As the world changes to be more eco-friendly to the planet, many of us are also changing our way of life in small ways, such as sorting out the plastic, metal & paper in our rubbish, using canvas bags to collect our shopping or simply using a metal straw to prevent the ever mounting waste that is polluting our planet. Some of us are also more consciously trying to be part of slow fashion thought changing the way we shop for our clothing. Through purchasing from brands which have a more sustainable approach to the manufacture of the garments, such as the use of eco-friendly fabrics and non-toxic dyes.
The whole ethos of the ‘Slow Fashion’ was created by Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. In which she explains slow fashion is clothing which is sustainably made, from high quality materials and is rooted back to local craftsmanship. Not out sourced in mass from factories in Thailand & Indonesia which are made from cheapest poor quality materials available and the workers are paid pennies. The garments are also made in classic timeless designs which can be used year round and never go out of style.
‘Developing a garment with a cultural & emotional connection is also pertinent to the purpose behind slow fashion, therefore consumers will keep an article of clothing for longer than one season if they feel emotionally or culturally connected to the article of clothing’
So how do can we incorporate ‘Slow Fashion’ into our crochet?
Instinctively we tend to already do this without knowing. When we decide to dedicate our time & crochet skills (or knitting) to a project, we first need to choose or create a design we want to make. This initial step already ignites an emotional or cultural connection within us, for example you want to crochet a baby blanket for your first child or grandchild. Even before you put yarn to hook you have already created a bond with your item you are going to make. I myself made a crochet baby blanket 4 years before my little one came along (pattern by Pigtails.blogspot) & this was at a time when having a baby for us was not our main focus in life, but the finished blanket created a strong emotional connection with me and it became something very precious which was loving wrapped away until the time came for use. Only now my 3 year old daughter is just beginning to enjoy the item that she now knows her Mummy made for her. This is not just meaningless store bought blanket but an item which was made with an idea of our future life realized 7 years later with that dream. I am sure that my little girl will grows up with her blanket knowing the emotional connection & love that went into this gift.
Also we make our crochet skirt or top with our own hands, as no machine can replicate crochet, therefore we are already following the principles of going back to craftsmanship. I know many of you will be saying ’I already crochet my own clothing, I have an emotional or cultural connection with my work, therefore I am helping the environment’ that great! But slow fashion is not just about the process of production, it is also about the design that you choose to make as well as the use of sustainable materials.
So going back, you have decide on your pattern. Try to choose designs which you know you will be able to wear over & over again, think that your crochet item is going to become part of your capsule wardrobe. This crochet top you are going make, can it be used in more than one season? If you can layer it up or down with other items then that is a multipurpose garment which can cover many or all the seasons. Obviously there are items we will make which are just for one occasion, such as a crochet wedding dress or a crochet christening gown. But these become treasure items and are lovingly stored & maybe passed down to the next generation therefore they are still part of slow fashion.
The yarn you choose to dedicate to your chosen pattern is a crucial step in which your item will either become a beautifully made crochet top or a beautifully made crochet top part of the Slow Fashion movement.
‘What’s the difference?’
The choice of yarn you choose. Instead of buying the cheaper synthetic yarns, if your budget allows try to aim for higher quality natural yarns such as wool, cotton, linen & silk (there are many more options, these are but a few). They not only help your crochet clothing look & feel beautiful, they will also allow your lovingly made crochet jumper, scarf or bedding last longer, as they will be made from natural materials which can breathe. Think back to the crochet bedding maybe your great gran or nana has or had, these tended to be made from crochet cotton lace. I have a blanket I bought from a junk shop over 10 years ago & this was clearly handmade mostly likely in the 70’s, yet almost 50 years later this blanket looks as good as new because it was made from highly quality cotton yarn, which is strong, it washes beautifully but also softens with each wash.
If you can, try to go that little step further when choosing your yarn & buy your yarn from sustainable sourced materials, such as eco or organic. Alternatively if that is not an option for you, buy from a small scale yarn company & help support a local handcrafted business. I know this not always easy especially when you live somewhere like I do, here in Brazil there are very little options available as small scale yarn business virtually do not exist, but the internet is a wonderful thing & you can now easily source anything online, one of my favourite places is Etsy. Also when I get the chance to travel back to the England, I always try to source my yarn from small businesses in the UK & Europe which are easily found at many of the various yarn festivals available throughout the year such as Edinburgh Yarn Festival, this is where I found a fantastic little yarn company that specialises in pure linen yarn which I use for many of my designs.
As crocheter’s, knitters or any craft in which you create clothing we are all helping break down this wall of ‘Fast Fashion’ with our beautiful handmade garments. Every stitch we make is intertwined with emotion and pure craftsmanship, but next time you make your crochet scarf be ‘Crochet Conscious’ and go that step further and apply just one of the principles of slow fashion to your crochet work. Either in the way you choose your pattern or your choice of materials you use & you will be helping to make our world a better place by creating sustainable, versatile crochet garments which will last many years.
Here is a shortlist of a few of the yarn companies I use to make my crochet clothing for me & my family.