Recently I’ve realized that I am at a point in my life where many of my current projects require PRACTICE, repetition, and solid habits. Maybe its the theme of this decade (my 30’s)?
The things that I’m interested in taking forward in both my creative work and my personal life are the sorts of things that don’t come easily or quickly. These kinds of projects require daily or weekly attention, a load of work, and seem to develop so very much more slowly that I’d prefer!
A few things I’m working on personally are my posture (pilates), fitness (regular running), and re-learning piano (I just started lessons). In my knitting and design I am focussed on building skills and experimenting within stranded colourwork, as Alexa and I put together our next collection.
Perhaps somewhere between the professional and the personal floats my grand ambition to develop a more interesting wardrobe for myself. For as long as I can remember I have bemoaned my lack of an ‘interesting’ wardrobe. Despite being a designer, my clothes have always been woefully boring, and yet I’ve always admired women and men who let their personalities and playful sides show through clothing.
As I write this post, I realize I have a load of stylish friends who inspire me; Ysolda puts together quirky yet thoughtful combinations and wears loads of hand-made items, Jess of Ginger Twist Studio rocks vintage pieces alongside a stunning array of knits, and the lovely ladies of PomPom never fail to impress with their whimsical mix of delicious colours and modern designs.
Sonya Philip, creator of 100 Acts of Sewing
I recently met a woman who REALLY knocks me out with her fashion sense and creativity. At the Edinburgh Yarn Festival this year I ran into my current style idol, Sonya Philip in person! I’ll have to admit I butted right in to her conversation with ‘OMG I LOVE YOUR WORK SO MUCH’ in true awkward fan style. Luckily I ran into her later on and apologized!
Sonya is a San Francisco-based artist and the creator of a series of sewing patterns, called 100 Acts of Sewing. In 2012 she began a project to sew 100 projects. In her words: “What began as a personal challenge to make 100 dresses in a year, has developed into a larger exploration of praxis.” Read more on her site.
Sonya’s Instagram feed is one of my very favourite. Ever. It just makes me crazy happy! There are many things that I love about her work, but the thing I want to focus on is PRACTICE.
With the 100 Acts of Sewing patterns, Sonya has created basic patterns which erase any barriers to creation. It is in each person’s use of these patterns, their curation of fabrics, pattern, and details where these patterns really shine. For me, Sonya’s work is an invitation to play, to practice, to become proficient. Not to BE perfect, BE proficient, or HAVE the ideal thing instantaneously, but to create, step by step, day by day, and revel in the joy of this process and its results.
Sonya wears her designs so well! I find her combinations of colour, pattern, texture so joyous and inspiring. How can I drool over this endless source of inspiration, but then pull on the same jeans & tank top every day?! Well… because it is a long process, a daily or weekly practice, to go from boring shop-bought wardrobe to interesting hand-made wardrobe. And to be honest (and make my excuses!), my kids are 2 and 3.5, so life is only just now becoming a tiny bit easier!
an interesting wardrobe for me
So there it is, a 30’s life goal … making and wearing clothes that speak a little bit more of me, who I am, and what I love. I’ll be starting with sweaters (naturally!), and moving from there. I made these swingy tank tops last year, and I think I’ll make a few more because they’re what I really love to wear under my sweaters.
To move beyond jeans, I think the sewing project that I need to ‘nail’ is trousers (I suppose that 7 years in Scotland means I’m converting from ‘pants’!). So I’m hoping to find or develop a perfect pattern for a) high waisted wide leg trousers and b) slim trousers, like a jeans fit but made in other fabrics. Any suggestions for likely sewing patterns that might fit this bill? I’ve got some great woollens collected to get started on…
As for the sweaters I have planned… Well it’s all about yokes for me for at least another year! I’ve got A LOT of sweaters planned for me. In the past I’ve had very few handmade sweaters for myself, but recently I acquired a hand operated knitting machine. I’ll talk more about this useful tool in a future post, but suffice it to say that it’s allowing me to complete some sweaters for my own wardrobe, something I have seldom had time for in the past few years.
I may work on adding to my wardrobe in ‘outfits’; one sweater plus one pair of trousers. Conceptually, I don’t want to do a lot of different things, I want to take 2 or 3 basic patterns: our Strange Brew yoke sweater recipe, and two styles of trousers, and work various iterations within these basic patterns. There are SO MANY ways I could do a yoke sweater, right?
Here are a few of the recent yokes I’ve made, but this has only just whet my appetite for more!
And with one or two trouser styles, and a stack of different colours and textures I am sure I will be able to build a handmade wardrobe that I find both interesting and practical. Inspired by Sonya Philip’s iterative exploration of simple basics, I will work within the canvas that I’m loving (the yoke sweater), and practice; again and again.
This amazing green has been especially calling to me lately. Next year’s ‘Christmas Sweater’ is going to be this vivid ‘Vintage’ green with pinks and deeper greens at the yoke. I swear, I probably told everybody I met at EYF this year about this green sweater idea I was obsessed with… So after talking it up so much, it had better be good!
Do you have grand master plans for a handmade wardrobe? Or to bring more of your personal style out through the clothes that you choose to buy?
Tin Can Knits sweaters that make great wardrobe additions: