10 – Saturday’s Number

10 is today’s magic number, as I have now lost 10% of my body weight since I joined WW just before Christmas. To celebrate, I took all the clothes that I didn’t like which were too big for me anyway, and deposited them at the nearby charity shop.

To mark this splendid occasion and the hard-won acquisition of my reduced size, I am going to tell you about my 10-year wardrobe project. There are many projects online that look at the personal wardrobe, individual style, the lure of the handmade and thrifty or eco-approaches to refashioning and repurposing old clothes and I love these kinds of blog projects immensely and am directly inspired and influenced by them.

I first enjoyed the idea of a wholly handmade wardrobe through Kate’s year of clothing herself, and it was through following her posts on this that I became aware of the creative and beautifully simple little brown dress project. I have since been inspired by how the online crafting community has responded creatively to the recession, bringing the make-do-and-mend ethos of the second world war fully back into consciousness with sassy, post-90s DIY chic thrown in. I’m thinking specifically here of Cargo Cult Craft, Thread & Thrift, A sewn wardrobe and the very enjoyable So Zo… blog that I have recently subscribed to. In this context, Brenda Dayne’s Make do and Mend series of Cast On was amazing and I really enjoyed the stories that she collected from listeners by working out of that topical phrase – in particular, the essay by M Lynn Yu in Episode 79: Stitches in Time.

Meeting artists like Celia Pym and Fleur of The Glass Pingle have also made me think differently about the resonant, imaginative qualities of clothes and fabric, as have Colleen’s beautiful posts about memory and fabric over on the absolutely wonderful rus in urbis.

Hat with buttons by Fleur Oakes, AKA The Glass Pingle.

Various people in the textiles industry that I have met and interviewed over the past year or so have also made a profound impression upon my thinking re: where things come from, and about what we can sustain or preclude with our choices about what to wear.*

The rare sheep that graze on Rachael’s parents’ land in The Lake District.

My exploration of these issues has found expression through this blog, and the medium of words and stories that it lends itself to.

Yarns I dyed myself, using plants I grew in the garden.

I have loved the time that it has all taken; the slow biennial growth pattern of Woad, the time it took to gather walnut husks to dye wool with, the time I am spending on darning at the moment, and the time it took for me to overcome with trembling hands the fear of ruining fabric in order to make a top. The lack of speed that I associate with acquiring clothes in this way really gives enough time for me to feel that they are my clothes, for me to get used to owning them, for me to appreciate and value and love all the little details that they contain, so that they feel familiar and intimate when I come to put my body inside them.

I have realised that this is how I like to dress myself. My 10 year wardrobe project isn’t so much about saving money or reusing or recycling as it is about the idea of a slow wardrobe. My idea is that in 10 years’ time, my wardrobe will be like a portable ideas-box, where memories and stories will be combined with all the function and purpose of useful clothes. Who knows, maybe it will even take longer.

As it is, I am finding it hard to take off my Maudette since wearing it is a constant comfort and a link to the alluring worlds of mudlarks buttons and Harris Tweed. I have been especially happy since I paired this with my tweed bag, the hat that is the twin of Emmylou’s, the refashioned hourglass sweater, the swaledale socks, and the very thin long-sleeved vest that I am currently darning in all the places where it has worn through. The vest I am darning is a real favourite; it is very thin, (please to forgive all the bra visible through it in this shot) and the colour is lovely. I found it in a sale basket about 2 years ago for £3 and I have worn it under things very often since then. I want to make a fine-knit base-layer inspired by this.

I love the sleepy/just awake/morning atmosphere that Mark captured in this shot as it illustrates perfectly the unselfconscious feeling of me-ness that attends the moments when I am wearing clothes that I really love.

I feel like me wearing such things. Such things feel specifically like my clothes. And the time I spend putting them together is usually far more pleasurably spent than any hours I have ever wasted in shops with their unflatteringly lit changing rooms, their tendency to overheat in Winter and overchill in Summer, and their unethically-made, ill-fitting, one-size-fits-all types of garments. Very occasional sale-basket raids notwithstanding, it is while on adventures and journeys, in the lived experience of my life, that I like to collect the ideas for and physically fashion my clothes.

And so that is what the 10 year wardrobe project is about; slow-clothes which – like slow food – take longer to make, but are generally tastier.

Tasty Strawberry-fabric/polka dot Naples top.

I have been really, really busy this week which means that clothing-making has been even slower than usual, but in truth I am drawing out some of the making I am doing at the moment because it is so pleasurable and because I am finding the pace of knitting, sewing etc. to be a welcome antidote to the pace of other things I am doing. There is a whole other blog post to be written on the subject of listening and time, but I will save that for another day.

Today’s Numbers

WW points consumed – 19
£££ spent – £5.23 on pack of coffee, pack of crumpets, tin of baked beans and litre of skimmed milk £8.64 on another shade card, this time from Jamiesons of Shetland £70.50 on evil, random, lease-renewal fees charged by my Estate Agents

Menu:

WW layered fromage-frais for breakfast, toasted crumpets and tasty baked beans for lunch, lentil and veg bake plus creamy potato/mushroom gratin for dinner.

*In terms of getting inspired about different kinds of materials and the provenance of materials and how they relate to places and specific geographies, it is hard to meet more impassioned or knowledgeable folks than Roger at Diamond Fibres, John Arbon at Coldharbour Mill, Julia at Beech Hill Farm, Rachael and Louise at Prick Your Finger, Richard at Filkins Mill, Cecilia of Woolfest fame or all the fantastic fibre farmers I have met online, like Devon Fine Fibres, Juniper Moon Farm and Barbara Parry. I am sure I have left people out of that list but if I have talked to you about materials and places and how those things interconnect, then I’m talking about you.

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