05
Oct

What Does Slow Fashion October Mean to You?

Written by Sarah. Posted in design, knits, long reads

Slow fashion has been on my mind a lot recently and I’m very glad that Karen Templer is at the helm with Slow Fashion October. If you know me, you’re probably aware of the fact that this concept is really important to my wardrobe. I’ve been dedicating my knitting and sewing to making pieces that are really functional and will last me a very long time and I’m really trying to kick that into overdrive.

Knitting time. #knittersofinstagram #brooklyntweed #hawser #26andcrafting

A photo posted by Sarah Hurwitz (@knityorkcity) on

For me, slow fashion is all about rejecting the fast fashion industry that exists today. I am not a very good sewist but I feel a strong connection with the women (and it is over 80% female) who make clothing every day for meager wages in unsafe living conditions. For me, it is a privilege to make clothing. For some, it is their only option. When I made my Alder dress, I ripped out so many seams and the collar is just a mess. After the sweat and back bending that went into that piece, I have never had more respect for the women that make t-shirts that are sold for $5.

Slow fashion is a reminder to me that EVERY piece of clothing from the couture runway to the wonky homemade to the Walmart bargain bin is handmade.

I want to use this month to plan the pieces that I really need, to dedicate myself to learning the skills that I’ll use to make them, and for gathering tips from other makers. Creating a handmade wardrobe is hard work. I feel very limited in terms of my time and a bit in materials and skill level (certainly when it comes to sewing) but seeing how others do it and which garments they choose to make is a huge inspiration to me. I’m also so interested in seeing what Slow Fashion means to others. It’s clearly political for me but for others it’s about living with intention or making clothing for body types that the industry ignores or it’s purely the challenge of creating everything.

Are you participating in Slow Fashion October? What are your biggest tips for growing a handmade wardrobe?

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07
Feb

Knitting in the Digital Age

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, long reads

You have to admit that it’s pretty ironic that in our modern times, DIY is making a huge comeback. Shouldn’t we be wearing flaming clothes and eating re-hydrated meals? Yet here we are, knee deep in blogs dedicated to canning and sock darning.

vintage knitting book

You’ve heard the old refrain: The internet changed everything. These skills that were once dying out can be passed around in a non-vertical way (by vertical I mean from generation to generation). Ravelry is a virtual knitting circle with millions of members and we can connect through blogs and Twitter and instagram. And now that we have all kinds of knitters (sock knitters, yarn bombers, toy makers), we can really get out a wide range of patterns. To me, this is the best time for knitting because we can get an endless choice in patterns, materials, and education.

Of course, I am a young person. There have been lots of waves of crafting before this one. Think of the war effort, trends like macrame, and even couture knits of the 80s. And here’s the thing, as we’ve moved further into the future, hand-made goods have become less respected. Maybe back then a hand knit sweater was given more appreciation than one today. Or do we appreciate it more since we aren’t living as tangibly as before?

Basically, what I’m trying to get at is a question and this question is: Do you think we’re in the heyday of crafting? Or was there something about it that was better (more elite? more dedication? more respect?) in a different time period? How does the digital world relate to handmade goods?

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21
Nov

Thankful

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, life, long reads

knitting againI’m knitting again!

I’m a sentimental person but I hate the obligatory “What are you thankful for?” that happens this time of year. I’m not really spiritual so I don’t know who I’m thanking for some coincidences in my life. At the same time, I’m well aware that I can’t take credit for all of the happiness that’s come to me. I really like to refer to the way I feel as lucky. Somehow the stars have aligned and things are good. That being said, giving up knitting last week was really difficult for me. By Thursday, I was having dreams about binding off intricate and gorgeous color work sweaters. Reading blogs or looking through knitting books made my heart heavy. But at the same time, sacrificing a little bit made me think about a lot of things and, in the spirit of the season, I am pretty thankful.

First of all, I’m thankful that knitting is in my life. I’m not sure I’d have the little sanity left in my without it. After I picked up knitting ten years ago, I went back and forth, sometimes not making anything for long periods of time. Over the past three or four years, knitting has become a huge part of who I am. I know I kept returning to it because I’ve always loved making things, be it with pen and paper or words or lights and film, I’m a maker. This is the best way I can make things and I’m so grateful that I’ve found it.

I’m thankful for how amazing and supportive everyone is. That means you lovely readers and all of my knitting friends. I’ve been complaining up a storm on Twitter (sorry, I’m Jewish. If something hurts, you’re going to hear about it) and not only has everyone tolerated me but they’ve given great advice. It really feels amazing that people I haven’t met in real life are asking how I’m feeling. You’re all fab. Of course, my family is always making sure that I’m not pushing it and Jon has been really strict so I don’t re-injure myself. As much as it’s driven me crazy, I’m grateful for that too.

And, as always, I’m grateful for my health. I’ve got plenty of issues when it comes to health but I’m really glad things aren’t worse. I’m so thankful that I’m not still having to take a knitting break. And if my wrists were still bad, if I had to get surgery or something (oh lord, knock on wood times a million), I’m thankful that I have healthcare and all of those things above.

I’d really be lost without my needles. And, as always, when times get tough, I know my friends will be there to help me through! I love the knitting community and I if it weren’t for you, I’d just be a crazy lady complaining about socks.

What’re you thankful for? (I mean, I have to ask.)

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12
Nov

KNITTING PAINS AND HOW TO HANDLE THEM

Written by Sarah. Posted in life, long reads

First off, I am in no way a medical professional so if you’ve found this blog post because you’re Googling pain associated with knitting, go talk to your doctor.

As I mentioned last week, my wrists have been pretty unhappy for a few days. I’ve been having some awful aches in my wrists, elbows, and sometimes a bit shooting into my upper arms. When I tweeted about my plight, I was immediately met with calls to rest, ice, and stretch along with a dose of Advil. I take after the stoic women in my family who refuse to see a doctor unless something is definitely bleeding or has been broken for three weeks so it is all the more reason to take care of myself.

I think it’s important to address this here because it’s something that I haven’t dealt with so seriously up until this point and something that less experienced knitters don’t tend to think about at all. We have to take care of our little mitts. These are the only wrists we’ve got. Knitting is a full contact sport and can cause long-term damage.

wrists

I’ve been in serious denial that I was having pain related to knitting until I had to give myself time off. I was under the impression that I hadn’t knit very much last week so I didn’t know what caused all of this trouble. I stopped knitting on Thursday and was feeling better Saturday afternoon. I decided that I’d knit a little bit but, big mistake, the pain was at its worst Saturday night where I couldn’t lift a glass of water without wincing. I often sleep wrong and pull muscles in my neck and I have a job that requires heavy lifting of cumbersome pieces. I like to think I’m always lifting with my knees and being careful but other people have been injured and I’ve definitely come home sore on more than one occasion. That being said, I do spend a lot of time with my needles and many designers have given me the side eye when I tell them this is definitely not a knitting injury. Whether it is or not, maybe I’ll never know but either way, it’s time to treat this the way it deserves.

In my research and reading, here’s my best suggestions for avoiding any wrist pains ever:

1. Posture – I knit after a long day at work. I knit on the couch, sprawled out while watching a movie. Sometimes I knit crammed on a packed rush hour train. It’s really easy to forget proper posture when I’m tired but that’s the first step down a long road to permanent wrist pain. Sit up straight with your feet on the floor. Having good posture is important for life outside of knitting, too. Sitting up straight at work and having a chair that is the correct height is a good start and will help keep knitting from exacerbating the situation. (There are great posture tips from a physical therapist here and here!)

2. Stretch – There are so many stretching guides for knitters. You know what to do, stretch your fingers out and push them back towards your wrists lightly. Squeeze your elbows down to your wrist. (Here are some great stretches to keep your fingers limber. Thanks for passing those along, Linda!)

3.  Relax – Knitting all day isn’t good for you. It’s really tempting and, let’s be honest, sometimes you have to finish a sample in time or you haven’t had time to knit all week and Sunday is free of plans! Be careful! A lot of you have suggested switching between projects with different gauges but more importantly, just put the needles down. Give yourself nice breaks to stretch and relax. Go outside or eat a sandwich or read a goddamn book. I’m going to go ahead and say don’t switch from knitting to cruising Ravelry. Typing is not going to give your wrists a break.

Now, in addition to the top three suggestions, here’s how I’ve been treating my sore wrists:

1. Support Gloves – I was wearing my Lion Brand wrist support gloves (pictured above) after the pain initially started. They’re tight and feel like your wrist is getting a hug. Some people say that if they start to feel pain, they can continue knitting after throwing a pair of these. Now that the pain’s been with me for a few days, I decided to get some more serious gloves that are a bit rigid. I invested in these Futuro gloves that are very comfortable and seem to be helping me heal.

2. Serious rest – I’m not talking about a break here and there. I’ve stopped knitting for as long as I need. It’s really difficult. I don’t know how to sit on the couch without doing something. Non-knitters must live awful, boring lives.

3. Advil – My tolerance for pain is about zero out of ten. Research says that gingers are more sensitive to pain so it’s either genetic or I’m a gigantic baby. Either way, Advil brings down any swelling and I can at least go through my day at work without wincing so hard. Don’t forget that just because you’ve now forgotten about the pain that it’s gone. Don’t over do it!

REMEMBER, tingling or numbness is bad. You’ve definitely got to stop and see a doctor then.

Speaking of doctors, I should probably be visiting one myself. Not being able to knit is one of my biggest fears being realized over the last few days as being a complete possibility. I know that is very dramatic but even just having to put my needles away for one day has made me so sad. Knitting is the one thing that I look forward to every day. It makes me rush out the door at 5:00 and I spend every spare moment tweeting to knitter friends, reading craft blogs, and looking at Ravelry. You can’t realize how precious those moments of meditation and relaxation and fulfillment are until you’re without them even for a short period of time.

So I promise, knitting gods, if my little hands heal up quickly,  I promise that I’ll never treat them badly again. I’ll keep the knitting spirit all year long. That’s a promise we should all keep.

What do you do when your wrists start to ache? Have you ever had any bad knitting injuries?

ps. Happy birthday to my mom! A wonderful knitter who knows a thing or two about over-doing it and hurting herself. <3

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04
Nov

On Perfectionism

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, life, long reads

satin

I’m afraid to talk about perfectionism and knitting. Because it involves me admitting that I’m not a perfectionist in other aspects of my life. I feel like it’s not good to go around telling people that you don’t care about getting things absolutely right, it makes you sound lazy. But perfectionists can be insufferable micromanagers. So maybe it’s ok to not be one. Either way, I suppose it’s time that I come clean. I am not a perfectionist.

When it comes to crafting, though, I’ve had a tough time deciding whether or not I’m a perfectionist. I always used to think that I was one. I mean, making is my raison d’être. I’ve ripped out days and days of work on sweaters and agonized over finding the perfect shade of yellow merino. But then again, how many times have I picked up however many neckline stitches that I wanted or allowed my stripes to jog in the round? How often have I said, “It has some ease so it’ll be fine” or “Blocking will fix that weird part” or “I’m just going to do it this way and I’m sure no one will notice”?

Despite these things that I let slide, I don’t think that the quality of work is lacking. While I believe that hand-made garments turn out as good if not better than their store bought counterparts, I don’t expect my work to be spot on all of the time. And I’m ok with that. I’m not a machine so there are bound to be little things here and there that are not right. So maybe I’m not a perfectionist?

I realized after I tried to teach Jon to knit (a fun experiment when we first started going out) that perfectionists don’t make good knitters. He’s a true perfectionist in all aspects of his life. (“Putting something away doesn’t just mean shoving it under the sink,” he said to me just yesterday.) He worked at a snail’s pace on his scarf, struggling to make every stitch just right. And while it’s nice to make something that looks good, if you got upset every time you dropped a stitch or had the wrong gauge or missed a stitch of colorwork, all of your hair would fall out and you’d burn your yarn while it’s still on the needles. If I went back and fixed every mistake I ever made, I’d never finish everything and I’d hate knitting.

I used to think that getting things absolutely right would be more important to me as I got better at knitting (we all tell beginners not to worry about making something gorgeous) but I haven’t found that to be true. For me, knitting is a balance of doing things well and letting things slide. I’ve definitely been working on precision when it comes designing (thank goodness for tech editors) but at the same time, sometimes you have to just move forward and trust that everything will come together in the end.

Do perfectionists make better knitters because they are exacting? Or does perfectionism make knitting harder because, well, we’re only human? Can you be detail-oriented without being a perfectionist? Are you a perfectionist?

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