As the new year begins, I have been settling in to the reflective focus I so often find pulling at me in this season. I'm not often one for grand resolutions, and even more rarely do they actually stick for me. But I do enjoy embracing a look back at what has and hasn't worked for me over the past year, and taking a few days to make some plans to continue and improve upon what has been a success, and what tweaks I can make to avoid some of the stress and anxiety I experienced over the previous year.
I had a couple days last week to devote to reflection, and I've set three main intentions for myself this year. The first two are inter-related: 1) to focus more on self-care, and 2) to make some changes to work more efficiently, and less all-encompassingly. But my third goal is centered around my creative pursuits; namely, 3) I want to be more intentional in my making this year, with the goal of building a handmade wardrobe that inspires me and brings me joy. I know many of us are making plans for our creative pursuits right now, so I thought it would be fun to dive into my thought process and share a little more here!
By the end of the last year, I was frankly feeling frustrated with and not very drawn to my knitting, and I hadn't made time to sew for myself in months. A large part of the problem was that I was keeping myself incredibly busy working (hence goal number 2), but I had also overcommitted to sample and test knitting projects, was trying to squeeze in time for gift knitting, and honestly wasn't sure how functional some of the projects on my needles for myself were going to be in my wardrobe.
As I started seeing Make Nine plans for 2019 crop up on Instagram, I was looking back at my 2018 plans and realizing I had only cast on or cut out four of the eighteen projects I had hoped to make (I made separate sewing and knitting Make Nine grids), and only finished three. I love all three, and wear the two that I made for myself frequently, and when I finally finish that fourth project I know it will be a wardrobe staple. And I found plenty of time for knitting and finishing other projects, but at the end of the year many of them weren't mine to enjoy (I know that's not a problem for many people, but I am unabashedly a SELFISH knitter), and I had a couple of beautiful knits that I wasn't super happy wearing. I might talk more about my successes and failures in 2018 in another, later post, but the overall impression was this- I wanted to take a different approach this year, one that would be a better fit for me and my creative personality and making goals.
So my intention this year is to focus my making around crafting a functional handmade wardrobe. I've started the year by thinking about what I would like my style to be, and focusing in on looks I gravitate towards. The Seamwork Design Your Wardrobe Challenge has been a super valuable resource- the prompt-driven process they use gave me a lot of inspiration and really guided my thoughts. I made time last week to spend a couple days scrolling through Pinterest, Instagram, and the webpages of some of my favorite clothing brands, and honed in on my style. Then I set to assessing my wardrobe for what I have, what pieces I love and wear often, and what pieces I don't. By the end of the exercise I had a sketched out set of foundational pieces that would make up my dream wardrobe. I even spent some time brainstorming ideas for ways to wear those pieces together.
I've stuck intentionally with generic silhouettes or "categories". I love the motivation and inspiration of a Make Nine, and enjoy immensely both the excuse to spend a day or two taking a deep dive into Ravelry and some of my favorite sewing pattern designers' websites, and the community and discussion it fosters around slow fashion, style, and creativity. But a specific pick of nine knitting patterns and nine sewing patterns at the beginning of the year didn't work very well for me. Partially because I love spending time in the Instagram creative community, and fall hard for new patterns on a weekly, if not daily basis! So this year, instead of picking specific patterns as my "set" Make Nine, I am drawing focus from my dream wardrobe process, and have picked eighteen wardrobe elements to focus on creating- nine well suited to knitting, and nine well suited to sewing. There are a few pieces of my larger dream wardrobe I don't want to make, or that would take a lot of time and dedication to picking up new skills I'm not sure I will have time for this year- I'm leaving those off my making list, and I have a to buy list that I will check off over the next year or two, with a priority set on buying from ethical sources that pay their workers well and respect the environment. (That list includes shoes, tights, jeans, and outerwear.) The rest I'm hoping to incorporate heavily into the projects I work on over the next few years, starting in 2019.
Here's the lists:
Knitting: 1) Fitted Crewneck Pullovers, 2) Long Cozy Tunics, 3) Short Boxy Raglans and Yoked Sweaters, 4) Cardigan Jackets, 5) Big Cozy Triangle Shawls, 6) Slim Crescent Shawls, 7) Warm Wooly Socks, 8) a Colorwork Hat/Scarf/Mittens set, and 9) a Cozy Cabled Hat/Scarf/Long Fingerless Mitts set
Sewing: 1) Button Up Shirt Dresses, 2) Fitted Bodice Dresses with Gathered Skirts, 3) Easy T Shirt Dresses, 4) A-Line Skirts, 5) High-Waisted, Pegged Trousers, 6) Button Up Shirts and Popovers, 7) Drapey Blouses, 8) V- and Scoop-Neck Bodysuits, and 9) A Slightly Oversized, Tailored Casual Blazer/Jacket
Making my way through even just one piece from each "category" will likely take me more than a year. And I would love to have multiples of many of these wardrobe elements, to mix and match, and to work through different patterns, use different yarns and fabrics, and even design a few of these items myself! My goal is to use this more as a prioritization exercise whenever I get ready to start a new project- start with the pieces I need most, and then reflect on what gaps I've filled, what's still lacking, and what I may be able to make with yarn or fabric I already own. Its been an intention of mine to start sharing more of my personal life and making here in this space, so a new year and new making plans seemed like a perfect reason to kick off a blog!
I have a few different plans for this space, including sharing more behind the scenes of the business, but first up will be a continuing series about my making plans this year (and probably into the future). I'm hoping to write more about my progress as the year unfolds- what's working, what needs changing, any additions to the lists (so far my plans are heavy on cold-weather pieces, which makes sense for where I live, but I may need to add a few items for the summer months!), and what I've checked off the list and how I'm working it in with the other items in my wardrobe. I would also love to focus more in depth throughout the year on the different item "categories", and share my inspiration for adding them to my wardrobe, outfit ideas incorporating that piece, and highlighting my favorite patterns in that category! I would love it if this series could help tip someone off to a favorite new pattern, offer some suggestions for new pieces or new ways to wear a favorite item, or even spark some wider wardrobe reflection or inspiration. Its a conversation I would love to dive into with you all!
I'm aiming to check in weekly here (and feature some of these discussions on Instagram as well), so if all goes according to plan, watch out next week for a deeper discussion of my specific plans, including my style inspiration, a dive into my stash, and what pieces I have queued up first and why.
In the meantime, I'm wishing you all a warm, inviting, and inspiring start of this new year!
Great first blog post, Shannon. It was very interesting with lots of good food for thought. Thanks!