Fibreshed knitalong: the middle

New year, ongoing project. We had our second Knitalong meetup last weekend. Emily Cunetto, designer of the Radiata pattern joined us. We shared our progress and talked about local clothes.

Our progress

We’re at all stages of knitting within our group. Sue has finished her shawl already! She has recorded her experience on her blog. Sue is an experienced spinner. She already had a local lamb’s fleece in her stash when she joined our knitalong. She’s been loving “using a fibre I know the history of”. She even got to see a photo of the lamb’s mum! She spun and knit the fibre raw, which encouraged a “definite connection to the grower, the sheep and the land”.
Suz's finished shawl from different angles

Suz’s finished shawl. Photo credit: Suz Arnott

Natasha has finished the body of her shawl. She started working the i-cord ties during our Knitalong meetup. She’s also been blogging her experiences. Natasha experimented with spinning three different fibres into three separate yarns. She then plyed these into one yarn. She’s been enjoying seeing how the colours have blended. Her fabric has a subtle, silvery lustre that’s lovely to look at. Natasha enjoyed knitting the Radiata. She’s swatched a handspun faux-boucle in preparation for another one!


Natasha's new swatch

Natasha’s new swatch (with in progress shawl underneath)

I’m two wedges into my own shawl. Unlike Sue and Natasha I’m not used to knitting local fibre at all. A portrait of the alpaca my fibre comes from is printed on the yarn label. I’ve enjoyed showing it to interested parties when they check out my knitting. There has been a little bit of dried grass twisted in the yarn. I was warned this might happen, but it doesn’t happen often enough to be a problem. It comes out easily if I’m careful to pull in line with the twist of the yarn. The yarn is loosely spun and largely uniform. I haven’t had problems with splitting. Very occassional slubby sections aren’t visible in the knitted fabric. Being suri alpaca, the yarn is slippery which has made stitches like Slip, Slip, Knit (SSK) a little more tricky. The outstanding aspect of my experience has been the light, soft feel to the fabric. Everyone comments on it, and my knitting has been much admired and handled!

My progress

My progress

Our second conversation

We were very lucky to have Emily Cunetto join us at our second Knitalong meeting. Emily lives in the USA so we appreciated her making time to video conference late in her evening. She told us about how she approached the design of the Radiata shawl. She had a lot of considerations because she didn’t know what yarns people would use. She also wanted to design for beginners and experienced knitters alike. An important aspect of the design for her was fabric drape, so she started there. She decided against lace and opted instead for a more structural design.

We talked about the challenges of making money from the arts and textiles. Emily has been producing knitwear and has a couple of knitting machines. She’s now moving into education and enjoys teaching people to knit. She showed us the jumper pattern she’s working on at the moment. Expect more patterns on her website in the future!

Emily Cunetto waving

Emily Cunetto called in late on her Friday night to talk to us. What a champion.

Our conversation went wide and we talked about the systemic challenges of connection to clothing. Emily feels we currently buy clothes on ‘credit’, in the sense that we don’t currently pay the full price of producing the items we wear. We don’t see the pollution and impact on people that clothing production makes. It’s possible the US experiences a more extreme version of this than Australia which was slower to the fast fashion trend, but both countries share similar challenges now. We’ve all noticed there is now an expectation we can buy what we want for less.

We felt that a connection and engagement to clothing production was needed. Our Knitalong is an opportunity for engaged makers, but the wider population needs something else. We recognised that not everyone will participate in clothing production. Specialists in different areas benefits society. We explored the local food movement to see if there were insights we could apply to clothing as well.

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2 Responses to Fibreshed knitalong: the middle

  1. norma says:

    Interesting shawl pattern, I will look that up.
    I agree that our clothes are “on credit”. I thought about it a lot when I was making my oneyearoneoutfit clothes. It was so time consuming to make everything by hand (no British machine spun natural threads so I had to pull threads from the fabric). I loved doing it but I can’t imagine many people would feel that way.

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