Vegspiration

I am amazed and delighted by the sheer quantity of produce emerging from our garden right now.

Coming from untrained and totally suburban roots, the fact of growing my own food or producing stuff from the garden still feels like a constant miracle to me. Skills and knowledge are effortfully and deliberately acquired rather than the common knowledge they may be to someone who grew up on a farm. Consequently, my main regard for everything that grows and can be used in some way is governed  less by common sense than by wonderment. Perhaps that is why I am so excited by vegetables that I want to knit them, endlessly, in a celebration of all the things I can’t quite get over in the garden…

…over the weekend we made rhubarb gin, (same as sloe gin but using rhubarb) and pumpkin soup (again) and I dyed 200gm of bluefaced leicester yarn using stuff from the garden. The Woad was very exciting but I am saving the writeup and pictures of that for something special. For now, here is a tantilising preview of the dye process in action:

The Rhubarb, Bramble, Sunflower and Wallflower processes have all been quite time-consuming and are still underway but there will be news of how these things turned out later this week. I am overjoyed to find that the detested brambles in the garden can actually be of use, providing lovely, murky, earthy tans and ochres and sage greens when dyed over woad blues. I love also that I can use the sunflowers I have been growing all year from our Manifest seed packets to make something I can wear.The destination for all this garden-dyed yarn is a winter scarf full of garden love. I will miss all the outdoor colours, the daily contact with fresh plant-life and the bright greens of the summer when the weather turns really cold and the days grow shorter. A scarf knit from the things I loved growing this year will provide an antidote, I hope, to the winter blues, and a record of this summers’ growing adventures.

In my quest to mend my broken relationship with clothes, the wardrobe and daily dress, Kate’s posts about clothes have been especially inspiring recently. To those of you unfamiliar with Needled, Kate’s blog is an amazing record of ideas surrounding clothes and I have been re-reading some of her posts recently; particularly those that pertain to memory, place and clothing. On a really simple level, place defines clothes practically. For instance we see jumpers and socks and hardy outerwear developing in colder climes, and fine cottons and silks developing more prevalently where it is warm. But there is a whole space concerning our imaginative engagement with place – how we see, feel, taste, imagine and create with – our locale,  that can be richly mined for incredible personal-style-results. When I think about garments which reflect an imaginative relationship between place and clothes, I return again to several garments that remain in my mind, prompting me to draw lines between place and garment, between sense of place and sense of self.

I love how these projects reflect some kind of relationship between self, place and function. With the East Linton Dress, I love the role the landscape has had in informing the design and the colours. With Will’s jumper, I love the way the jumper ‘fits’ both in terms of function and place. The jumper seems to me to be hewn of the very allotment soil itself, reflecting its earthy function not only in practical terms, but also in terms of its colour and the yarn that was used to make it. Lara’s scarf reflects to me the way that holidays, self and place intertwine. I enjoyed very much her description of buying the yarn in New York and the scarf’s evocation of wintery days in NYC. There are thousands of other projects I’ve read about online that have inspired me re: the whole place/garment issue, but these are my favourites. Knitting generally does lend itself to a lot of geographical ideas because of the way that different localities produce different sheep and different weather, therefore different garments and styles, but this whole other level that is imaginative and textural and which blurs the distinction between the wearer and the environment is really exciting to me right now.

My garden scarf is an attempt to weave aspects of my favourite place and my sense of self together into one thing; I can’t wait for all the yarn to dry out so I can start knitting with it!

One Response to Vegspiration

  1. Lara says:

    The garden scarf sounds amazing – can’t wait to see the wool. And also I think you have chosen lovely plants to dye with – the names sound really poetic. And I’m thrilled my NYC scarf gets a mention… Knitting and place – I love it. It is a key theme for me at the moment with my obsession with sheep and landscapes!

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