In lieu of a coarser term, I knit to anger persons.
By which I do not mean, I knit to annoy real human beings with the click-click-click of my needles. (They don’t click.) Or with the movements of my arms: as a “production” and public-transport knitter, I have taught myself to knit with minimal motion, and if the movements of my fingers and forearm muscles annoy people, that’s their problem. They can play with their smartphones. Nor do I mean that I knit to annoy real human beings by bragging about what I produce, although I love to reply to those who ask me where I bought my top, I made it. (Then there are those who recognize the absolutely outrageous quality of a good hand knit and confront me: You made this! What yarn? What pattern? What needles? What is the gauge, or stitches per centimeter or inch?)
No, I knit to anger the corporations known as persons, who have flooded the world with so much cheap junk we are drowning in it, be it junk food or junk clothing. I knit to make my own clothing (this is what I mean by being a “production knitter”, rather than a real production knitter) because the results are so much better than anything I can buy. My choice of pattern, my choice of colors and material, my measurements, for well under $100 for most garments—for materials. As for the cost of my time, let us just say knitting is entertainment and a channel for OCD as well. Is it cost effective? Not if my competition is Wal-Mart or Target or H&M. In fact, however, I compare my work to Chanel, Dior, Hermes, and Big Pharma. Compared to their prices, my work is incredibly cost-effective. I am, after all, uninterested in producing the cheap and the disposable; I am interested in producing the beautiful and durable.
I knit to also, as I alluded to in the previous paragraph, make a political statement. I knit to deny the persons who are actually corporations producing junk, my money. I knit to deny them legitimacy. I knit to say not only, I can do better, but, What do I need you for? I knit to prove to my fellow citizens that we do not need junk.
If every one of us decided to make just some our own clothing, if every man and woman alike—for I am not saying women should do unpaid labor as family knitters and tailors; in fact, I am saying the opposite—made just one beautiful garment each season, what would happen to the corporations that get rich by selling us the cheap and quickly outmoded? What would happen if a man who wanted a sweater decided that he wasn’t going to buy a fleece thing that pilled and looked shabby and instead decided to knit Ronaldsay out of a good, hard, durable wool? This is would be a fun knit: just difficult enough to be interesting, and the wow-to-effort factor is incredible. It wouldn’t take more than a few hours to learn to make, in fact, if you joined a helpful knitting group of enablers and addicts. Cast-on, bind-off, knit, purl, left and right cable crosses (it looks like 8-stitch cables) every few rows. That’s it. Well, you do need to count. Maximilian, Jade Starmore’s rather Landsknecht-y pullover, is also seriously covetable and far easier than it looks. I plan to make that for me.
What happened if we all did this? What happened if each of us chose to master an important craft: sewing, gardening, butchery, preserving, carpentry, pottery, cooking, metalwork?
We would each produce some of the things we need and use every day. If we bought some or all the materials we used from our communities, particularly from local merchants and manufacturers, we would keep our money circulating within our communities. We would also be able to better evaluate so much of what we are sold at places like Wal-Mart and the Gap, Macy’s and Target as what it actually is. Junk, produced at a terrible cost in human lives and dignity, be it of those exploited even unto death, of the unemployed and underemployed here in America and every other country where corporations and their profits are regarded as more important than human beings—including the human beings without whom no corporation can exist, much less be profitable.
Below is approximately a year’s production: I pulled stuff out of my closet, placed it on a white sheet and photographed it. I did not have the time to steam everything, the more so because it will just be folded back up and need to be steamed the next time I wear it.
Annie Modessit’s Corset Top, knit from a blend of cotton, cashmere, wool and viscose. I ought to wear it more often than I do—it is all that. I’ve never been able to photograph this properly; there is a certain sheen to the yarn that I think may not help.
I call this a Klingon Battle Dress Tunic; it’s actually a Vogue Knitting pattern knit from Schaeffer’s Susan, a sport-weight cotton in the colorway Althea Gibson. Handpainted yarns can pool in ways that are dreadful (known as Clown Barf) or delightful. I really ought to edge the arms with crochet; I love to wear this over a tank top and tight trousers or jeans.
This is a free Pierrot pattern knit from a blend of acrylic and cotton. I’ve decided that I really rather dislike soft yarns, like this one, because they pill too much. I’ll probably reknit this out of silk. I love to wear this over a particular green tank top and some really ugly cargo shorts.
A Jade Starmore pattern, Elizabeth the First; I ended up altering the off-the-shoulder neckline to something squarer and more in keeping with contemporary fashions. It’s knit from 50/50 silk/cashmere, which is soft but not that pilly.
These are my first pair of socks and my introduction to Noro, which I hate because of the knots. It’s an arch-shaped pattern that I had to alter to get right the heels, and my feet love because I have high arches; if you don’t, your feet probably won’t. I think there are more hand-knitted socks in my future.
I just finished this homage to Lilly Pulitzer. The pattern is Helga Isager’s Coral, and the body is 50/50 silk/linen; the accent is some nameless handpainted merino cashmere that I have about 40 g of scrap left. It’s a beautiful yarn that pills madly; for that matter, the silk/linen is more hairy than I like, but for a summer top, I can accept it. I thought this would be a tank top; it’s a mid-thigh tunic that I wear over loose culottes because it is very body conscious.
This is Carol Sunday’s Tapestry, modified to be a pullover rather than a cardigan. I knit in the round to the armholes and almost finished the back when my math went wrong, so I set it aside to do my summer knitting. The yarn was a really ugly flesh-colored, 50/50 silk/wool that I bought for $10/pound and overdyed a saffron red that is much deeper and browner than the picture shows.
Missing is a shawl, called Echoflowers, in a lovely orchid mercerized cotton and frosted iridescent amber glass beads that I gave to a friend before I thought to photograph it. Also on my needles is another Vogue pattern in a deep, dirty gold silk that is ribbed lace and cables. For details, I’m Warmare on Ravelry.