason to do insensitive things!).
Speaking of Simply Crochet its publisher, Future Publishing which also publishes Mollie Makes, The Knitter and Simply Knitting was bought this week by Immediate Media, publisher of Knit Today. I can’t imagine that we’re not going to lose at least some of those overlapping knitting titles although hopefully the sale will allow at least some of the staff who work on them to keep their jobs.
Lastly, this story made me smile this morning. Amen.