Over the past couple of years, my goals for making have changed and evolved. The intersection between creativity and practicality has increasingly affected how I view my making. But if I’m being honest with myself, the balance between ‘making just to make’ and pushing myself to learn, grow and labour has difficult to strike. A member, Becca, of our Wool n’ Spinning community shared this amazing quote recently as the group engaged in this exact question and I think it sums up my experience quite beautifully:
“Life is better when you possess a sustaining practice that holds your desire, demands your attention, and requires effort; a plot of ground that gratifies the wish to labour and create…
Whether by accident or design, many of us seem to find enduring gratification in struggling to master and then repeatedly applying some difficult skill that allows us at once to realize and express ourselves… Our common creative labours restore older, more familiar rhythms of humanity, and by so doing they ground us and temper the particular fragmentation and disconnections that define our age.” Janna Malamud Smith , An Absorbing Errand
Sometimes I feel guilty about spending time on my making when others have to labour very hard in other parts of the world to make clothing for the fast fashion market with very little choice. Then I look around at the world I live in, and think about how I want to spend my time, resources and energy. While I feel that I have ‘accomplished’ something when I finish an item, I also think about the skill and energy that went into making that thing. I think about how much I value those who have little to no choice. I think about how my actions, particularly in my purchasing, can be used to reflect my personal beliefs. I think about how I can be an agent of change, rather than become mired in the feeling that ‘I can’t do anything anyway’.
In an effort to understand how all of this plays together in my own making, I thought I would take on a larger project on the loom that would involve weaving and sewing a garment. Much of my experience will be shared on The Wool Stream, but here, I will chronicle how I moved through the course on the School of SweetGeorgia (affiliate link) to learn the process of dreaming, planning and creating. Because I’ve moved through this process many times in my spinning and knitting, I thought it would be interesting to see how it plays out in my weaving.
In the Epic Cloth Challenge, the prompts that are given to begin dreaming about the garment or item I want to make include what the goals of the project are and why. I have come to the belief that in any challenge I engage in, in all avenues of my life, knowing the ‘why’ really helps to understand the reason for taking something on in the first place. Health, education, creativity all need a reason to flourish in my life but certainly improve when I know why I am making them a priority! For me, I want to learn as much about this process as possible, recognizing that each project will have learning and challenge. It is important to me that I have a usable garment at the end but if it doesn’t fit will, I can re-make the tee into dish towels/cloths so the fabric will not go unused. Limiting waste is very important to me!
Some of the aspects of the garment that are important to me include making a wearable muslin ahead of time, which I am in the process of doing (blog post soon). Choosing the colours that I will weave with to create the striping in the fabric was fun to do and in the end, after looking at the cotton on my desk for a week or so, I switched out one of the colours and feel even more satisfied with the results. Lastly, I chose a relatively straight-forward sewing pattern to focus on the weaving, rather than the sewing. This reminds me of our spinning when we have a large knit item in mind: Do you want to the finished item to highlight the spinning or the knitting? This is really important. Here, I want to highlight the weaving so I chose a simple pattern from Grainline Studios and downloaded the PDF pattern.
Finishing the sewing on this project, serging and finishing the seams will be the completed project. Taking the time at the end to iron and press the tee for wearing means that in my mind, it’s finished. Taking photos and reflecting on the process throughout is also really important. These are indicators for me that the project will be finished.
This post will as part of a reflective study about engaging in an Epic Cloth challenge – I hope you will share your own experiences of making cloth with me in the comments! This is cross-posted to our Patreon feed so that our community is able to follow along as well.
In Part 2 of this challenge, I will discuss my ‘why’ and the importance of reflecting on our why in many areas of our lives. “Because I want to” isn’t usually enough to keep us going when challenges set in! I look forward to continuing this conversation soon!