Another topic that Slow Fashion October has encouraged me to explore is how often I wear my handknits, and what might be discouraging me from wearing them more often.
Often, the proverbial devil is in the details. I find that I'm not happy with some aspect of the finishing, and as a result, take a negative view of the whole project. Usually this is because I was in such a rush to just GET IT DONE, I hurried through the final steps and did a sloppy job. (And again, this is more true of sweaters than anything else.)
My Lady Sunnyside waited weeks for buttons, but the ones I chose are perfect!
So I ask myself, what is the point of hurrying to finish something if I'm not going to wear it? Wouldn't it make much more sense to take my time, do it right, and end up with something I'm excited to wear? Obviously. They may not be the most enjoyable parts of a sweater, but it's important to consider things like seaming, setting in sleeves, and sewing on buttons as integral parts of the whole project, rather than afterthoughts.
Another issue to be mindful of is yarn choice. This has nothing to do with the price of the yarn or the name attached to it--neither of which guarantees anything--but is about making educated choices regarding the best yarn to use for a project. If it doesn't wear well, if it pills like crazy, if it's itchy, if it obscures the pattern details, I'm not going to end up wearing it.
Making sure I've made the best yarn choice will require a little more effort up front--I need to use my swatches not just for gauge, but to assess the yarn. Do I like the fabric? Can I wear it next to the skin? If I pin it to my shirt and leave it there all day (a day I'm not planning to leave the house, presumably!), is it pilling and showing signs of wear? Yes, the label says superwash, but what happens if I actually throw it in the washing machine?
It's fun to try new yarns, but it's also important to have a list of tried-and-true yarns that you know are reliable. I find myself frequently returning to Madelinetosh yarns, and while the original draw might have been the name, after using several bases for different projects, I know that the yarns are comfortable, wear well and don't bleed.
And finally, I need to play closer attention to how I care for my handknits. Last year, overwhelmed with two babies and not enough hours in the day, I began throwing my handknit socks in the washer and dryer. And shortly after that, I noticed many of them--socks I'd worn for years without trouble--developing holes, thin patches, pills and assorted other ailments. No sooner would I darn hole than another would appear--the short term time savings gained by machine washing and drying only resulted in more time spent repairing, and ultimately having to throw many socks out. This was a tough lesson to learn, but if I'm going to take the time to knit things, I also need to make the time to care for them correctly.
In short, my responsibility to my handknits doesn't end when I weave in the last end. Instead, I need to commit to wearing and caring for them over the long haul.