I recently completed "Antarktis", a shawl designed by Janina Kallio. I used a wonderful yarn to knit the shawl: Miss Bab’s Yummy 2-ply, which I had purchased at Stitches West.
I was inspired to knit my shawl by Stephanie, the owner of my local yarn store, who is constantly wearing some gorgeous hand-knitted shawl which completes her fashion ensembles. In fact, as I have been reading all the blogs about making one’s own clothes during #slowfashionoctober, it has become clear to me that one of the biggest advantages of knitting is the supportive community that comes along with it!
Trunk show for String Cashmere yarn at Uncommon Threads
The latest event at my local yarn store, featuring champagne and cashmere, is a case in point. Imagine a festive, giggling throng of women sampling String’s 100% cashmere yarns (Scozia, bulky, and Norway, dk are to die for!) as well as their merino/cashmere blends (Oslo, aran weight and Dolcetto, bulky also felt sublime) while sipping champagne and nibbling on chocolates and strawberries. The feel of the cashmere was sheer heaven in my hands, but the delicious experience was enhanced by the enthusiasm of the women surrounding me.
By contrast, shopping for clothing in a department store is not a personal, or always woman-friendly experience. In fact, some of my shopping experiences have confronted me with unattainable goals of beauty or wealth which can even, at moments, feel demeaning. Don't get me wrong, I love to shop just like anyone else, but I don't always feel great afterwards. This month, reading all the blogs of handcrafting, what stood out to me the most is how affirming many women find stitching, knitting and embroidery to be. The blogger Amy Bornman of redspeckledwhite explains the difference this way in her post: shopping for fashion is the experience “I want, I want” and handcrafting clothing is the experience “I am, I am.”
This month, my local yarn store is featuring a knit-a-long for “Shoctober” or “Shawls in October”. Every Friday, the long table at the back of the store slowly fills with interesting Silicon Valley women: lawyers, chemical engineers, moms, mathematicians, artists, and educators, who are all drawn together to knit shawls from 3-6pm. As we admire each other’s handiwork, share tools and techniques, and tell stories, I am reminded of the sewing and quilting circles I loved to read about as a child in books such as “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables.” Most of us no longer live in farming communities, but instead pursue a variety of careers once reserved for men, but the need for our own stitching circle perseveres.
Frankly, as a sweater knitter, I would never have tackled this shawl project if it hadn’t been for the example of other accomplished knitters. The warmth and fellowship and learning that our knitting community provides is endless. But community is a different experience for everyone. I would love to hear from my readers about your favorite knitting group, locally or online.