I am at a place of stuck with my sweater.
The body is knit and I am halfway through the first sleeve.
I’m beginning to get an inkling that I will need a 3rd cone of yarn, but at the moment I still have a comfortable amount on the cone I’m working from.
I haven’t worked on it in a couple days – though I know exactly where I am, and what happens next.
I am halfway through the first sleeve.
The thing to do would be to continue down the sleeve.
That is the very next step.
But every time I reach for my knitting I hesitate. Something is not – quite – right.
I try my sweater on.
Trying on clothing you’ve made is a moment of truth. You’re body knows.
Your body knows the minute the fabric touches your skin, whether or not it works for you. Whether or not the time and effort have resulted in a garment you’ll love and wear.
Your brain can second guess, and justify, and explain away the short cuts you took because dinner, or drinks, or dishes, or Instagram were calling.
Your skin can only feel the shortcut – not the justification.
It’s then that you know, if the shortcut worked. Or didn’t.
I try on my sweater with half a sleeve and know. Instantly.
I can feel the shortness of the body – not quite long enough. Reaffirming the need for that 3rd cone.
I can feel the neck – wide. Low. Fussy.
And now we’ve hit the source of my knitting hesitation.
I started knitting too deep in the yoke. My cast on was too long.
So now the edge curls, and the sweater clings to my shoulders in a way that I am not looking for in this sweater.
I tried picking out the cast on and tried a tighter bind off. It’s a trick I’ve used a couple times before. In this instance, it helped, but did not fix the problem.
And so – the very next step is not “finish the sleeve.”
It is now “fix the yoke.”
Break the yarn.
Put the sleeve on a holder.
Pick up the neckline.
Reattach the yarn.
Fix the yoke.
(Find a 3rd cone.)
Return to the sleeve.
Each Wednesday, I take stock of the projects I’m working on.
I’m pretty sure I spent more time sorting through photos for this post and trying to whittle my selection down under half a dozen – then I’ll spend writing it.
I’ve taken hundreds of photos in the past week and a half. Some of them are ending up here, some on Instagram – but mostly they’re organizing themselves into stories & collections.
But the problem is, they’re not organizing themselves into chronological stories – the kind of stories that can be told while they’re happening. The photos I’m finding myself taking are organizing themselves into pattern-like stories – patterns in street art, and plant forms, in architecture and color, and funny street signs.
These are the kind of stories that can only be told after the fact – when you can get perspective, and see all the dots, before connecting them.
All that said, I do want to start using little stolen bits of time (waiting for coffee, or for food to come) to start sorting and sharing – before I get to the end of this trip, and find myself faces with an overwhelming number of thoughts and photos.
(Oh! And I also started swatching for a new sweater – looking forward and starting to plan for two 18 hour long train rides, from Oakland to Portland and back).
6 “top layers” (sweaters, over-shirts, etc)
That’s what my suitcase currently contains.
(Along with tights, toiletries, undergarments, computer, camera, etc.)
Traveling is kind of like a baggage-limit imposed capsule wardrobe experiment.
While NYC is bitterly cold, I’m spending the rest of my winter in the Bay Area, and Pacific Northwest, where it may be rainy, but at least it’s above freezing.
So, I’ve been dressing out of this suitcase since December 21st (when I moved out of my beloved apartment), and will be dressing out of it at least until I move back to NYC at the beginning of March (and possibly for awhile longer than that).
When it’s all packed away in a suitcase, it feels like a very small wardrobe for 10+ weeks.
But when I think about it, my self-made wardrobe project wardrobe ended at about 30 pieces by the end of the year-long project – but for most of the year, I had a much (much, much) smaller wardrobe.
It’s 20 pieces of clothing, which break down into:
2 coats (1 boiled wool, 1 light canvas, neither handmade)
2 pairs of jeans (1 black, 1 blue, neither handmade)
3 black tank tops (2 handmade, 1 store-bought)
2 reconstructed graphic t-shirts (both black)
2 plaid button up shirts (1 handmade Archer, 1 store-bought)
3 dresses (all store-bought)
2 skirts (both handmade)
2 sweaters (both handmade)
1 sweatshirt (store-bought)
1 light chiffon cropped jacket (store-bought; but actually passed along)
tights & socks in a variety of thicknesses
underwear, bras & pjs
However, getting to those 20 pieces of clothing was pretty heartbreaking. Packing away my pirate skirt, and black & white vine print skirt, (either of which would have single handedly taken up 1/4 of my suitcase space), with the knowledge that I wouldn’t get to see them again for months was kind of depressing.
And it was depressing in a way that packing away my entire wardrobe, for the self-made wardrobe project, didn’t feel like at all.
Creating a traveling capsule wardrobe felt a little bit like picking favorites, and a little bit like loosing the pieces I couldn’t take with me (even though they’ll obviously be there when I get back).
Unlike this time, with the self-made wardrobe all my clothes got packed away indiscriminately – and as I found out when I unpacked them, without even sorting them.
But packing for this trip involved packing away clothes that I love, want to have with me, and would love to be wearing – but am not, due to size constraints. (See again, one skirt being able to take up 1/4 of a suitcase.)
I guess I didn’t quite realize how much I loved those pieces, until I was faced with not seeing them for months. You would have thought that after a year, I would have been thoroughly sick of them. Apparently, putting significant amounts of time into your clothing makes you pretty damn attached.
And as it turns out, I ended up with an almost 50/50 handmade/store bought clothing split in my suitcase – even without the pieces I’m missing the most.
11 store bought pieces (all bought pre-self-made wardrobe project)
7 handmade (all made during the self-made wardrobe project)
2 reconstructed t-shirts (which are kind of both handmade & store bought)
Which is certainly a not-too-shabby number of handmade pieces of clothing.