Stash Less Challenge

Stash Less Challenge #5 – Make it work

The ongoing Stash Less Challenge on the Craft Sessions blog has inspired me to rethink my approach to crafting. The challenge invites us, as makers, to be mindful of how and why we accumulate the materials – fabric, yarn, fibre, books and supplies – that feed our crafting.

You can find my previous posts in this series here.


The Stash Less Challenge continues. Felicia writes of those clothes in your wardrobe that are just not quite right: “Things I would wear if only they were a bit more X or a bit less Y or if they had shorter Z.”

I know the feeling. 

So, the challenge this time is to pick three items from your wardrobe and make them work. Right, I’m in!

 

Super simple wardrobe fixes


Pilling knitwear

Pilling knitwear is actually ridiculously easy to fix if you have a little patience and a lint remover. In the photo above, I have gone over the right side of the cardigan but not the left.

You want to make sure the garment lies flat. Then, simply run the lint remover over the pilling area. I use one of these things.

Toe holes in tights

This is a quick and easy way to fix toe holes in tights – no darning required! It takes a little off the length, but I find that isn't a problem.

With the tights turned inside out sew a seam a little further in from the hole, following the curve of the original seam. Use a zig-zag stitch with a short stitch length. It is also worth using a sewing machine needle for knits and reducing the pressure of the sewing machine foot. Then, cut off the end bit.

 

Make it work – starting again

Now, this jumper.

The pattern is the Imago pullover from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 9, knit in Lofoten Wool’s 3-ply un-dyed Norwegian wool. I love the pattern. I love the wool. I don’t like the fit.

It has been lying around for months, all done apart from a few loose ends that need weaving in. I had the feeling it was a little too tight around the hips – and it is. While it technically fits, it does not have enough ease around the hips to hang in the intended A-line shape. It catches on the clothes underneath and rides up in baggy curves at the back.

Good thing I just had a practice run cutting into my knits and re-assembling the bottom part, because now I have to do that again. On a large scale this time. This jumper needs reshaping.

It will take some time. It means doing the same thing over. It means admitting a mistake. But it also means not letting it get the better of me.

I am a knitter, after all, I am used to slow-growing garments. Let the unravelling begin!

 

Previous posts in the Stash Less Challenge series:

 

Stash Less Challenge #4 – No shopping

The ongoing Stash Less Challenge on the Craft Sessions blog has inspired me to rethink my approach to crafting. The challenge invites us, as makers, to be mindful of how and why we accumulate the materials – fabric, yarn, fibre, books and supplies – that feed our crafting.

 

#4: Stop shopping

The challenge is to stop shopping. Or rather, as Felicia of the Craft Sessions explains, it means no window shopping. No popping in to your favourite shop just to have a look, no looking in on a sale, no browsing through the latest lookbooks or new releases, no drooling over items you want to get some day. It means only buying for specific needs or projects you have on the go now.

At first I thought not shopping, as in no thoughtless purchases, should be fairly easy. Mentally, at least, I’ve already started down that path. For me the Stash Less Challenge has evolved into an ethical wardrobe pledge, exploring whether I can in fact make and mend enough to avoid those thoughtless last-minute purchases. Resisting the temptation to buy things instantly and instead waiting till I actually have the time, space or need for them, is something I’m already continually practicing.

But shopping sits deep in us. Why is it so hard to stop shopping? What is that temptation for the new and beautiful about?


Shopping as a cultural default

Shopping and buying are not necessarily the same things. While buying is trading goods for money, shopping is an activity and mentality deeply ingrained in our society.

Shopping involves a longing for things we don’t have. Shopping means looking around for the best available option. Shopping means constantly comparing – comparing items against each other, but also our own bodies, life-styles and surroundings with those presented to us through the imagery of advertising and product displays.

And yet the lure of the new quickly wears off. There is often no lasting satisfaction in what we buy because at the end of the day we are still just our own imperfect selves living our regular lives.

The self is empty, wrote psychologist Philip Cushman in 1990: we are continually seeking to fill up that emptiness through consuming goods and experiences. He describes the post world-war II era as one where individual’s enjoyment and fulfilment became the single most valued aspect of life. At the same time the American economy became one dependent on the continual production and consumption of nonessential goods.

Economist Robert Reich’s documentary Inequality for All backs up this claim: 2/3 of the US economy is driven by consumer spending. (You can watch it here.)

That is the dark side of shopping. It is a paradox: shopping feeds our economy but ruins our planet through over-consumption. It appeals to our emotional needs but leaves no lasting satisfaction.


Shifting from shopping to purposefully buying

You may find, like me, you actually spend more time shopping than you think. Whether or not you in fact buy that much is a slightly different question.

I thought I was hardly shopping at all, but if I include the time I spend absentmindedly browsing for things I’d like some day – well, there lies a gold mine of time and energy which could be spent elsewhere.

In not shopping there is potential to shift from dreaming to doing, from the lure and anticipation of some day to getting real about where you are now. If that is a challenge you want to take on, stop shopping and celebrate the perfectly imperfect instead. That’s where you are now.

Don’t let a shopping mentality distract you from your core purpose: having enough and enjoying what you have. But remember, the aim isn’t necessarily to stop buying. It is about being mindful of how you shop and why. It is a question of how you spend your time and what you spend your money on. And, in a way, who you choose to give your money to.

 

Previous posts in the Stash Less Challenge series:

Stash Less Challenge #3 – My making list

The ongoing Stash Less Challenge on the Craft Sessions blog has inspired me to rethink my approach to crafting. The challenge invites us, as makers, to be mindful of how and why we accumulate the materials – fabric, yarn, fibre, books and supplies – that feed our crafting.

 

#3: Create a making list

I have a vision of a beautifully curated wardrobe, with clothes I can trust were produced under decent working conditions without devastating the natural environment. Clothes made to last, that fit me well and suit my everyday life style. Just exactly enough items and no more.

In reality, this is where I am: Most of my clothes are not made to last, many do not really fit me well and I generally don’t have a clue where or how they were made. I don’t have much money to spend, but I do have an assortment of fabrics and yarns in varying qualities and amounts.

Right. Where to start?

 

Balancing needs and wants, utility and joy

There are things I need which I could make, like tops and shirts. I have materials I’d love to make use of, like the fabrics from my Grandma. How can I use as much as possible of what I’ve already got to make things I need and will love using?

Making is also about enjoying the process. I love learning new crafty skills, though when my brain is tired and my thinking slow I’d rather wind down with some mindless knitting than be scratching my head over pattern construction.

So, I’m looking for a balance: skill-stretching, creative meditation and utility.

My making list

Mend

  • Patch jeans (need + creative learning)
  • Jacket pocket (need + just get it done)
  • Skirt lining (need + just get it done)
  • Darn tights (need + just get it done)
  • Darn socks (need + creative meditation)
  • Cuffs on wool mittens (need + creative learning)

Make

 

  • Summer dresses for the Little One (need + creative learning). Pattern: Straightgrain’s Tinny dress. Fabric: from Grandma.
  • Wool cardigan for the Little One (need + creative meditation). Pattern: do it myself. Assortment of wool from my yarn basket.
  • Woolly socks for the Little One (need + creative meditation). Pattern: as above, Sandnes garn’s free sock pattern. Wool from my yarn basket.

 

  • Cover for the ironing board (need + just get it done). Don't need a pattern. Fabric: from my stash.
  • Curtains (need + just get it done). Don't need a pattern. Fabric: ?

 

Back to reality

Can I make all the things on my list in one year?

Ha ha! I doubt it.

The interesting question is whether I can make and mend enough to fill some of the gaps in my wardrobe and avoid those last minute thoughtless purchases from some cheap chain store. Thoughtful purchases are okay (if I can afford them), it's the thoughtless ones I want to avoid on this slow journey towards a sustainable wardrobe.

 

Previous posts in the Stash Less Challenge series: