As I've written at the end of Karen's article in the Fall Issue of amirisu, we'd like to contribute our little stories (more or less my personal stories, since I'm the only one writing them), and a lot of thoughts around the topic.
The relocation of our shop and office at the beginning of October caused this delay, but here I am, finally on a few days of vacation, having plenty of time to wander my mind over and around the slow fashion movement that is happening everywhere.
As an owner of a knitting company (whatever that word entails), we come across the question many of you may have been asked at least once - "why do you bother to knit? "
Why we bother to knit or sew our own clothes is the question we ask ourselves almost everyday. Thanks to Uniqlo and Chinese manufacturers, a price of a decent quality 100% wool sweater became so low that most people buy and throw away sweaters almost every year. This is the reason why we want to design the whole experience of knitting more worthy and enjoyable - from choosing the yarn, choosing tools, to finishing and caring them. Yarns need to be pleasant on our hands, while at the same time create better fabric than store-bought sweaters that last longer.
Up until a little over a year ago, I worked in a corporate environment and my everyday attire were grey and navy suits. I had my suits made a couple of times (I still keep them for rainy days - if our current business should go astray, at least I have well tailored suits) and learned a shocking and sad fact. My tailor told me that women's clothes never use good quality fabrics, even very expensive suits and jackets sold at high fashion brands, because the trends change every year and it's wasteful. This confirmed my suspicions. At boutiques, I always wanted to buy clothes that last longer, as my male friends did, but I rarely find things that satisfy me. Why women cannot enjoy well made clothes with quality fabrics? What's wrong with the fashion industry?
This was about the time I picked up knitting, and soon afterward I really got into spinning and yarn making. This new skill, which is very flexible, mobile and forgiving, excited me more than anything, and opened my eyes. I learned to sew my own clothes back in high school, and now that I can knit, I can make any clothes I want.
I have been knitting quite intensively in the last 10 years while spending very little time on sewing, made only two dresses perhaps, and the last time was at least three years ago. My personal goal for this Slow Fashion October is to reconnect with sewing. And I know what I want to make - a set of pajamas.
Well designed and comfortable sleeping wears are hard to get these days, if you ever noticed. I imagine most Japanese people are wearing things from Uniqlo or other fast fashion brands. Proper pajamas became very expensive, while we were not paying any attention.
I saw this set of pajamas on a cover of a Japanese lifestyle magazine, and was fully intended to buy them however expensive they might be (indeed, they were expensive), but alas, they were already out of stock. Then I remembered - I know how to sew them myself! The first thing we made in high school Kateika class were pajamas. Kateika is a subject taught in Japanese schools, generally only for girls, to train them to become effective and capable housewives. We learn about our bodies, nutrition, cooking, sewing, how to wear kimonos, etc. Although the idea is quite outdated and frustrating, I quite liked the class, especially because the teacher I had was totally a woman rib type of a person. She was a part of the movement to push Kateika to be for both genders, so that men can also become independent and educated.
Anyway, making pajamas was a memorable project for me, because I changed the basic pattern provided by the school to have a proper collar and shirt cuffs with buttons. The alterations had taught me a lot, which became a basis for my sewing skill.
So, back to the pajamas on the cover, I have found 5 meters of red plaid cotton fabric on the Internet, and let it collect dusts for almost a year. I see this is a great opportunity to get started and have my hand made pajamas for the first time in this 20+ years.