Recently I ran into many people asking me, “Why do you knit this? You know that you can buy that too, right?” And to be honest, they hurt quite a bit. I know that I like knitting and will continue to do so, no matter what they say. But the recent discussion around that infamous article in a German online magazine got me thinking. Of course I was a little offended but most of all I couldn’t understand her point of view.
Why wouldn’t you make things yourself? No matter if you call these makers names like “wifey” or think they have no mind for sexual equality. Disregarding the
fact that most of us actually are interested in politics, what we do as a hobby should be seen totally apart from that, right?
Personally, I always wanted to make my own clothes. And it’s my initiative still. That’s why I got a sewing machine even before I started knitting. No wait, it goes even further back: I used to make doll clothes when I was little. To the point that I was so into fashion that I dreamt of being a fashion designer one day.
Plus, clothes that are “in” are so hard to come by in my size. In my opinion, designers for plus size clothing just copy what is fashionable at the time they design and by the time it arrives in the shops one year later it will be out of style. Somehow I understand their way of thinking, they need to produce for a big market. But is that a reason to shamelessly copy what others made up?
The only way that a big girl like me could actually dress fashionably back in the 90s was to be aware of next season. If you knew what would be fashionable in the following summer (while still enjoying the current), you could buy key pieces and dress accordingly. I still buy my clothes that way, trying to go for key and/or classic pieces instead of buying cheap clothing on a whim.
Thinking that I could finally make my own clothes, build a self-made wardrobe, let me buy a sewing machine. But back then I was too impatient. I immediately went for the dress instead of sewing a T-shirt first. Needless to say that it took years until I actually made that dress.
With knitting, it was different. Much more “instant-gratification” somehow. I wanted to own a big, cozy infinity cowl back when they weren’t fashionable. So I went into a yarn store, bought some yarn and needles and let my mother show me how to cast on and knit. It was awesome, I could see the fabric grow under my hands. The finished object was wonky garter stitch and I had increased stitches involuntarily. It gave my mother a hard time doing a three-needle bind-off. But I didn’t know what it was called back then! I didn’t even know how to finish a knitted object. But obviously it was love at first stitch, because it stuck with me.
Finally being able to make my own clothes (which knitting enabled me to) made me much more aware not only of what I buy but also what the fabrics in my clothes are made of and where they come from. When I see posters from huge chain stores on bus stops, advertising the newest cashmere sweater, I will certainly think twice about it. Not only does most of today’s cashmere wool come from China but does the sweater indeed contain cashmere at all? And is it worth that 150€ price tag if it only contains 5 to 10 percent of actual wool, be it cashmere or no?
These are just few of the things that run through my head when someone asks me, “Why don’t you buy this at a clothing store?” You can’t answer that in just one sentence – which is what most people want from you because that’s all they have time for before checking their mails on their smartphone again – except for, “I don’t.” Which I will probably do next time.