Why I love a handmade wardrobe
The morning air is becoming crispier by the week and the bright summer evenings feel like a distant memory. Kate O’Sullivan is preparing for winter with some lovely handmade sweaters. Making one’s own clothes can be a long process, but the warm satisfaction at the end is well worth it.
I love this time of year. It’s like the weather has issued a call to arms to knit faster and knit more as cold winds start to make us reach for scarves again. This month I reached for my handmade sweaters as I struggled to keep warm while sat typing at my desk. It’s official; winter is coming. There’s always a little flutter in my tummy of excitement as I dig out woollens that have been carefully tucked away for a few warmer months.
Making your own clothes is a satisfying (and yes, sometimes frustrating) process. I’m about 2 rows away from finishing a cardigan I’ve been slogging through for over a year, and I can’t wait. I know I will love it already because I made it; it’s really that simple. I have an emotional investment in my cardigan that goes far deeper than a purchase I might have made for a warm garment otherwise. I know how much effort it took to make and with each stitch, I’ve felt a little skip of excitement about the way I will pair it with my favourite jeans and skirts to become a wardrobe staple. I’m ready for a new favourite sweater.
I have a few precious hand-knit sweaters now. I take my time over them, agonising over what yarn to use and which pattern I want to commit to for the months ahead. I have a loose boxy sweater, a fitted long sleeve sweater and this, my Hickory, a design from Cecily Glowik Macdonald.
I love Cecily’s designs. I can always see how I would wear them, a lot, every day. That’s the tipping point for me as a knitter that flips me from a fan of the design to a knitter of the pattern. Knowing I will wear and wear something makes me much more likely to want to invest the time, effort and resources needed. For many, it’s the technical skills you might learn or perhaps just to have an object of sheer beauty. I think I’ve made those decisions in the past but found the resulting finished items had a habit of being gifted to more appreciative friends and family. My sweaters, though? They stay with me.
I knit the Hickory with the idea of a layer to wear over the long sleeve tees that are a bit of a wardrobe staple for me. I love the deep cowl the most. I also love the fact I could modify the length so that it sits where I feel the most comfortable. I’m tall and a blast of cold air on my back each time I bend over is a special frustration I’m sure many of you can relate to. That’s the joy of my hand knit sweater; I made it for me and my body.
The yarn was a chunky Debbie Bliss base that’s now discontinued. Rialto Chunky would be a good substitute though or I also would highly recommend Erika Knight’s Maxi Wool. I wanted a sweater in a hurry, so a chunky knit was just the ticket. The lace detail saved it from just adding bulk, though, a smart design decision.
If you want to think more about a handmade wardrobe, I’m sure you will enjoy Slow Fashion October that Karen Templer of Fringe Association is hosting. She’s an incredibly inspiring crafter and her community’s response to this prompt is beyond educational.
If you’re thinking about knitting a sweater, you might like to head on over to the Sweater Techniques and Tips board I created with Love Knitting over on Pinterest.
Last updated: October 21st, 2016.