Sunday, September 01, 2013

Daisy Monsters in the Closet

Swatching the Summardaar Cardigan stitch pattern, aka Daisy Monster
While no one was looking, I performed another clutter clearance. Goodbye odd paperback books I will never read again, saggy baggy shoes which I fell out of, and assorted beyond-redemption tattered / faded / poorly-fitting clothing. It was a good feeling. And Oxfam thanked me.
In the midst of it, with all my clothes in a multi-coloured heap on the bed, I suddenly realised that the reason I never have the hand-knit I need to complete an outfit is the relative speed of knitting and sewing.
For example, at least two years ago (it was probably three) I decided to knit a turquoise laceweight silky a-line cardigan. It would look lovely with my wide-legged aubergine trousers and my magenta ankle-length linen skirt. So I bought the yarn and set it aside while I finished whatever it was I was knitting at the time. And now here we are, X years later. The trousers shrank in the wash / wore out, while the skirt felt out-dated, was too large at the waist, and went to the charity shop many seasons ago because it made me feel frumpy.
Using Alba Yarn, doubled, on 6.5 mm needles
Luckily, I never cast on the laceweight cardigan. It would go with nothing I own nowadays, and when I look at the pattern I see “mother of the bride”. The yarn is lovely, and one day I am sure its prince will come. But what I realised – dun dun duuun! - is that my starting point has been upside down. I can sew a skirt in a weekend, in fact in a day if I really need to. But knitting a cardigan takes me weeks, if not months, if not years. Instead of knitting to match my current clothing, I should make clothing to match my completed knits – duh!
And if I take that approach, I might finally have the chance to knit the things I really really like, and really really want to knit, instead of dragging myself through the torture of knitting compromise garments that “should go with everything” and never do!
This approach worked with Betty Jean McNeil. Even now I am planning an orange skirt so that I can wear Betty Jean more often – hooray!
Two strands green, or one strand yellow with one green?
So instead of looking at the Summardaar pattern and thinking “Oh how lovely – I had better knit it in navy blue so it will work with my jeans”, I have the option to look at the colour-chart and think “OMG – sizzling mustard! Grass green! Ruby red! Oh wow – which one of those do I like best? I could make a whole pile of skirts to go with my new cardigan!”
Held up to the light - lacey!
What's your approach to wardrobe planning? Do you make the things you want to make or the things you want to wear?

P.S.  The above swatches were just an exercise in working the stitch pattern.  I concluded that it is hell on my wrist and produces a fairly stiff, thick but airy fabric.  Perfect for a blanket!  But if I am going to make a cardigan, it had better not be in a baby colour and it needs to fit closely.  Still thinking!


beate grigutsch said...

there is not much planning.......
mostly i get inspired by the fabric in my huge stash from the years i tried to make a live from sewing. so i have a lot separates and dresses in wild designes.
but i´m very brave with wearing strange color or pattern combinations tied together with accessoires.
and of cause there is no knitting involved yet.

ravelledsleeve said...

I don't knit a lot of cardigans/jumpers, because I agonise so much about whether the finished garment will suit me and what size to do - it's so much easier just to knit shawls!

Carolyn said...

That is a terrific idea! I need to follow your example and be smarter with wardrobe planning like this :)

annieloveslinen said...

Hey there Roo, long time lurker first time poster. Love your blog and send warm thought to you an your FL.

I'm totally getting you re planning. I've spent ages making a top only to have a 'what was I thinking moment?', I can't wear sleevless, nope, nosiree. I gets carried away by my imagination, although the journey is delicious, no?

As for knitting, I have two words for you: Carol Feller, she is amazing and her cardi's are to die for, she's inspired me to have a go and I haven't knitted for donkey's years, watch this space.

Seriously, check out her free short rows class on Craftsy, you can see her beautiful garments there too.

Good luck!

Rachel-Lou said...

there is no planning! my blog title is pretty apt in that respect - I do just make everything on whatever whim is passing through my head. It does make dressing myself a bit of a challenge though.

MaryinTN said...

Wardrobe planning-- what's that? is more my approach it seems. Actually I tend to like classics that last for years but what I knit are items that can be finished socks or scarves or shawls or hats. I finally finished the pair of socks cast on back around 1998 this past winter as part of a KAL on Ravelry. They are a lovely sea glass green and matched a sweater/jumper of the same color that wore out about 10 years ago. I have nothing that matches them now, but they do wear nicely with stonewashed jeans. I really like the swatch pattern for Summardaar but if it is bulky and stiff it won't work for my waist. Like the idea of a baby blanket in that stitch.

LinB said...

Sew what I want, thrift to fill in wardrobe gaps and for basics (I can alter an already-made item from the thrift store easier than sewing it from scratch, plus I cannot buy fabric and notions for that little cash). Knit what I like, and sew to make something to match, unless I'm aiming at Crazy Lady Who Wears Clown Clothes All the Time.

Giselle said...

Your post is just the ticket for me. My wardrobe has been crying out for a more structured approach of what goes in it, and what needs to get discarded. I just CANNOT have any more single pieces that don't go with anything else. It has to stop!
I LOVE your suggestion of turquoise and aubergine and magenta, or orange with this green. Those sound absolutely lovely!
I asked friends to take photos of me in some outfits but I haven't got very far on that yet. I love to knit copious amounts of garments and accessories but my sewing isn't as far advanced. I definitely need to develop a better eye for what goes with what. I tend to combine so many things with black or grey items, it's gotten really boring.
I find your blog post very inspiring, thanks so much! (I need to blog something along those lines)