Thursday, April 9, 2015

Slow crafting and being content. {Cheap Fashion: Part 2}

{A month and a half later and I finally got around to this post! You can read part 1 here.}

Since clothes have never been super important to me, the thing that actually got me thinking about fast, cheap fashion was yarn. I could care less about buying clothes, but yarn and fiber...that's another story. :)

Listening to the Woolful podcast really started to open my eyes about the origin of yarn. (Are you listening to that podcast yet? I know I talk about it all the time, but seriously...go listen!) I spin so of course I know how yarn is created, but I had never really thought about the other aspects: where the sheep are raised, how they're raised, and how the fiber is treated during the processes from fleece to yarn. The podcast combined with this amazing post by Felicia spurred me into thinking more about my sewing and knitting habits and about the crafting community in general.

Disclaimer: I am talking about myself here. I'm not being judgmental about anyone else...I'm just telling you what I see in myself.

I would like to think that I'm one of those really thoughtful makers: someone who plans out projects, uses good materials, and takes her time to make a nice finished object. But too often I'm not. I buy cheap materials (and then I'm surprised when they don't hold up...go figure!) and rush through projects just to get them done.

I'd like to know where my yarn comes from and how it was processed. Most yarns I've seen (especially in person rather than online) are labeled pretty vaguely about what country and breed of sheep the yarn came from. After learning about the superwash process and about misleading labels (yarn being labeled as the product of one country when it has spent most of its life in China), I decided that I want to be more careful about what new yarn I buy. (I'm still using the yarns I already owned because if I weeded through my stash to find only American yarns, I probably wouldn't have any.) I want to focus on buying yarn that was grown in the U.S. and minimally processed with the least amount of chemicals possible. Wool is such an amazing material that it's a shame we won't just leave it alone in its natural state!

It's not just about quality, though. It's also about the quantity, which ties into discontent. I know that I personally struggle with being content, and in our society, I don't think I'm the only one. Since I don't do nearly as much sewing as I used to, my fabric stash currently isn't too out of control. But there are still fabrics that I have had for too long without using them. Yarn is a bigger issue for me right now. If I knitted exclusively from my stash, I estimate that I would have enough yarn to keep me busy for a year and a half to two years. And still I find myself wanting more.

The internet is a great resource. I wouldn't be knitting or sewing today if it weren't for the amazing online crafting community. I love Ravelry and reading blogs by people who are creating beautiful things. But I think there's a fine line between feeling inspired and feeling envy and discontent. Sometimes I just have to step back. I have to take a break from knitting podcasts and stop browsing yarn sites or Etsy. If I'm not constantly being exposed to all of these things that I think I need, it's easier to feel happy with what I have. I can look through my stash and get excited about the yarn I already own instead of planning what to buy next.

There are so many yarns out there that I'd love to try. There are so many patterns that I'd love to knit. I catch myself thinking things like, I really want that yarn. Having that yarn would make me so happy. It would feel awesome to be wearing that sweater. I wish I had that shawl. It's like I somehow believe that having more will make my life better. Of course knitting and wearing the finished object do make me happy, but not in a life-changing sort of way. Creating in general is a huge part of my life and I hope it will always be. I hope that when I'm old, I'll look back over my life and be thankful for that, but there are other things that are more important. And when I'm eighty, I probably won't think, "Goodness, I'm glad I bought that pretty sock yarn way back in 2015! It changed my life."

(Ha. Maybe this is getting a little dramatic for a post about yarn. Moving along...)

The world is full of gorgeous yarn and beautiful fabric. I would like to have more. But I already have so much. (I need to repeat that to myself whenever I start feeling discontented, because it's true: I'm so blessed and I should be thankful for what I have. Not just with yarn, but with everything in my life.) My drawer of handknits is overflowing...just how many cowls/hats/mitts do I actually need? I live in Virginia, not Antarctica.

Obviously I'm not going to stop knitting. I'm finally at the point now where I love the process of it. Of course there are still patterns that I want to make for myself, but I think I'm more open to knitting for other people than I used to be. It's a good way to still be knitting, but to do something nice for someone else. (Another bonus: the handknits drawer doesn't get fuller.)

And I'm not going to stop buying yarn. Buying yarn is one of my favorite things! :) I just want to be more selective with what I do buy.

I want to change my creative mindset a bit. I don't want to keep churning out stuff that I don't need, things that probably aren't going to get used often because I already have so much. Instead of worrying about knitting all the things, I want to focus on creating items that are better quality that I will use all the time and that will last forever. I need to learn that it's okay if something takes a while to make. Sometimes I think I have this fear of long-term projects* (which is also probably why I seem to avoid really thick books). It's better to take my time and do it right than to rush through and be disappointed.

That's the whole point of creating, honestly. Why would I take the time to make something rather than just go buy it at the store? Because if I do my best, I can (hopefully) make a higher quality, better fitting, longer-lasting item with special details. I can make a sweater that actually fits my long arms. I can make cute socks that don't get holes in them after a week (like the ones from Target tend to). I can make the inside of a skirt look as nice as the outside. I need to remember that. But just like I don't need to buy lots of clothes at the store, I don't need to make more clothes than I'll wear. Making things is supposed to be's not supposed to be an adaptation of the fast fashion world.

{I was also going to talk about US-made clothes, yarn, etc. but once again, this post is too long. So apparently there will be a third part...}

How about you? Do you take your time and make things right, or do you find yourself rushing through projects? How do you sort through materials and projects to decide what you want to focus on?

*This sounds ironic coming from someone who recently started a sock yarn blanket.


  1. I feel you on this one totally. I don't have much thoughts about it but I feel the same way...sometimes :P

    1. I feel this way on my most idealistic days...there are a lot of days when I'm like, "I need to buy all the yarn!" :) Just yesterday I was so tempted to order some yarn that was really discounted, even though they didn't have any colors in stock that I loved. Then I realized how silly it was to buy yarn that I don't need just because it was a really good price.


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