why i make stuff and why it's usually knitting

This week has been a lesson in all my shortcomings as a sewist. Maybe not even all of them, as I'm sure to discover more ways to screw things up. It amazes me sometimes just how many ways one can do something wrong.

Things are slowing down, work-wise, so the past few days I've spent some time working on projects and organizing my stuff. I've also been thinking about the things I'd really like to be sewing. I want to sew for my kids. Even though they have pretty much aged out of being Okay With Wearing Stuff Your Mom Made, I might still have some wiggle room in the categories of t-shirts, pajamas and clothes for dress-up occasions. 

I would also like to make some bags, and I don't just mean those simple tote bags for library books and grocery shopping, though I find plenty of use for those. I want to make really useful, sturdy bags with pockets and zippers and strong handles, bags I can carry my wallet and a water bottle and two knitting projects and a pen I don't have to dig for (I hate digging for pens in my purse). 

I'd really like to sew myself some clothes. 

I have a few quilting projects on the horizon, too. One for Anya that I barely started before Christmas before getting sidetracked. It's going to be simple and beautiful and she is waiting so patiently, I feel guilty for having put it down for so long.

I have a lot of reasons for wanting to sew all the things. I'm not really into fashion (obviously. I mean have you looked at me lately??) but I can't bum around in exercise clothes all the time and shopping for regular clothes makes me twitch. Shopping for clothes for my kids makes me angry. I have strong feelings about many aspects of modern clothing: buying things made in sweatshop conditions (it's practically unavoidable), gender stereotypes in kids' clothing, strange fitting issues…I've ranted about all this before and I won't repeat it here. (I know, whew!) I know that I can't avoid all of these problems. I can't make everything we wear, and even if I did, there are still some ethical and environmental questions about fabric production. But sewing at least puts some of the labor and creative control back into my hands.

I think the areas of sewing where my inexperience shows has less to do with the execution itself than all the zillions of decisions you have to make before you sew a single stitch. Choosing patterns, sizes, fabric, thread, making sure your machine is clean and oiled (I have learned the consequences of skipping this step the hard way more than once!), using the right kind of needle, checking your tension, to use the walking foot or not to use the walking foot? On and on it goes. It's exhausting. I want to make a couple of t-shirts for Anya, the plainest simplest kind you can imagine, and it has taken me weeks to gather supplies and read tutorials and I'm still nervous that I will once again end up with a wretched pile of scraps for the rag box and a few more gray hairs around my temples. 

This is why I keep coming back to knitting. Of course there are many ways to screw up knitting (I have executed most of them,  I think.) Of course there are lots of decisions to make about pattern and yarn choice. But you get to the process so much sooner. The prep work for knitting doesn't involve machines and oil and traipsing through the craft store for six different notions. You just have your needles and yarn and off you go. If you're ready to start, you knit. If you're not ready to start, you knit anyway because of the whole gauge swatch thing. It's more about the process than the prep, and I think sewing is the other way around.

Daniel wants a hat with stars on a blue, blue sky. He chose these colors.


Anonymous said…
Those are beautiful colors and they go together so well!


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