a life in clothes

Two and a half years ago, I left my Big Fat Day Job to come back to my own work... which left me with the big challenge: what is my own work, really?

First, let it be said that it's a total luxury to be able to think about what 'your' work is, and to be able to explore what you want to do without the crazy financial pressures that this modern world throws at us. But I wish it were a luxury more of us could have - in the hopes that it would give us a chance to sit down and think: "what can I contribute to the world to make other people's lives better?"

If you get to sit still long enough, you uncover what your passions are - and for me, that's clothes. Not in the superficial, fast-fashion, "what's on trend?" sort of way, but in a deeper, more meaningful way of: "How can you feel more YOU in what you wear? How can you feel more powerful, more expressive, more radiant every day through what you put on your body - so you can go out yourself and make the world a better place?"

It could be argued that there are more urgent, big and difficult things to work on out there in the world (especially right now) - and there are. Sadly, I didn't study law, or urban planning, nor am I suited to be a political canvasser... so I do what I can in my free time in those social arenas, and donate, and make the phone calls. But for my daily work? I work on wardrobes. How can we get more people making their own clothes, or streamlining their closets, or cutting their fast-fashion buying habits? How can we widen the conversation about how we dress ourselves to include sustainability, empowerment, and creativity?

I left my job thinking I wanted to focus full-time on design: publishing new knitting patterns, both for my own label and other creative companies. But the more I looked around, the more I realized that there's a glut of design out there right now. Great houses are putting out multiple collections every year, and with Ravelry as a platform for self-publishing, there are new free patterns (some good and some less refined) hitting knitters every day. We as Makers don't need more choice - we need more vision.

What is it you really want to make? What do you love to wear? What can you put on in the morning that will make you feel more YOU - and able to take on the world in your way?

I've been asking myself these questions every day for the last two years ... and it's been a remarkably fulfilling process (for something that basically boils down to thinking about clothes). It's spun off into taking better care of the body I'm needing to clothe; into greater financial responsibility; into more time to take care of my friends and family when they spin into crisis ...

It's been an interesting process over the last two years, and one that's taken more work and time than I originally thought it should. I've been training myself to sew, gone back to school for sweater design, purged my wardrobe multiple times, learned hand-sewing... and it's all slowly coming into focus.

I don't own just 33 pieces of clothing; I still live with a respectable fleet of (fabulous) shoes... but I'm getting ever closer to being able to put this process into words to share with you all. As I polish up ideas, I'm posting them over at knitwhatyouwear.com, hopefully in some sort of order for those of you who might want to take action right now to start refining your handmade wardrobe vision.

In the meantime, I've realized it's also okay to share the process - because the whole point is that it is a process (and not some miraculous, sudden minimalist dream vision). Getting to core takes some grunt work of sifting and shoveling out; getting to handmade takes muslins and false starts and ripping out WiPs.

But it's good work. It's not the only work, but it's the work that will put you out into the world in an authentic, empowered way. Get enough of us out there doing that, being that, and together we will clean up the other messes.