Lately I’ve written about trying to get rid of all the unnecessary stuff filling our closet (read about it here and here). I ended up recycling about half my clothes and for the first time I could actually even part with pieces that I knitted myself. They have held a sentimental value to me – there’s something about spending hours and hours creating something that makes the pieces more than just mere clothes – that has stopped me from throwing them away, even if I never used them and all they did was take up space in my closet.
Why some pieces become instant favorites and others are left unused is a bit of a mystery to me. When you buy a piece of clothing in the store you see immediately how it fits, how the fabric drapes and how it really looks like. But when you choose a pattern to knit, all of this is left to be seen. Sometimes I have picked a beautiful pattern and carefully chosen the yarn and the color to match, but the end result is nothing like I imagined in my head. Even the littlest thing can transform the whole piece from a hit to miss – the yarn pills immediately, the fabric is stiff and doesn’t drape well or the opposite when it doesn’t hold its intended shape, the sizing is off and so on.
In the beginning of January I wrote about my favorite knitting projects of year 2014 and realized that 4 of my favorite knitted sweaters were gray. Interesting. It made me reevaluate my wardrobe as well as my knitting habits. Why do I keep knitting colorful things when I mostly just use different shades of gray and extremely muted “autumn” colors? And why do I knit elaborate lace and intricate cables when I keep reusing my plain stockinet stitch cardigan over and over again?
My daily “uniform” consists of knitted cardigans and sweaters, and I have the skills and means to knit almost anything I want – any design, any material, any color – but still I often find myself in the situation so familiar to all women: I have nothing to wear! Or more accurately nothing I want to wear. I was wondering about this when I realized that I that I usually only think what I want to knit instead of what I want to wear and need to have in my closet. The same way as I buy clothes that I would love to wear but actually never do.
I seem to choose what to knit based on technical challenge (I find excess of plain Stockinette to be mind-numbingly boring especially if it’s knitted flat and I have to purl my way back after every row), such as complex cable designs (that don't repeat too often but are still possible to be memorized) or other aspects that I find different and interesting though not always so wearable. I choose colors that I love looking at in the yarn store even though they might not be the colors for me. Sometimes I feel like I can't knit something in a specific color because the sample was knit in it or someone already used my idea on Ravelry and I don't want to appear to be copying them (I need professional help). So I buy lovely shades of red, and yellow, and deep emerald green yarn and blue (I've written about my aversion to blue earlier) and then I wonder why I never wear what I knit while reusing the same gray sweater.
When I first joined Ravelry I queued many beautiful lace shawls only soon to notice that there's no point for me to knit them as I never wear them. (Photo sources: top left, top right, bottom left, bottom right.)
Photo source Garnstudio
I’ve now been trying to rethink my knitting as part of the capsule wardrobe concept and give my future projects the same requirements as the other clothes in my closet: they need to be wearable, match my other clothes so that they can be worn as a part of multiple different outfits, and they should last for more than one season (both regarding the quality and the design). I (almost) only buy yarn made of natural fibers – pure wool, cotton, alpaca, bamboo - but I still often shy away from the most expensive and luxurious yarns not daring to splurge on them even though they would be heaven to wear. But if I try to knit stuff that I will wear for years to come, why settle for inferior quality?
Having a baby has given me a perfect excuse to use all those yummy shades that I would love to use but know wouldn't really ever wear in reality. I now have an outlet to use my imagination and creativity but at the same time I can refrain to knitting only muted and gray colored things for myself.
This will become my new sweater...
...while I'm saving the colourful stuff for the baby.